Major League Soccer: Philadelphia’s hopes of making significant strides in the playoff chase with two games ended in disappointment. Stephen Lenhart spoiled the party Thursday with goals just before and after the break for a 2-1 victory. Then on Sunday, Alejandro Moreno’s ninth minute strike was undone by goalkeeper Brad Knighton’s send-off in the 21st. David Ferreira converted the subsequent penalty and after a handful of great saves by Chris Seitz, the Union finally succumbed to a pair of goals by Jeff Cunningham, 3-1.
Toronto FC and the Seattle Sounders followed up their Champions League success midweek with victories, showing no hangovers from travel. Toronto returned home to down Chivas USA, 2-1, Saturday on first-half goals from Nana Attakora and Chad Barrett. Giancarlo Maldonado cut into the deficit in the 66th, but it was not enough. The Sounders blanked visiting Houston, 2-0, Sunday on second-half strikes from Fredy Montero and Alvaro Fernandez.
Ben Olsen’s first game as interim coach did not see much change for DC United as they fell, 1-0, in New England on a 42nd minute Pat Phelan tally. Real Salt Lake picked up a 1-1 draw on the road with Robbie Findley’s 32nd minute equalizer cancelling out Kei Kamara’s goal in the 20th. Rounding out Saturday’s action was Colorado winning, 1-0, at home courtesy of an own goal by San Jose goalkeeper Jon Busch 25 minutes in.
The super-hyped five-DP game in Chicago Sunday night finished with a big squeal of air coming out of the balloon as the two sides went scoreless. On a night full of stars, it was Mac Kandji in the limelight as he missed numerous chances for New York.
USSF/USL: Among a series of tight, low-scoring affairs on the week in USSF Division-2 was one thriller Saturday in Austin. Jay Needham and Lance Watson scored twice in a two-minute span for a two-goal lead at the 18-minute mark, but the visiting Tampa Bay Rowdies answered right back. Ricardo Sanchez tallied from the spot in the 21st and four minutes later Long Tan netted his third of the year on an assist from Sanchez. Needham was not done though, scoring his second of the night and year in the 35th, set up by Jamie Watson for the second time, and Maxwell Griffin, who assisted on the second strike, scored just before the half as the Aztex won 4-2.
Earlier in the week, Miami’s Brian Shriver struck for the lone tally against Baltimore Wednesday while Kenold Versailles gave Rochester a 1-0 win versus Portland to keep within five points of Austin. On Friday, Vancouver and St Louis battled to a scoreless draw behind Jay Nolly and Alec Dufty shutouts, respectively.
In the other matches on Saturday Carolina topped Montreal 2-0 while Miami and Puerto Rico finished level, 1-1. Josh Gardner and Cory Elenio scored in each half for Carolina in the win as the RailHawks gained two points on Vancouver. David Foley tallied in the first for the Islanders with Abe Thompson scoring in the second for Miami.
In the USL Second Division, the playoff field was set as the race for the third and final playoff berth was claimed by the Pittsburgh Riverhounds. The Riverhounds opened the week Wednesday with a 1-1 draw at home against state-rival Harrisburg. Jeremy Deighton tallied six minutes before the break, but Harrisburg’s Kai Kasiguran kept Charlotte firmly in the picture for third with the equalizer three minutes from time.
On Saturday night, the Riverhounds finished the job with a surprising result, topping the league-leading Charleston Battery for the first time in four meetings. The two sides had not met since Pittsburgh’s rough start to the season in which they tied the Battery 0-0 on lost in back-to-back meetings 2-1 and 4-3. Tommy Gray gave the Hounds the lead 17 minutes in and Deighton notched his second of the week, fifth of the season, in the 31st. Tommy Heinemann brought the Charleston back within one in the 56th, but Pittsburgh held on for the win. Charleston’s loss opened the door for Richmond to make the final week of the season meaningful as the Kickers got a first minute goal from Matthew Delicate, his 11th, that stood up for the victory against Harrisburg, moving Richmond within three points of first.
Although Charlotte’s playoff hopes were being dashed in Pittsburgh, the other match of the night had meaning as Real Maryland was looking to leap out of last. Leo Gibson put the Eagles up in the 63rd, but the Monarchs’ Ben Hunter set up Jyler Noviello for the equalizer in the 78th before finding the net himself with three minutes left. Charlotte’s Greg Dalby spoiled the move past Harrisburg, striking in stoppage time, leaving the Monarchs with having to be content to move within one point of the City Islanders.
Mexican Primera: Following a 4-0 drubbing last week to Santos Laguna, Pumas UNAM came back with a roar, blanking high-flying Cruz Azul, 2-0, Sunday on goals from Marco Palacios and Javier Cortes in each half. Morelia were even bigger winners on the day, bringing two-win Queretaro back down to earth in week three courtesy of a 6-0 pasting. Miguel Sabah scored twice in the first 24 minutes and completed the hat-trick in the 54th to push the score to 5-0. Puebla picked a 3-1 road win against Estudiantes Tecos. Alvaro Gonzalez and Gabriel Pereyra gave the visitors a two-goal lead 19 minutes in before Mauro Cejas answered from the spot in the 21st. Edgar Lugo capped the game four minutes from time.
The action was a lot closer Saturday with five of the six matches decided by a goal or less. The four games with a winner finished in favor of the visitors, part of a larger trend that saw only Pumas and Morelia win at home on the week. Danilinho gave Jaguares the lead after seven minutes, but Toluca found an equalizer from Isaac Brizuela in the 69th for a 1-1 draw. Also finishing with the same scoreline were Tigres and America. Damian Alvarez gave Tigres the advantage in the 41st with the visitors leveling in the 76th courtesy of Daniel Montenegro. Dario Gandin scored the lone strike 25 minutes in for Necaxa’s win at Atlas and Marco Fabian provided a 1-0 road win also for Chivas Guadalajara with a 20th minute goal. Monterrey also were victorious away from home, 2-1, against Atlante. Johan Fano gave Atlanta the lead three minutes in, but Jose Basanta tied it up in the 14th, two minutes before Nicolas Torres of Atlante was sent off. Neri Cardozo netted the winner in the 52nd.
Santos Laguna continued its dominance, sitting as the only three-win side after a 3-0 victory against Pachuca, having outscored the opposition 11-1. Carlos Quintero opened the match in the 23rd, but league-leading scorer Cristian Benitez pushed his account to five goals with a brace in the second half.
Central America: The Liga Nacional opened play in Honduras over the weekend and wraps up the first round of action with a game Wednesday. Saturday’s lone contest was also the lone fixture to see the visitors come out on top as Real Espana downed Vida, 3-1. Rommel Quioto gave Vida the initial lead 11 minutes in with Eder Delgado matching it in the 26th. Christian Martinez and Luis Lobo tallied in the second half for the win. Platense also came from behind with Marcelo Souza scoring twice in three minutes before the break to negate Edmilson Da Silva’s seventh minute strike for Victoria in the 2-1 decision. Defending Clausura champion Olimpia rode second half goals from Roger Rojas and Alexander Lopez to down Hispano, 2-0. Regular season Clausura winners Motagua, however, may have been hung over from Tuesday’s 2-2 draw and Champions League series loss to Toronto FC. Ruben Licona of promoted side Necaxa scored twice and Jesus Navas made it 3-0 before halftime, which held as the final for the club, which is in the top flight for the first time since its founding in 1954. Marathon hosts Deportes Savio Wednesday.
In Costa Rica, the big night was Wednesday as Round 2 finished up with a scoreless stalemate between rivals Alajuelense and Saprissa. Alajuelense would go on to post a 2-0 win Saturday on the road against Puntarenas on goals from Christian Oviedo and Marco Urena in the second half. Saprissa plays their third in one of two Monday night matches. Also on Saturday, Barrio Mexico dropped San Carlos, 2-1, with all three goals coming in the first half. On Sunday, Herediano rallied from two down for a 3-2 victory. Erick Marin and Juan Monge strikes were not enough as Froylan Ledezma hit from the spot in the 38th followed by second half strikes from Cristhian Montero and Olman Vargas, who’s winner came in the 90th. Meanwhile, Cartagines drubbed Santos de Guapiles, 7-1. An own goal put the visitors up initially, but Leonardo Madrigal, Esteban Granados (penalty), and Diego Pais scored before the break. After a Johan Venegas send-off, Pais scored two more for a hat-trick.
In El Salvador, Isidro Metapan recovered from its Champions League elimination with a scoreless draw on the road versus Alianza Friday evening. Universidad de El Salvador doubled up on Once Municipal, 4-2, Saturday after falling in week one. Rafael Burgos scored twice as they scored three in the first 45 and a fourth two minutes into the second half before giving up two consolation strikes. Meanwhile, Aguila edged Vista Hermosa, 2-1, with Ramon Sanchez scoring nine minutes in and Gabriel Pinillo in the 47th. Javier Hernandez scored for Vista Hermosa in the 63rd to make it close. A stalemate between Atletico Balboa and Atletico Marte gave way with two in nine minutes as Marte’s Emerson Veliz struck in the 70th and Balboa’s Cristian Bautista answered to tie it back up. Top clubs Firpo and FAS met Sunday. Fresh off advancing to the Champions League group stage, FAS was topped, 2-0, by the visitors. Dennis Alas and Alex Erazo netted in the second half for Firpo.
Home sides were unbeaten in the third week of action in Guatemala. Xinabajul were the lone winners Saturday, posting a 3-0 win over Malacateco. David Espinoza scored in the first half with Fernando Patterson (penalty) and Jacinto Mendez scoring in the final seven minutes. Meanwhile, Comunicaciones settled for a 1-1 draw with Josimar scoring from the spot for Suchitepequez six minutes after Rolando Fonseca’s 50th minute strike. On Sunday, Municipal earned a 1-1 road draw against Juventud Retalteca. Juan Castillo gave Municipal the lead in the 68th with Jean Cedeno’s answer in the 83rd. Carlos Asprilla’s 52nd effort was enough for Mictlan against Penarol La Mesilla while Jonny Brown’s first-half strike was not enough for Marquense in a 3-1 defeat to Heredia. Julian Chacon leveled eight minutes into the second half and Henry Hernandez added two more in the next 13 minutes for the win. Edgar Cotto and Nelson Crossa scored in each half to give Xelaju a two-goal lead in a 2-1 win over Universidad de San Carlos.
Friday evening was the big night in Panama with three of the five fixtures. The bigger theme of the week though was shutouts as six netminders posted clean sheets. On Friday, Arabe Unido posted the lone road win, 1-0, against Chorrillo. Atletico Veraguense were 1-0 winners against Atletico Chiriqui and Chepo downed San Francisco, 2-0. On Saturday, Tauro tied visiting Sporting San Miguelito, 0-0, with Plaza Amador edging Alianza, 1-0, Sunday.