Sunday, August 26

LD Update: Carolina clubs win dramatic USL Pro playoff openers; NASL Game Night

It was a dramatic night of rallies in the opening round of the USL Pro playoffs as the Carolina clubs Charleston Battery and Wilmington Hammerheads advanced to the semifinals. Charleston came from behind at home to knock out Harrisburg while Richmond and Wilmington played a back-and-forth contest that saw the visiting Hammerheads prevail on a late strike.

In the NASL, two matches were of note. The two sides tied for second squared off, but the Tampa Bay Rowdies and visiting Puerto Rico Islanders played to a scoreless stalemate. Meanwhile, the Fort Lauderdale Strikers moved within two points of the pair by downing the league-leading San Antonio Scorpions.


Richmond Kickers 2:3 Wilmington Hammerheads - Matthew Delicate's header off the crossbar three minutes in may have loomed large at the end, but it looked as though things were falling the way of the Kickers when Wilmington loss their keeper Alex Horwath to injury four minutes later and a Sascha Goerres free kick in the 11th provided the opening tally. The free kick curled around the wall and was stopped by new keeper Troy Hernandez, falling to Jason Yeisley for the empty net finish.

Midway through the second half, Wilmington rallied to the lead with Steven Perry finding Troy Cole inside the box, where he placed a shot from the penalty spot in the 69th minute beneath the diving Ronnie Pascale, who would be playing his final game for the Kickers. Three minutes later Perry would see a corner kick come through a sea of defenders in the box to find him at the back post for the go-ahead strike.

Veteran Mike Burke, who came out of retirement late in the season, came through for the equalizer in the 79th, delivering the ball to Edson Elcock, who nodded the ball into the upper corner to put things on even terms. And just as it appeared the game was about to head to overtime, a cleared ball was kept in at the touchline seconds before the final whistle by Tom Parratt, who floated a desperate cross into the box that made its way over Pascale and into the far side netting for the win. - MORE

Charleston Battery 2:1 Harrisburg City Islanders - The hosts found themselves behind early on when Tom Mellor drove down the left side and delivered a well-paced cross to Brian Ombiji, who had an open net at the back post for the easy finish. Harrisburg, however, would see things reverse completely before the break.

The Battery found a little luck in the 40th minute. Tony Donatelli fired a shot off the left post that caromed back into the area and was handled by a City Islanders defender. Nicki Paterson would knot the score with the spot kick into the left corner. Jose Cuevas made an excellent play at midfield, turning and pausing before sending Donatelli through on a breakaway in the final minute of the half for the game-winning strike. - MORE


Tampa Bay Rowdies 0:0 Puerto Rico Islanders - A spot in the postseason was available for the winner, but the result left both needing to wait another week. It was the eighth shutout of the season for Tampa Bay's Jeff Attinella with Richard Martin getting the clean sheet on the other end. - MORE

Fort Lauderdale Strikers 2:1 San Antonio Scorpions - Scoreless into the second half, it appeared the visitors were going to take the lead in the 54th minute only to see Ryan Cochrane's effort denied by the post. Five minutes later a handball in the box allowed Abe Thompson to give the Strikers the lead. Thompson would double the lead in the 69th with a shot that Daryl Sattler was only able to get a piece of. The woodwork came into play again for San Antonio, denying Hans Denissen in the 76th minute. They finally found some fortune, though, in the 83rd when a Javier Saavedra free kick was knocked in for an own goal, but the equalizer never came. - MORE

Minnesota Stars 1:1 FC Edmonton - Cristiano Dias gave the defending champions the initial lead when the center back got a second chance in the 17th minute after his initial shot off a long throw-in from Brian Kallman was blocked. Amani Walker picked up the rebound and dropped it back to Dias for his first goal in two years. A clearance in the 74th minute fell nicely for Bryan Arguez, who took one touch before letting loose a searing shot from 25 yards into the upper corner for the draw. - MORE

Atlanta Silverbacks 0:1 Carolina RailHawks - The southern rivals nearly played to a stalemate were it not for Brian Ackley taking advantage of an Atlanta turnover in the 66th minute and put it past Daniel Illyes. - MORE

NASL News: The Fort Lauderdale Strikers added Michael Tetteh on loan from the Seattle Sounders Friday.

USL Pro News: The season is not quite over for the LA Blues, who announced an international friendly with Guatemalan champion Xelaju, which is currently playing in the CONCACAF Champions league group phase in which it recently upset Guadalajara, 1-0.


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