Friday, August 31

LD Update: USL Pro semis tonight; PR pounded; player availability news

The USL Pro championship finalists will be determined tonight with both semifinals kicking off around 7:30 pm ET. The reigning two-time regular season champion and last year's league winners Orlando City play host to the Wilmington Hammerheads, the only team to hand them a loss in their amazing 17-1-6 campaign, while longtime foes Rochester Rhinos and Charleston Battery square off in New York.

Both matches will be streamed on

Wilmington @ Orlando City 7:30 ET

You could not create three matches as differently as the three previous contests went between the two sides in league play this season.

The first meeting in Orlando April 15 was dominated by John Rooney, who netted his only two goals of the year as well as one of his two assists as they cruised to a 4-1 win. He opened the scoring in the ninth and doubled the lead before the break with his season in the 41st via Kevin Molino, who added another assist later. Rooney connected with Rob Valentino in the 54th to make it three-nil before Bryce Taylor struck for Wilmington two minutes later. Dennis Chin capped the night in the 65th.

The return meeting in Wilmington June 2 was the complete opposite as the Hammerheads rolled to what proved to be a rare win, handing Orlando City a 3-1 defeat. Chin opened the scoring for Orlando City in the 13th minute, but it was all Wilmington and Corey Hertzog after that. He equalized with some help from Mark Briggs in the 26th. The two reversed roles to find the go-ahead goal in the 56 minute. Hertzog ensured the victory with a second strike in the 90th.

The final meeting just over a month ago, July 25, in Orlando saw Orlando City play to one of it's six draws this season. Taylor scored his second of the year against Orlando City to break the stalemate in the 68th minute, but Chin found Matt Luzanaris with six minutes left to avoid the second loss.

Charleston @ Rochester 7:35 ET

As with the other match-up, the two matches between the familiar foes were completely different at either end of the season. The one difference is that both matches were won by the visiting side with shutout performances.

In the early meeting May 12, the Rhinos were still enjoying the fantastic defensive start behind goalkeeper Kristian Nicht. Danny Earls scored the deciding tally in the 1-0 result in the 61st minute on an assist from JC Banks, who may miss the semifinal match due to injury.

In the return match three weeks ago it was Charleston dominating in Rochester August 11. Tony Donatelli took it to his previous team (2011) finding the back of the net twice in the 4-0 win, scoring in the 18th and 30th minutes. Amadou Sanyang pushed the lead to three in the final minute of the first half. Donatelli capped the evening with an assist, setting up Dane Kelly with four minutes left.

NASL News: The Puerto Rico Islanders dropped their second CONCACAF Champions League match, falling on the road Wednesday to a mostly reserve LA Galaxy squad, 4-0... FC Edmonton midfielder Matt Lam has been suspended by the club for 'disciplinary reasons' for Sunday's match.

USL News: Rochester Rhinos star midfielder JC Banks, the USL Pro assist leader, is likely out for the playoffs heading into the team's semifinal match due to a knee injury... Richmond Kickers midfielder and former Japanese international Nozomi Hiroyama has announced his retirement from professional soccer. 

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