Montreal, Rochester clinch postseason
Brief reports of United Soccer Leagues play this past week. USL First Division Wednesday, August 17 Puerto Rico Islanders 1 at Montreal Impact 1 After falling 2-1 in Quebec City to the Impact Sunday, the Islanders regrouped for a 1-1 draw in Montreal. Darko Kolic put the defending champions on the board first 15 minutes in on an assist from Masahiro Fukasawa. Chilean international Sebastian Rozental found Mauricio Salles for the equalizer 13 minutes later as Islanders goalkeeper Dan Kennedy recorded 15 saves with his club being outshot 23-12 on the night. Friday, August 19 Puerto Rico Islanders 2 at Rochester Raging Rhinos 2 The Islanders continued their four-game swing in the northeast with a 2-2 draw in Rochester to win the season series 2-1-1 against the Rhinos. Sebastian Rozental scored the opening marker 20 minutes in, but a revamped lineup in the second half for Rochester gave the Rhinos control and the lead as subs John Ball leveled the game in the 62nd and Greg Howes tallied the go-ahead goal 10 minutes later. On the ropes most of the second stanza, the Islanders managed to squeak a point with a Caleb Norkus tally in the 89th minute. Saturday, August 20 Richmond Kickers 1 at Charleston Battery 1 Ben Hollingsworth gave the Battery the lead 25 minutes in on an unassisted strike. It appeared Charleston was going to pick up a much-needed three points in their postseason chase only to see two disappear in the final minutes with McColm Cephas scoring the equalizer for Richmond in the 89th. Montreal Impact 2 at Rochester Raging Rhinos 2 In a very wet affair that saw a lengthy weather delay the top two sides finished in a stalemate. Rochester's Greg Howes scored two go-ahead goals in the 19th and 63rd minutes only to see the visitors tie the match back up. Defender Nevio Pizzolitto scored for Montreal in the 57th and Charles Gbeke added the late equalizer in the 86th before being ejected three minutes later. Montreal nearly had an early lead only to see Pat Leduc's penalty kick saved in the ninth minute by Scott Vallow. Seattle Sounders 1 at Portland Timbers 1 Seattle defender Scott Jenkins gave the visitors the initial lead 22 minutes in on an assist from Leighton O'Brien only to see the playoff-seeking Timbers tie late with a goal from second half sub Shaun Higgins. Minnesota Thunder 0 at Vancouver Whitecaps 3 Martin Nash scored the first tally in the 34th minute, but it was Jason Jordan who put the game out of reach with two strikes. The first came two minutes after Nash's initial strike and added his second in the 77th as backup goalkeeper Josh Wicks posted five saves for the shutout with Mike Franks out 4-6 weeks. Sunday, August 21 Puerto Rico Islanders 1 at Toronto Lynx 1 The Islanders picked up their third consecutive road draw to keep their postseason hopes alive. Toronto went ahead in the 51st minute on a goal from Huffman Eja-Tabe only to see the visitors level in the 89th minute on a strike from Corey Woolfolk. Virginia Beach Mariners 1 at Atlanta Silverbacks 2 The Silverbacks moved into the all-important sixth and final playoff spot in their postseason chase. Fabian Dawkins put the home side up 12 minutes in and David Hayes made it 2-0 in the 20th for Atlanta. The Mariners rallied with a goal from John Barry Nusum in the 37th, but were unable to find the equalizer in the second half. USL First Division Standings (Points, W-L-D) Montreal 46 (13-2-7) Rochester 45 (13-6-6) Vancouver 39 (10-4-9) Richmond 38 (10-7-8) Seattle 37 (9-4-10) Atlanta 30 (9-12-3) Portland 29 (7-7-8) Puerto Rico 28 (7-9-7) Charleston 26 (7-13-5) Minnesota 25 (5-9-10) Virginia Beach 21 (5-12-6) Toronto 16 (3-13-7) USL Second Division The playoffs got underway with the two-leg, aggregate score semifinals pitting the Harrisburg City Islanders against the second seed and 2004 finalist Charlotte Eagles and the Wilmington Hammerheads against the regular season champion Western Mass Pioneers. Wilmington took a 1-0 lead in their series Wednesday night on a goal from Chris Bagley in the 57th minute and a four-save shutout by Bart Creasman only to see the Pioneers rally in the second leg with a 3-1 victory to win the series 3-2 on aggregate. Everson Maciel tied the series up 18 minutes into the second match only to see Bagley give take the lead back for Wilmington in the 53rd minute. Maciel then struck another series equalizer in the 72nd and Neil Krause provided what proved the series winner three minutes later to send the Pioneers to the final for a second time, having won the title in 1999. Harrisburg also took a 1-0 lead at home with their opener Thursday. Heading toward a scoreless finish Derek Potteiger provided the lone tally on the night with a goal seven minutes from time. The second leg saw Charlotte level the series in regulation with a 2-1 win to force overtime where they won the series 4-2 on aggregate. 2004 MVP Jacob Coggins tied the series at 1-1 three minutes into the match only to see Chad Severs regain the lead in the 25th. Ben Johnson gave Charlotte the 2-1 second-leg win in the 64th to force series overtime where sub Andy Guastaferro and Coggins took control. Coggins found Guastaferro six minutes into extra time with the duo reversing roles again 12 minutes in to lock up the series. Charlotte heads to their fifth final having won the title in 2000 with appearances in 1996, 1997 and 2004.