Brief reports of United Soccer Leagues play this weekend.
The Michigan Bucks scored twice in the first nine minutes of an action-packed Premier Development League Championship match Saturday night in Laredo, edging the host Heat 2-1 in front of nearly 7,000 fans. One of the most storied and successful clubs in league history, the Bucks finally won their first league title in their 11th season and 10th playoff appearance.
Ironically, the championship run for the Bucks came from the 13th-seeded position, the lowest ever in league history. Along the way they knocked off third-seeded Boulder (4-0), fourth-seeded Chicago (4-1) and ninth-seeded Orange County (2-0) before topping the fifth-seeded Heat.
All-League forward Kenny Uzoigwe put the Bucks on the board four minutes in with a powerful blast. A goalkick from Championship MVP Steven Clark found Uzoigwe in the offensive third. He pushed the ball forward to Mychal Turpin, who played the ball back to Uzoigwe. Uzoigwe took the ball forward a few yards before feeding it to league assist leader Nate Jafta inside the box. Jafta's attempt to return the ball to Uzoigwe deflected off a defender, but sat perfectly into his stride for a one-time rocket into the back of the net.
Five minutes later the Bucks doubled the lead as the result of a penalty kick. Turpin was taken down as he was driving into the box to earn the penalty only to see his shot to the right stopped by All-Conference selection Ryan Shaughnessy. The rebound on the hard shot, however, fell out to the right side of the penalty area where Ty Shipalane was charging in hard on the play and ripped a low shot under the outstretched hand of Shaughnessy, who had done well to get up after the initial save.
With the Heat looking for a comeback, a 16th minute corner into the six was headed low past Clark only to be cleared off the line by Shipalane, who was guarding the far post on the play.
Two minutes later though, the Heat did cut into the lead on a corner from the opposite side, finally taking advantage of a series of corner kicks over the previous few minutes. Juan Ibarra sent his corner toward the near post, where it was flicked on to the far post. Defender Jose Macias was there to put the ball away, but it was not enough as the Bucks limited their chances the rest of the way.
USL First Division
Wednesday, August 9
Puerto Rico Islanders 2 at Charleston Battery 2
The Islanders put away two equalizers to take a point in Charleston. Jamaican international Omar Daley put the home side up six minutes in with Alen Marcina scoring his ninth of the season to get the game back to level terms in the 23rd. Gavin Glinton then added his 11th of the year at the end of the first half for a 2-1 lead at the break. John Lopuski tallied the lone goal of the second half for the Islanders.
Rochester Raging Rhinos 0 at Montreal Impact 2
A pair of goals sandwiched around halftime were the difference in the meeting of the two rivals with Leonardo Di Lorenzo setting up Lars Lyssand for his first goal of the year in the 43rd. Di Lorenzo then notched his first of the campaign four minutes into the second half as Greg Sutton posted two saves for a shutout in his return to action from injury.
Thursday, August 10
Toronto Lynx 0 at Minnesota Thunder 3
The Thunder guaranteed victory and fulfilled their promise, jumping over the Lynx from the bottom spot in the league table. Leo Gibson got things started with the opening goal in the 57th minute and the Thunder put the game away in the final moments with a strike from Ansu Toure in the 90th and a penalty conversion by Dustin Branan in stoppage. Joe Warren needed just one save for the clean sheet.
Virginia Beach Mariners 0 at Portland Timbers 1
Luke Kreamalmeyer scored his eighth goal of the season four minutes into the second half to end the Timbers' 11-game winless run. Backup goalkeeper Bayard Elfvin made two stops in the shutout.
Friday, August 11
Montreal Impact 0 at Rochester Raging Rhinos 1
The Rhinos exacted swift revenge for Wednesday's loss to their rivals. Matthew Delicate provided the lone strike of the night with his tally in the 54th minute of play and Scott Vallow posted two saves for the shutout.
Virginia Beach Mariners 1 at Seattle Sounders 5
Seattle rookie Cam Weaver is making himself a candidate for Most Valuable Player. The sensational striker registered a hat-trick, extending his league-leading total to 18, and an assist on the night as he and Cuban international Maykel Galindo partnered for four goals. Galindo found Weaver two minutes in with the rookie forward returning the favor in the 14th. Galindo hit Weaver again in the 24th with Greg Simmonds finding the back of the net for the ninth time this year for Virginia Beach three minutes later. Galindo connected with Weaver for a third time in the 34th for a 4-1 lead at the break and Roger Levesque closed out the scoring in the 85th.
Saturday, August 12
Puerto Rico Islanders 1 at Atlanta Silverbacks 1
The Islanders kept themselves a spot above Atlanta in the table with the road draw, coming from behind with an 82nd minute equalizer from Arturo Norambuena. Rodrigo Rios had given Atlanta the lead at the half-hour mark.
Sunday, August 13
Charleston Battery 0 at Miami FC 2
Diego Walsh scored his first of the year for Miami four minutes before halftime to give the home side the lead, and Romario added his 13th of the year. Eric Kronberg recorded his first shutout with five saves.
Rochester Raging Rhinos 0 at Minnesota Thunder 1
The Thunder are charging hard out of the cellar, registering their third straight win, all shutouts. Terry Alvino provided the lone goal of the game a minute into the second half as Joe Warren made four stops for the clean sheet.
Virginia Beach Mariners 0 at Vancouver Whitecaps 3
The Rhinos loss allowed the Whitecaps to move back to second as Joey Gjertsen played a role in all three goals. Gjertsen set up Geordie Lyall in the 10th minute and Jay Alberts in the 65th before putting the game well out of reach himself in the 72nd. Tony Caig made three saves in the shutout.
USL Second Division
Three New Hampshire losses on the week left the door wide open for Cincinnati and Pittsburgh. The Riverhounds took advantage with a 2-0 win at Cincinnati Saturday and with the Phantoms third loss came a berth for the Kings despite the defeat. With seeding the lone thing to decide come Sunday as Cincinnati could finish from second to fourth, the Kings fell 1-0 at Western Mass to leave Charlotte second behind Richmond and leaving the Kings fourth based on a 0-2-2 head-to-head record against the Hounds.
The Phantoms had a rough week, falling 6-2 at Western Mass Tuesday and 4-2 at Harrisburg Friday before being dominated 8-0 at Richmond Saturday. Richmond also played Wilmington to a 2-2 draw Wednesday. Last-place Long Island finished strong, playing to a 0-0 draw at Charlotte with defender Rob Fucci in goal and winning 3-2 at Wilmington to close out the year.