Vancouver, Charleston advance to semis
Brief reports of United Soccer Leagues First Division Playoffs this weekend. The Vancouver Whitecaps took a commanding 4-1 lead to Miami and advanced 6-1 on aggregate in their series while the Charleston Battery had to rally twice at home to take a 2-2 scoreline on the road to Puerto Rico, where a 1-0 victory was enough for them to advance to the semifinals. The two advanced from their first round series to face the regular season champion Montreal Impact and second-place Rochester Raging Rhinos. Friday, September 15 Puerto Rico Islanders 2 at Charleston Battery 2 All-League selection Gavin Glinton buried a rebound off the crossbar for a dramatic equalizer in the 89th minute for the Charleston Battery to tie their first leg match at home against the Puerto Rico Islanders 2-2. Glinton's strike was the second of two equalizers for the Battery as Puerto Rico continued its control in the all-time series, which stood at a dominant 5-1-4 record heading into the series. Leading scorer and All-League selection Alen Marcina put the Islanders on the board first when he blasted a shot past Dusty Hudock in the 22nd minute. The Islanders hung onto the lead until the 53rd minute. Omar Daley slipped a pass down the line to Tim Karalexis. Karalexis whipped a cross to the back post where Vercollone set the ball back to Armstrong. Armstrong ran onto the pass and stroked the ball neatly home. Seven minutes later Alejandro Gonzalez gave the visitors the lead again when he put away a free kick. Miami FC 1 at Vancouver Whitecaps 4 Both squads took an attacking style to full measure with the advantage falling the way of the home side as David Testo scored 12 minutes in and set up All-League selection Joey Gjertsen for a 2-0 lead in the 35th. A minute before the break, All-League defensive honoree Geordie Lyall celebrated his birthday with his second goal of the season for a commanding 3-0 lead. Not letting up in the second half, both teams continued to go at each other with Romario finally getting one back for Miami, scoring on a beautiful free kick in the 64th minute. The Brazilian World Cup MVP's goal was not enough, however, with the Whitecaps getting one more from Tony Donatelli in the 88th minute to restore the three-goal advantage as they hit the road. A three goal lead is not a certainty for advancing and no franchise should know better than the Whitecaps themselves. The club saw a 3-0 lead established at home in the 2000 playoffs dissapear at Minnesota as the Thunder took the second leg 3-0 to force a series overtime that was decided on a golden goal by underdogs in the aggregate score series. Sunday, September 17 Vancouver Whitecaps 2 at Miami FC 0 The deficit proved too much for the expansion side as the Whitecaps expanded the lead in the first minute of first half stoppage time courtesy of Eduardo Sebrango despite significant injuries to Jay Alberts and Dave Morris in the first half. Martin Nash, who set up the first tally, became the sixth player to score for the Whitecaps in the postseason with his strike finding the back of the net in the 64th to cement the series for the visitors. Charleston Battery 1 at Puerto Rico Islanders 0 Despite having just one win in their previous 11 games (1-5-5) against the Islanders, the Battery came away with the narrow 1-0 victory to take the series 3-2 on aggregate. Stephen Armstrong scored his second of the playoffs with a blast of a free kick in the 54th minute and despite several chances for the Islanders, the goal stood as the winner.