First-ever rematch for PDL Championship
The Michigan Bucks and Laredo Heat will square off for the PDL title for the second consecutive year in the first-ever championship rematch in PDL history. The defending champion Bucks needed a 5-4 penalty tiebreaker decision after a 1-1 draw to advance against the Brooklyn Knights. Laredo edged the visiting Fresno Fuego 1-0 to host the final and get a second shot at beating Michigan.
The 14-seed Brooklyn Knights nearly knocked off a third division champion in the postseason in Michigan Saturday with Tarik Smith giving the visitors the early lead 15 minutes in on an assist from former Major League Soccer midfielder Jeff Matteo.
The defending champions responded in the 33rd minute through Khelli Dube and the game remained at a stalemate over the next 90 minutes through regulation and overtime, forcing a penalty kick tiebreaker.
The Knights were looking to repeat their spot kick glory from a week ago when they knocked off the unbeaten regular season champion Hampton Roads Piranhas 5-4 in seven rounds of penalties, but fell short.
Michigan goalkeeper Steve Clark, who finished second in the league with a .707 goals against average, stopped Dany Dragoi's attempt in the second round to give the Bucks a 5-4 decision in the tiebreaker and give the Bucks a shot at becoming the chance at becoming the sixth team in league history to repeat as champions.
Later that night, the Laredo Heat saw an infusion of youth send their club back to the final for another shot at defeating the Bucks. Seventeen year old Felix Garcia came off the bench in the 54th minute and provided the game-winner seven minutes from time.
The Heat will play host to the championship for the second straight year on Saturday, August 11 at the UISD Student Activity Center after drawing over 7,000 for last year's final.
USL First Division
The Seattle Sounders used a 2-0 Wednesday night win over league leader Portland and a 1-0 win Saturday against Puerto Rico while the Timbers played to a 1-1 draw in Minnesota to pull level with their rivals atop the USL First Division. Josh Gardner, Sebastian Le Toux and Roger Levesque posted the three Seattle goals with Chris Eylander registering the two shutouts. Islanders picked up a pair of points on the trip to the northwest also playing Vancouver to a 1-1 draw two nights earlier.
Charleston snapped Miami's five-game unbeaten run Tuesday with a 3-0 win with Aaron King and Andre Toussaint tallying a goal and assist each, but fell 2-1 in Atlanta Saturday as Dan Antoniuk and David Hayes gave the home side a 2-0 lead.
The RailHawks' winless run hit eight games with a 4-1 loss in Montreal Wednesday as four different Impact players found the back of the net. The streak, however, came to an end Friday with a 2-0 win on Guaranteed Victory night against California as Connally Edozien provided a goal and assist. Montreal capped the week with a 1-0 win over rival Rochester on a strike from Charles Gbeke Sunday.
USL Second Division
The race for postseason positioning heated up as some of the top clubs squared off on the second to last weekend of the season in USL-2. Tied for second, the Cleveland City Stars and Harrisburg City Islanders met on Friday with a shot at first on the line. Cleveland's eighth minute penalty from Chris Lemons stood for the 1-0 win to boost Cleveland to the spot only to see the defending champion Richmond Kickers retake the top spot the following night with a 2-0 win over Western Mass.
Harrisburg pulled back even with Cleveland as well on Saturday with a 2-0 victory in Cincinnati while Bermuda registered a 1-0 win in New Hampshire. Crystal Palace Baltimore wrapped the weekend up with a 3-0 win over Wilmington to secure a fifth place finish. Charlotte, the fourth playoff-bound side, was idle.
USL Super-20 League Championships
Perhaps the effort needed to top DC United and the New York Red Bulls in group and semifinal games, respectively, on Saturday took too much out of the Chicago Fire Premier Sunday as they fell 3-1 to PDA in the Men's North American Championship match. For his two goal performance in the final, Mike Konicoff was named the Super-20 League 2007 MVP.
On the women's side of the bracket, the Washington Freedom were unable to repeat as champions and give the club a double on the day with the senior side winning the W-League Championship in Rochester. Instead, 2006 finalist Parsippany was the club that returned to the final and finishing unbeaten in four games to win the championship. They downed the Freedom 2-1 in group play and edged Quickstrike FC 1-0 in the final after splitting their two regular season meetings to win the USL Super-20 North American Championship they've spent a year waiting for. Ingrid Wells was named MVP.