The Portland Timbers showed that last season's worst-to-first performance was no fluke with two victories in the second week of USL First Division action, downing the Minnesota Thunder 2-1 on Thursday and the defending champion and northwest rival Seattle Sounders 2-0 Saturday to move to 3-0-0 on the season.
Former Real Salt Lake striker Chris Brown picked up where he left off the week prior, scoring his second goal in as many games to give Portland the early lead over Minnesota nine minutes in Thursday. The Thunder would equalize, however, four minutes before the break on the foot of Aaron Paye. In the second half, veteran Andrew Gregor found Shaun Higgins for the winner in the 65th minute.
The big contest for Portland, however, came two nights later when their biggest rival came to town having taken the season series last year 2-0-1 largely behind the efforts of newcomer Sebastian Le Toux from France. Saturday would be another newcomer's showtime.
Former Japanese international star striker Takayuki Suzuki sent the near 10,000 faithful into a frenzy just six minutes into the contest with a fantastic strike on an assist from Brown. With the club's defense holding the Sounders off the board, Suzuki would push the lead to 2-0 when he found Miguel Guante in the 76th minute for the insurance goal.
Friday, April 25
Miami FC Blues 2 at Puerto Rico Islanders 0
Winless in their first two games at home (0-1-1), Miami was looking to break the trend in Puerto Rico and took the lead 25 minutes into the affair with a strike from Jamaican Sean Cameron. Cameron, however, would see red in the 76th minute for a second caution, leaving his club vulnerable for the final stretch of the game. Despite increased pressure from the Islanders, the Blues would hold on for their first victory, adding a second strike in the 80th minute from Juan Pablo Galavis on an assist from Alex Afonso, who had scored their two previous goals at home.
Montreal Impact 2 at Atlanta Silverbacks 3
Having won only twice before in 13 meetings, Atlanta showed some strength against a usual league power, exposing its vaunted back line numerous times in the match. Macoumba Kandji beat the defense 19 minutes in and put a shot past Andrew Weber's legs on a mishandled save for the initial lead. A fantastic one-time volley from Montreal's Patrick Leduc tied the score in the 32nd for level terms at the break. Last year's defender of the year David Hayes put the hosts back on top in the 52nd and Jason McLaughlin added what proved to be the winner in the 70th with Montreal's Charles Gbeke scoring two minutes later.
Saturday, April 26
Charleston Battery 0 at Carolina RailHawks 1
Despite adding the USL-1 and USL-2 leading scorers from last season to the roster, it was the RailHawks' star striker Connally Edozien who propelled Carolina to the victory. In a perfect give-and-go with Kupono Low, Edozien took the ball just inside the box and dribbled past four defenders before turning to let loose a blast to the upper corner in the 32nd minute.
Minnesota Thunder 1 at Vancouver Whitecaps 0
On the opening weekend, it was Vancouver ending a lengthy winless streak with the first home victory and goal against rival Montreal since 1996. This time, it was their opposition ending a lengthy streak. A penalty kick conversion from Ricardo Sanchez in the 68th minute ended a 15-game winless drought in Vancouver for Minnesota that dated back to 1997.
Sunday, April 27
Miami FC Blues 1 at Puerto Rico Islanders 3
A wet field from Friday was drenched come Sunday as the pair met for the second time an a rainy evening in Bayamon. Scoreless in their first two games, Puerto Rico broke out of the slump with a penalty in the 16th minute converted by Victor Herrera. Miami's Afonso would literally equalize things eight minutes later with a penalty of his own for his third goal of the year. The second half belonged to the Islanders with Osei Telesford reclaiming the lead in the 76th for Puerto Rico, who gained a man advantage four minutes later with a second caution being issued to Miami's Cristian Dias. Taiwo Atieno would make it 3-1 in the 89th minute.
USL Second Division
It took the Bermuda Hogges 10 games in their inaugural season to post their first win. In their second contest of the year, the Hogges downed Wilmington 2-0 Saturday to even their record for the season. The Real Maryland Monarchs avoided the same fate as Bermuda by posting their first win against Pittsburgh, who fell 3-0 to Crystal Palace Baltimore the night before, 2-0 Saturday in their second game of the season.
Last season's four playoff clubs squared off in the other two matches of the week. Charlotte shocked rival Richmond with a 3-0 win at home Friday evening with Dustin Swinehart tallying a goal and assist. On Saturday, the Cleveland City Stars and defending champion Harrisburg City Islanders were scoreless in the 41st minute when the game was halted due to weather. The game resumed Sunday and finished level 1-1.
Premier Development League
In the PDL Season Opener Saturday night, the visiting San Francisco Seals rallied from two down to upset the defending division and conference champion Fresno Fuego. The 2007 PDL MVP Pablo Campos gave the Fuego the 2-0 lead with a goal and an assist, but it was not enough. San Francisco clawed back with a Carlos Diaz penalty in the 64th, a Kellan Wilson equalizer in the 80th and the winner from Stephen Cordova in the 84th.