The big contest of the week saw the defending USL First Division champion Seattle Sounders visiting the Atlanta Silverbacks in a rematch of last year's final in which the Sounders were 4-0 winners at home. Seattle blanked the Silverbacks again for a 2-0 win Friday night.
Seattle would grab the early advantage when the work of Josh Gardner created a corner kick for Leighton O'Brien. O'Brien stepped up to the left corner and scored directly, unassisted, bending the ball into the far post above the head of Ansu Toure eight minutes in.
The goal threw Atlanta forward but, yet again, the great goalkeeping of Chris Eylander kept the Sounders ahead. In the 15th minute Mac Kandji got on the end of a cross and sent in a low shot that Eylander did very well to block with his leg.
The Sounders weren't without opportunities for a second goal. In the 35th Atlanta keeper Ryan McIntosh stepped out of the box with the ball and received a handball call, but Seattle couldn't capitalize as Josh Gardner's free kick went just over the crossbar.
Seattle found their second goal in the 65th minute with Sebastien LeToux scoring his first goal of the season off a long ball from Danny Jackson. LeToux's run was perfectly timed and keeper Ryan McIntosh failed to close in on the ball quick enough. LeToux got a small touch on the pass and the ball found the back of the net.
USL First Division
Friday, May 2
Rochester Rhinos 0 at Charleston Battery 2
The final team to open their campaign, the Rhinos fell on the road on a pair of goals from Randi Patterson and Aaron King. Patterson gave the hosts the lead three minutes before the break and King secured the win in the 81st. Dusty Hudock recorded the shutout for Charleston.
Montreal Impact 1 at Puerto Rico Islanders 0
It was not an easy task, but the Impact came away from the island with three points. Goalkeeper Matt Jordan, who was returning from a back injury, was tested with a penalty kick in the 30th minute, but made the save on Victor Herrera's attempt. Losing striker Roberto Brown to a red card in the 40th minute, the Impact were then at the disadvantage of the Islanders for the entire second half. In the 82nd minute Montreal's Joey Gjertsen netted the winner for the visitors.
Sunday, May 4
Rochester Rhinos 0 at Minnesota Thunder 1
High winds helped Thunder goalkeeper Nicolas Platter set up the lone goal of the match in the 26th minute when Alen Marcina was able to put the hosts ahead. Almost immediately, however, the Rhinos had a chance to equalize at the other end, but Hamed Diallo's penalty kick was stopped by Platter, giving him an assist, a penalty save and a shutout on the night.
Carolina RailHawks 1 at Miami FC Blues 0
In a back-and-forth affair that saw several close chances for Miami, the RailHawks were the team earning the points in South Florida. On a ball that was too high for a Blues defender to head clear, 2007 scoring champion Dan Antoniuk corralled the ball and put it past Josh Saunders in the 87th minute for the road win.
USL Second Division
The Charlotte Eagles became the first team to clinch a US Open Cup berth, joining automatic qualifiers Harrisburg and Richmond. The Eagles' 3-2 win in Wilmington Saturday in which Dustin Swinehart notched a goal and assist, coupled with Pittsburgh's 1-1 draw against defending champion Harrisburg the same night, put Charlotte into the tournament. Also on Saturday, Real Maryland fell on the road to Western Mass 1-0.
On Friday, Harrisburg played Cleveland to a scoreless draw, the second tie in as many weeks between the two. Hours after their parent side locked up a spot in the Championship's EPL promotion playoffs Sunday, Crystal Palace Baltimore blanked Richmond 2-0 on a goal and assist from Gary Brooks.
Premier Development League
Despite the addition of Hall of Famer Eric Wynalda to the roster last week, the Bakersfield Brigade played to a pair of draws on the road, going scoreless against Ventura County and finishing 2-2 in Lancaster. In the Bay Area clash, San Francisco and San Jose went scoreless. Also in the Southwest, Los Angeles won 1-0 at Orange County and San Fernando Valley blanked Southern California 3-0. In the Mid South, El Paso went scoreless with expansion Austin and Houston won in its debut 3-0 against New Orleans. In the Southeast, Panama City fell in its debut 2-1 and 3-0 at Central Florida. Northwest action kicked off with Yakima winning 3-0 in Spokane.
The 14th season of the W-League kicks off next Saturday, May 10 with a slate of seven games on Opening Night. Action on the night includes 2007 champion Washington Freedom and runners-up Atlanta Silverbacks as well as expansion Connecticut, West Virginia, Carolina, Pali and Ventura County. Tampa Bay debuts in Sunday's lone game.