Heading into the final weekend of Lamar Hunt US Open Cup qualifying for USL teams, the Pittsburgh Riverhounds and Wilmington Hammerheads were vying for the final berth from the USL Second Division and all eight spots for Premier Development League sides were still up for grabs.
The Los Angeles Legends became the first PDL team to clinch a berth in the US Open Cup Friday night. Needing a two-goal victory to surpass San Jose in goal differential, the Legends left no doubt as they blanked San Fernando Valley 5-0 for their first trip to the tournament.
On Saturday, three more qualified for the Cup. Despite a 3-0 loss at Cleveland, the Riverhounds earned the final USL-2 spot when Real Maryland rallied to defeat Wilmington 2-1.
In the PDL Saturday, the expansion Austin Aztex qualified following their 1-0 win over the defending champion Laredo Heat the night before and Saturday's 3-0 loss in Houston by Mississippi. In contrast, the Yakima Reds qualified for the first time in 14 years, the longest drought in the PDL, with a 2-1 win over Ogden as BYU and Tacoma played to a 1-1 draw.
Three more qualified out the PDL Sunday. The Brooklyn Knights earned a berth with a 1-1 draw in New Hampshire, joining Fredericksburg as the two teams advancing from the PDL Eastern qualifying group. A 2-2 draw at Kansas City clinched a berth for the St Louis Lions out of the Central, leaving Michigan-Cleveland and Bradenton-Central Florida head-to-head showdowns on Memorial Day Monday to determine the final two berths.
With the previous six qualifiers out of the PDL headed to the tournament for their first time, Monday's qualifiers proved the exception with the Bradenton Academics blanking Central Florida 3-0 and the Michigan Bucks, headed to their eighth appearance, edging the Internationals 2-1 in Cleveland.
USL First Division
Monday, May 19
Vancouver Whitecaps 0 at Montreal Impact 0
The opening of the brand-new Stade Saputo in Montreal was dampened by heavy rain and a scoreless match in which the action went back-and-forth. Vancouver's Srdjan Djekanovic and Montreal's Matt Jordan recorded the shutouts.
Friday, May 23
Seattle Sounders 2 at Vancouver Whitecaps 0
The defending champion Sounders got an early jump on their rivals with a third minute goal from Josh Gardner set up by 2007 MVP Sebastien Le Toux. Four minutes later Le Toux scored himself and Chris Eylander posted five saves to post the clean sheet.
Saturday, May 24
Miami FC Blues 1 at Minnesota Thunder 3
The Thunder found their scoring touch, posting more than a single goal in a game for the first time on the season. Alen Marcina found Melvin Tarley seven minutes in. Ricardo Sanchez set up Jeremiah Bass in the 33rd with the duo reversing roles seven minutes later for a commanding 3-0 lead. Sean Cameron scored a minute before the break for Miami.
Atlanta Silverbacks 0 at Charleston Battery 2
The Battery maintained their league lead with Randi Patterson scoring his league-leading fifth goal of the campaign a half hour into the affair. Aaron King doubled the advantage in the 74th with back-up goalkeeper Keith Wiggans posting his third straight shutout in as many appearances.
Rochester Rhinos 1 at Carolina RailHawks 0
The Rhinos remain winless on the year, but salvaged a point despite a heavily depleted back line due to injury and national team call-ups. The makeshift defense held the RailHawks to a 14th minute goal from Martin Nunez, allowing Mauricio Salles to equalize late in the 89th minute for the draw.
Vancouver Whitecaps 1 at Portland Timbers 0
The Whitecaps ended a two-game scoreless run with a strike from Vicente Arze on the hour mark that held for the win. Jay Nolly posted the club's fifth shutout in seven games.
Monday, May 26, 2008
Miami FC Blues 2 at Portland Timbers 0
Miami rebounded from Saturday's loss to hand the Timbers their second straight loss at home. The final seven minutes of the first half proved devastating for the home side, losing coach Gavin Wilkinson to an ejection in the 38th, seeing the visitors go ahead on an Alex Afonso penalty in the 43rd and having star striker Takayuki Suzuki sent off in the 45th for back-to-back cautions a minute apart. Despite the disadvantages, Portland fought back in the second half, but it was not enough with Afonso scoring again in the 68th to secure the win.
USL Second Division
In addition to the Cleveland and Real Maryland wins, the Richmond Kickers handed the Charlotte Eagles their first defeat of the season 1-0 and Crystal Palace Baltimore erased two one-goal deficits to win 3-2 at Western Mass despite playing much of the second half a man down.
Premier Development League
Although they did not qualify for the U.S. Open Cup, the Chicago Fire Premier downed the West Michigan Edge 2-0 Monday to earn their 100th regular season win in the PDL, missing out on the US Open Cup by one point. The Ocean City barons were 3-1 winners against Richmond, but the club's 2-0-2 mark left them as one of six unbeaten teams not to qualify along with San Jose (3-0-1), San Francisco (2-0-2), Newark (2-0-2), New Hampshire (2-0-2) and Bakersfield (1-0-3).
On a collision course for a meeting next Friday, the Charlotte Lady Eagles and 2007 finalist Atlanta Silverbacks posted a pair of victories each over the holiday weekend to push themselves into a commanding lead in the Mid Atlantic Division. Charlotte won 1-0 at Hampton Roads Friday and ripped Richmond 6-0 Saturday to move to 4-0-0. Atlanta also notched a big win Saturday, blanking the expansion Illusion 5-0 in West Virginia and moved to 5-0-0 with another road win against Richmond Monday, 3-0.
The Toronto Lady Lynx moved to 3-0-0 with a pair of wins, downing London 4-0 Wednesday and winning 3-0 at Vermont Saturday. The FC Indiana Lionesses also hit 3-0-0 with two wins at home on the week. A pair of five-goal games at home netted a 5-0 win over Michigan Wednesday and a 5-1 win over Fort Wayne Sunday. Laura Del Rio posted five goals and two assists over the two victories for FC Indiana.