A run of nine games without a win (0-5-4) had left the Carolina RailHawks at the bottom of the table, struggling to find a way out having also been shutout in five of their last six. With one of the league's top defensive sides coming to Cary Friday, it did not look good for the RailHawks against Miami in a battle of the two clubs at the bottom of the table.
Looking for a change of luck, the club opened play on the opposite side of the pitch at WakeMed Park and the decision may have done the trick psychologically as the attack was on in the early going and led to an unusual goal for a Carolina lead 19 minutes in.
Hamed Diallo found young sensation Martin Nunez, who was able to beat Miami goalkeeper Josh Saunders only to see his shot hit the post. But the ball finally bounced in Carolina's favor, ricocheting off Miami's Cristiano Dias and into the goal for the opening tally.
Miami responded quickly, however with a strike from Caue da Mata three minutes later. After another three-minute span, a free kick from Kupono Low led to Carolina re-establishing the lead in the 25th when Matt Watson redirected the restart to an open Diallo for the go-ahead goal. Recently acquired Ronald Cerritos pushed the lead with what proved to be the winner in the 29th on a nice curling strike to the upper corner from just inside the 18.
Miami would cut the deficit in half seven minutes from time when new addition from Atlanta Ansu Toure connected with top scorer Alex Afonso on a corner kick, but it would not be enough as Carolina would hold on for the win to move level with the Blues in the table.
USL First Division
Wednesday, August 13
Rochester Rhinos 0 at Montreal Impact 1
The last time the Impact left Stade Saputo two weeks prior, they had fallen to their rivals 2-0 in their third defeat in four games at home. A goal 10 minutes from Tony Donatelli proved to be just enough for Montreal to avenge the defeat as Matt Jordan made three stops to preserve the advantage.
Friday, August 15
Puerto Rico Islanders 3 at Seattle Sounders 0
The Islander retook sole possession of first in USL-1 with a commanding display in Seattle. Noah Delgado provided the initial advantage in the 38th minute. In the second half Edson Elcock scored his first goals of the season, hitting his first in the 59th and second in the 65th. Back-up goalkeeper Michael Behonick posted three saves in the shutout. The victory extended their amazing road run to seven unbeaten at 6-0-1.
Saturday, August 16
Charleston Battery 0 at Atlanta Silverbacks 0
After advancing in the U.S. Open Cup Wednesday at home, the Battery took to the road and played the high-flying Silverbacks to a scoreless stalemate as Dusty Hudock and Felipe Quintero led to the two sides with the clean sheets.
Minnesota Thunder 1 at Rochester Rhinos 3
After losing a point in the standings a day prior due to an ineligible player infraction, the Rhinos shrugged it off with an impressive display against the Thunder. Former Minnesota striker Johnny Menyongar opened the scoring four minutes before the break with Luke Kreamalmeyer continuing the damage in the second half. Kreamalmeyer set up Daniel Antunez in the 58th before finding the back of the net himself five minutes later. Melvin Tarley would spoil the shutout with two minutes remaining.
Montreal Impact 1 at Portland Timbers 2
In a week of teams breaking streaks, the Timbers snapped a stunning nine-game home unbeaten run (0-4-5) and a seven game unbeaten stretch (0-3-4) with the victory over Montreal. Bryan Jordan connected for the opening strike five minutes into the second half and built a 2-0 advantage in the 69th minute via Chris Brown. Donatelli scored his second of the week in the 86th, but it was not enough for the Impact.
Sunday, August 17
Puerto Rico Islanders 0 at Vancouver Whitecaps 0
The Islanders pushed their incredible road unbeaten run to eight games (6-0-2) with the scoreless draw in Vancouver. Bill Gaudette made five saves to preserve Puerto Rico's position at the top of the table while Jay Nolly posted three for his clean sheet.
USL Second Division Playoffs
The postseason play opened Wednesday with the First Round as the top two awaited the two winners for the Semifinals Saturday. The Harrisburg City Islanders captured the league title last year in Richmond on penalties, but saw the tiebreaker go against them in Baltimore as Crystal Palace took an eight-round 7-6 decision after a back-and-forth 2-2 draw. In the other playoff opener, it was the third seed Cleveland City Stars advancing 4-2 against Western Mass, who fought off a pair of one goal deficits before seeing the hosts pull away.
On Saturday, the regular season champion Charlotte Eagles found themselves down five minutes in against Crystal Palace on a goal from Shintara Harada. They would return the favor in the second half with not only the equalizer, but the winner in just the first six minutes. Jorge Herrera converted a penalty in the 48th and three minutes later league scoring champion Dustin Swinehart tallied the winner. Unfortunately for Charlotte, the end of the match proved critical for the Final as goalkeeper Terry Boss would be sent off for committing a foul just outside the box that denied a goal scoring opportunity, leaving the Eagles, headed to their fourth final in five years, without the top netminder.
Looking to return to a third consecutive final, the Kickers were in a tough contest with one of the league's best defenses. The visiting City Stars took the 2006 champions to overtime in a scoreless stalemate before finding the winner from Adam Ruud in the 99th minute. Cleveland will host Charlotte in the USL Second Division Championship Saturday, August 23 at 8:00 pm ET at Krenzler Stadium.