USL-1 heads into final week
With four teams clinching playoff berths over the last seven days to join Vancouver and Puerto Rico in the USL First Division postseason, only one space remains for the three sides left in contention going into the final week of the regular season.
The Minnesota Thunder currently lead the trio with a three point advantage over Atlanta and a five point edge over Carolina, but do not hold any of the tiebreakers against the two clubs, leaving the Silverbacks in control of their own destiny with two games remaining.
The action begins Friday when the Silverbacks travel to Puerto Rico, who are in search of a single point to secure the regular season championship and a much-needed bye to the Semifinals due to their CONCACAF Champions League schedule that runs through the course of the USL-1 postseason. Carolina, meanwhile will be in Charleston to face the playoff-bound Battery, who have the most wins at home in the league, but have struggled of late in league play due to their run to the U.S. Open Cup final.
On Saturday, the RailHawks return home to face the Portland Timbers, who are out of contention while the Thunder play host to the playoff-bound Montreal Impact, who will be in the midst of the their CONCACAF Champions League schedule.
If necessary, the final game of meaning will be Sunday when the Silverbacks travel to face currently last-place Miami.
USL First Division
Monday, Sept. 8
Portland Timbers 0 at Montreal Impact 2
The Impact moved closer to clinching a playoff berth and pushed Portland to the brink of elimination with the result, allowing the Rochester Rhinos to clinch a postseason berth. Leonardo Di Lorenzo opened the scoring 13 minutes in and Peter Byers doubled the advantage just before the break with the defense holding firm in the second half to preserve the Matt Jordan shutout.
Wednesday, Sept. 10
Montreal Impact 2 at Seattle Sounders 1
Needing just a point to clinch a berth, the Sounders were unable to hold on for a draw, allowing Montreal's Antonio Ribeiro to hit the game-winner in the 70th minute to send the Impact into the postseason. Tony Donatelli had opened the scoring for Montreal in the 59th with Seattle's Yousouff Kante tallying the equalizer three minutes later.
Thursday, Sept. 11
Charleston Battery 2 at Portland Timbers 1
The Battery took advantage of a Portland red card to rally for only their second road win of the season in league play, clinching a playoff berth for Charleston. Shaun Higgins gave the Timbers the initial lead 14 minutes in, but the ejection of defender Cameron Dunn left the hosts short-handed. In the 73rd minute Lazo Alavanja put the match on level terms and Aaron King found the winner in the 89th, eliminating Portland from playoff contention.
Friday, Sept. 12
Puerto Rico Islanders 2 at Rochester Rhinos 0
The league leaders showed their strength with a dominant performance for their league-leading seventh road victory. Kendall Jagdeosingh opened the scoring with a breakaway goal on a great feed from Jonathan Steele in the 10th minute. Defender Cristian Arrieta doubled the advantage off a free kick header in the 53rd.
Saturday, Sept. 13
Charleston Battery 0 at Minnesota Thunder 4
The Thunder kept their playoff hopes alive against a resting Battery lineup. Nathan Knox gave the hosts the lead a minute before the break with Melvin Tarley putting the game out of reach with goals in the 49th and 83rd minutes. Freddy Moojen capped the night in the 89th.
Montreal Impact 0 at Vancouver Whitecaps 1
The Whitecaps kept their bid for the regular season championship alive with former Impact striker Charles Gbeke burning his old club in stoppage time of the first half. Atlanta Silverbacks 1 at Seattle Sounders 1
Sebastien Le Toux put the defending champions into the playoffs with the opening strike in the 38th minute as Atlanta were only able to muster an equalizer via Macoumba Kandji in the 56th minute.
Sunday, Sept. 14
Rochester Rhinos 1 at Carolina RailHawks 1
The two sides played to a third stalemate on the season, leaving Carolina in a difficult position in the playoff chase. Former Rhino Hamed Diallo gave Carolina the initial lead just seven minutes into the match. The RailHawks defense, however, were only able to hold the advantage for 75 minutes before defender Ross Smith would find the equalizer in the 82nd minute.
Current playoff field: Puerto Rico Islanders, Vancouver Whitecaps, Montreal Impact, Rochester Rhinos, Charleston Battery, Seattle Sounders