USL Wrap: Rhinos ruling the road
The road has been a difficult place so far this season with only six victories for the visiting sides thus far through 26 games. But the Rochester Rhinos, who are opening the campaign with their first eight games away from home, have defied the trend, posting their third straight win of the season Saturday.
And the Rhinos did it in hostile territory, downing heated rival Montreal 2-1 Saturday after giving up an early goal. More amazingly, it was the second straight in Montreal for Rochester after having ended a 10-year, 13-game winless streak north of the border last year, 2-0, that also saw the end of a 12-game scoring drought in Quebec.
Midfielder Rocco Placentino opened the score in the 6th minute of play. Defender Cedric Joqueviel, who initiated an offensive play, dribbled over a few meters and passed the ball to Placentino in the box, who laced a powerful shot to the top corner on the near side, beating goalkeeper Scott Vallow to his right.
The Rhinos tied the score in the 24th minute. Following a throw-in in Impact territory, Rhinos midfielder Chris Nurse deflected the ball with a header, beating goalkeeper Matt Jordan with a lobe in the opposite corner of the net.
Midfielder Tiger Fitzpatrick gave the lead to the Rhinos, scoring in stoppage time of the first half. After accepting a pass from Mike Ambersley, which was almost recovered by Zanzan, Fitzpatrick fired a high shot in the upper far side of the net, leaving no chance to Jordan, who dove to his right.
The only other clubs to have posted wins on the road thus far are 2008 US Open Cup finalist Charleston (2) and defending league champion Vancouver (1).
USL First Division
Friday, May 8
Puerto Rico Islanders 1 at Austin Aztex 1
The USL-1 Defender of the Year from a year ago Cristian Arrieta located the scoring touch that helped him win the honor last year when he tallied six minutes before the break. The expansion Aztex would level terms, however, in the 67th when Eddie Johnson connected with Cuban Yordany Alvarez.
Saturday, May 9
Charleston Battery 2 at Carolina RailHawks 1
Former RailHawks came back to haunt Carolina as Dan Antoniuk found the back of the net just three minutes into the contest. The quick hole was dug deeper when Amir Lowery was sent off in the 18th minute for Carolina. Defender Frankie Sanfilippo also enjoyed his return with a strike in the 54th minute that stood as the winner, although Gavin Glinton cut the deficit in half in the 73rd. Despite John Wilson's sending-off for Charleston in the 83rd that put both teams on equal footing, Carolina was unable to find the equalizer on the scoreboard.
Portland Timbers 0 at Cleveland City Stars 0
The promoted City Stars earned their first point of the year as head coach Rod Underwood led his new club to the draw against the Timbers, whom he served as an assistant. Cleveland's Hunter Gilstrap was busy in goal, stopping 11 shots on goal while Steve Cronin needed no saves to post his clean sheet.
Sunday, May 10
Puerto Rico Islanders 0 at Vancouver Whitecaps 1
After winning 2-1 in April at home in the first rematch of last year's championship, the Islanders were unable to repeat the feat at the scene of last year's defeat. The match did appear to be headed toward a scoreless draw until Wes Knight found a rising Charles Gbeke for the winner eight minutes from time.
USL Second Division
The USL-2 season has seen a few surprises, and the theme continued over the weekend. Friday's lone match was a stunner as Wilmington rocked the 2008 regular season champion Eagles 6-3 in Charlotte. The Eagles scored a minute into the match only to see the Hammerheads rattle off the next four as they rolled to the surprising result. The following night, Bermuda took advantage of a makeshift Richmond lineup to earn a second victory as Damico Coddington's strike held as the winner in the 1-0 decision. Real Maryland also scored an upset by downing rival Baltimore 2-0. Elsewhere, Harrisburg blanked Pittsburgh 3-0 in another state rivalry match-up.
Premier Development League
The three-time PDL Finalist and 2007 champion Laredo Heat opened the season Thursday with a showdown against last year's division champion Austin Aztex and came away with the 3-1 victory. Also among the teams with good results on the week were the Newark Ironbound Express, who won 4-1 at New Jersey and 5-2 at home against New Hampshire. Expansion Real Colorado also won twice, downing the visiting Kansas City Brass 3-2 and 4-0. Bradenton earned a win and a draw, blanking Nashville 4-0 and posting a scoreless draw in Panama City.
The season opened with the Hampton Roads Piranhas coming from behind on the road to best the Charlotte Eagles 2-1 Friday. On Saturday, the defending champion Pali Blues edged the Los Angeles Legends 2-1 while the 2007 champion Washington Freedom took a 1-0 decision in Boston. The New Jersey Wildcats and and Western Mass Lady Pioneers also won 1-0 on the night to round out the first weekend of play in the league.