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USSF D2 Weekend Roundup

In this week’s USSF D2 action, FC Tampa Bay won over the Carolina RailHawks 2-1, Miami FC went on the road and played its fifth draw tying NSC Minnesota 1-1, the Austin Aztex downed Crystal Palace Baltimore 2-1, Vancouver hosted a scoreless draw with Montreal and AC St. Louis got its first road point as they gained a last second draw at Portland.  On Thursday, Crystal Palace Baltimore grabbed its first victory of 2010 over Portland. 1-0.

Friday night FC Tampa Bay travelled to WakeMed Soccer Park and came away with a 2-1 victory over the Carolina RailHawks.  Carolina opened the scoring  on a 42nd minute Gregory Richardson penalty kick.  They kept their lead for the first hour of the game, but at the 61st minute the Rowdies’ Joe Donoho knocked a header past RailHawks keeper Nic Platter.  The Rowdies added the game winner in the 84th minute as Aaron Wheeler scored on a cross from Kwame Adjeman-Pamboe, and were able to deny a late Carolina attack to come away with three points.  “I’m disappointed in the loss because we played some of our best soccer tonight,” said RailHawks coach Martin Rennie. “We did a lot of the right things tonight, we dominated in the first half and we controlled the tempo in the second half. We created chances and we have to execute on several things we do in training.”  The RailHawks fall to 1-2-2 as they begin a four-game roadtrip, and the Rowdies take their 2-1-2 record next week to St. Louis to take on fellow newcomer AC St. Louis.

Saturday Miami FC made its first road trip, heading north to take on the NSC Minnesota Stars.  Unbelievably, the Blues recorded yet another draw, 1-1, their fifth draw in five games, before 1500 fans at NSC Stadium.  Johnny Menyongar got the Stars on the board in the 55th minute in a game dominated by the outstanding goalkeeping of Miami’s Caleb Patterson and NSC Minnesota’s Joe Warren.  Warren stopped his third penalty kick in three consecutive games, this time stoning Miami’s Abe Thompson.   Miami FC finally notched the score on a Christian Gomex cross to Paulo Araujo Jr.  NSC Minnesota now stands at 2-5-1 while Miami remains undefeated and winless at 0-0-5.  NSC Minnesota Coach Manny Lagos said afterwards that “this was a great game for the fans, with great attacking soccer from both teams. This early in the season, we’ve got to keep emphasizing the positives and keep holding our heads up. We know the results will come.”   His counterpart, Miami FC mentor Victor Pastore commented that “we are eager to win our first game, but we can’t forget the fact that we are undefeated. Coming back the way we did and pushing for a win away from home is sign of our players’ will to win and refusing to lose. The results that bring us three points will come if we stay committed to getting better.”

Crystal Palace Baltimore swung south to Austin, Texas Saturday for a match after their big upset Thursday night against the Timbers at PGE Park.  However, CP Baltimore could not continue their success on the road, as they fell to Adrian Heath’s Aztex, 2-1.   Early on, the game was a struggle for both teams to establish possession, although the Aztex missed a scoring chance by former St. Louis Lion Lawrence Olum when he was judged to be offside.   At the 35 minute mark though, Austin broke the ice as Lance Watson chipped over CP Baltimore goalkeeper Evan Bush to take the lead.  Aztex’ midfielder Eddie Johnson provided the assist.  In the 70th minute, though, CP Baltimore’s Mathew Mbuta beat the Aztex’ offside trap and netted past Miguel Gallardo.  But the Aztex replied quickly, as Jamie Watson fired past Bush from Maxwell Griffin’s cross for his fourth goal of the season to complete the scoring.  The Aztex raise their point total to a league-best 13 with a 4-1-1 record, while Crystal Palace Baltimore drops to 1-4-1.

In a battle between the two leading NASL conference clubs, neither MLS bound Montreal or Vancouver could find a goal, as they settled for a scoreless draw at Vancouver’s Swansgard Stadium before 5,000 fans.  Neither Canadian club was able to take advantage of scoring opportunities as the Whitecaps played without Captain Martin Nash and offensive threat Jonny Steele, as Whitecaps’ Jay Nolly recorded yet another clean sheet and the Impact’s Matt Jordan added one to his tally. The draw leaves Vancouver one point ahead of Montreal in the NASL conference with respective records of  2-1-3 and 2-1-2.  Defending  USL champ Montreal was eliminated earlier in the week by Toronto FC in the Canadian Nutrilite Championship.

Finally, the Portland Timbers had a tough week, hosting cellar dwellers Crystal Palace Baltimore on Thursday and AC St. Louis on Saturday, and coming up with only one point.  The Timbers didn’t play poorly at all, but just were unable to put away either team as CP Baltimore won its first 2010 game 1-0 and AC St. Louis came back on a 90th minute stoppage time goal by midfielder Mike Ambersley to salvage a tie for the young St. Louisans.  The Timbers opened the scoring against St. Louis in the 66th minute on a Mandjou Keita strike, assisted by league-leading scorer Ryan Pore, and Portland was the dominant team offensively, as AC St. Louis played a 4-5-1 with only young Alex Titton upfront.  AC St. Louis, however, kept their poise until they were able to finally break down Portland’s defense, as Jack Traynor’s long pass hit Ryan Moore in the Portland corner, and Moore’s cross found Tim Velten, who’s tap went to Ambersley, who wheeled to his left to beat Steve Cronin and silence the crowd of over 10,000.  AC St. Louis goes to 1-5-1, while the Timbers look to regain their lost magic and stand at stand at 3-1-2, trailing the Austin Aztex by two points.  The Puerto Rico Islanders and Rochester Rhinos were idle.

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