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USSF D2 Weekend Roundup

In weekend USSF D2 action, the visiting NSC Minnesota Stars fought the Rochester Rhinos to a scoreless draw before over 5,200 fans Friday night at Marina Auto Stadium.  Sunday, the host Montreal Impact tied 1-1, with FC Miami.  The Vancouver Whitecaps won a squeaker, 1-0, over the visiting FC Tampa Bay Rowdies before over 5,000 fans at Swangard Stadium and the Portland Timbers were hosts to the Carolina RailHawks before a crowd of over 8,000, where the RailHawks got a stoppage time goal to draw 1-1.

Friday night’s match in Rochester saw both goalkeepers, Joe Warren of NSC Minnesota and Scott Vallow of the Rhinos, keep a clean sheet.  The Rhinos’ Tyler Rosenlund missed a scoring chance when his shot hit the crossbar early in the match.  NSC Minnesota had a chance ten minutes later, at the 18 minute mark, but Kentaro Takada was unable to find the net.  A defensive battle, Rochester outshot NSC Minnesota 8-3, and dominated in corners 8-0.   Despite being held scoreless, this was an important road point for the Stars, following their win over AC St. Louis Memorial Day weekend,  and puts them at 3-7-2, while Rochester is at 4-3-3.

In Montreal on a rainy Sunday afternoon, the Impact had to settle for a point with the visiting FC Miami Blues, before a crowd of 13,034.  Miami FC opened the scoring in the 9th minute, as Christian Gomez unleashed a powerful shot that deflected past Impact keeper Srdjan Djekanovic.  The Impact knotted the score on a controversial penalty kick award.  Tony Donatelli was able to put the ball past Caleb Patterson, who was able to get a hand on the ball but unable to keep it out of the net.  “That was a tough match,” said Impact team captain Nevio Pizzolitto. “We tried to play a simple style in the second half and were able to create some chances, but just couldn’t find a way to get all three points. It’s really important for us to win these games at home. Now we’ll have to work even harder if we hope to collect maximum points on our next road trip.”   Montreal ends the day with a record of 3-2-3 while Miami FC stand at 1-2-6.  The game was the third sellout of the season at Saputo Stadium.

The Vancouver Whitecaps narrowly gained 3 points at home against FC Tampa Bay.  Whitecaps’ veteran midfielder, captain Martin Nash, scored on a penalty kick in stoppage time at the end of the first half.  But Whitecaps’ coach Teitur Thordarson has to feel very fortunate, as FC Tampa Bay missed two sitters in the second half.  The first, at the 71 minute mark, occurred when Rowdies’ Aaron Wheeler missed a header into an empty net.  Ten minutes later, Whitecaps’ keeper Jay Nolly’s attempted punch led to an open chance for Aaron King, but the Rowdies’ attacker couldn’t quite put the ball on goal.   After losing Luca Bellisomo to a 2nd yellow card, Vancouver was able to hold on despite being a man down, and Nolly made a great save in the fifth minute of stoppage time when King had the ball pointblank on goal, and Nolly charged forward and kicked it off King’s foot.  FC Tampa Bay coach Paul Dalglish should be happy with his team’s effort, if not the result.  Vancouver holds a narrow lead over Montreal in the NASL Conference of D2 as they climb to 4-2-3 and FC Tampa Bay drops to 5-2-3, second to Austin in the USL conference.

The Portland Timbers and Carolina RailHawks played a scoreless first half, although Portland’s Stephen Keel had a shot go over the RailHawk’s crossbar in the 18th minute and Timbers’ youngster Bright Dike had a chance later in the half.  Martin Rennie’s RailHawks threatened in first half stoppage time, as a Gregory Richardson bicycle kick was headed off the goalline by a Portland defender.  After the rain poured down during intermission, it relented and Portland’s league leading scorer Ryan Pore sent a curling shot from the left that Eric Reed was able to get a fingertip on.  In the 61st minute, however, Timber Joey got to start up his chainsaw as Pore sent a low shot by an outstretched Reed and the Timbers took the lead 1-0.  The RailHawks brought in Etienne Barbara, their leading scorer, shortly afterwards.  Barbara had a chance in the 76th minute, but shot high over the Timbers’ goal.  Late in stoppage time, though Barbara worked his way into the right side of the box and assisted Daniel Palladini for a game-tying goal, reminding one of AC St. Louis’ Mike Ambersley’s game-tying stoppage time goal three weeks ago at PGE Park when the Timbers looked to have the three points sewn up.  The Timbers, who had a rough month of May after starting the season like world-beaters, got back on the good foot on Memorial Day weekend as they beat the iconic Argentine Boca Juniors squad in a friendly at PGE Park.  Coach Gavin Wilkinson will be shaking his head at having to settle for a point so late in the contest.

The league leading Austin Aztex, AC St. Louis, Crystal Palace Baltimore and the Puerto Rico Islanders were idle over the weekend.

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