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USSF D2 Weekend Roundup

The USSF D2 table tightened up this Saturday as the bottom dwelling AC St. Louis squad picked up a big road win over the Puerto Rico Islanders 1-0, while the visiting Vancouver Whitecaps handed the league-leading Austin Aztecs their second loss of the season with a 2-1 win.  In other league action, the Rochester Rhinos avenged an earlier loss to Crystal Palace Baltimore with a 2-1 victory at Marina Auto Stadium while Miami FC downed the struggling Portland Timbers 1-0, and Montreal went over the .500 mark with a 2-1 road win over FC Tampa Bay.

The Vancouver Whitecaps maintained their four point lead over Montreal in the NASL Conference with a huge road victory over Austin.  The Whitecaps, who have the stingiest defense in USSF D2, allowing only 6 goals in eleven games, are getting in sync as their finishing has improved over the last few games.  The Whitecaps impressed by coming back from a halftime deficit, as former St. Louis Lion Lawrence Olum scored for the Aztex in stoppage time.  Marcus Haber evened the score at the 68 minute mark with an assist from the Whitecaps’captain Martin Nash, who came in as a 54th minute substitute.  Later, Haber, the West Brom man, got the assist on 81st minute Nizar Khalfan goal to take the 3 points.  The Whitecaps, who are at the beginning of a five game roadtrip, now have a 5-2-4 record while the Aztex still lead USSF D2 with 24 points.

The Montreal Impact kept pace with Vancouver in the NASL conference  by beating home team FC Tampa Bay in front of a crowd of 4700.  The first half was scoreless.  FC Tampa Bay, who have been exceptional for an expansion team, had three great chances to even the score after Montreal took an 49th minute lead from a Peter Byers goal off a throughball from Roberto Brown.  Montreal, though, were able to keep the lead despite an Aaron Wheeler header, another Wheeler chance that was called offside and an Aaron King chance in the 65th minute, and added an insurance goal as Brown scored from a Tony Donatelli assist on the counter attack.  The insurance was needed, as FC Tampa Bay continued to threaten and finally netted four minutes later, as King tallied his fourth goal of the season.   Montreal shut down the Rowdies for the rest of the game though, and got the three points to go to 4-3-3 as FC Tampa Bay suffered their first home loss and dropped to 5-3-3.

In Rochester, the Rhinos got even with Crystal Palace Baltimore by delighting their home crowd of over 6,600 fans with a 2-1 win.  Rhinos’ forward Isaac Kissi scored twice, with goals right before and right after the intermission, with Andrew Hoxie assisting on both goals.  Rhinos’ keeper Scott Vallow had to make a great save at the 67th minute mark, but Crystal Palace Baltimore came back with a goal by Adauto Neto three minutes later when the Rhinos had difficulty clearing the ball.  The Rhinos are tied with FC Tampa Bay for second place in the USL Conference behind Austin with a 5-3-3 record, although the Rowdies have a slight edge with a one goal advantage in goal differential.  Crystal Palace Baltimore now stand at 3-6-2.

Miami FC were able to shut down league leading scorer Ryan Pore and his Portland Timbers teammates Saturday night for a 1-0 win.  Miami FC was missing offensive sparkplug Paulo Araujo Jr, but former LA Galaxy defender Kyle Veris came up with a headed goal in the 26th minute off a Euzebio Neto corner kick.  Miami’s Christian Gomez had a brilliant bicycle kick attempt sail over Portland’s crossbar, and in the second half Timbers’ goalie Steve Cronin made a quality save on an Abe Thompson header.   Portland had a chance to salvage a point in the 78th minute, but Mamadou Danso couldn’t connect on an opportunity in front of goal and shot wide.  Miami FC goes to 2-2-7 while the struggling Timbers sink under the .500 mark with a 3-4-4 record.

AC St. Louis gained its first ever road victory Saturday in Bayamon, Puerto Rico, 1-0, over the Islanders.  Brad Stisser was in the right spot to net the ball past Islanders’ keeper Bill Gaudette late in the first half after a nice offensive sequence by AC St. Louis.  Stisser’s goal was his first in USSF D2 play.  Goalkeeper Alec Dufty held the Islanders at bay, gaining his second clean sheet of 2010, although the Islanders certainly displayed some individual skills throughout the match and were a bit unlucky not to score.  But one must give Coach Claude Anelka’s AC St. Louis players credit for showing great character in getting a road win after Steve Ralston’s return to MLS and the team’s financial turmoil over the last few weeks.   AC St. Louis is now 2-7-1, while the Islanders fall to 3-5-0.

On Tuesday June 15, the American USSF D2 teams begin their participation in the Lamar Hunt US Open Cup.  NSC Minnesota hosts the USASA Kansas City Athletics and AC St. Louis play in Des Moines against the PDL Menace, a very successful franchise.  The winners of each contest will meet June 22.  Crystal Palace Baltimore visit the Richmond Kickers of USL-2, while the Carolina RailHawks host another USL-2 club, the Charlotte Eagles.  The Rochester Rhinos host the PDL Dayton Dutch Lions while Miam FC welcomes the PDL’s Central Florida Kraze.  FC Tampa Bay play in Dallas against USASA club Legends FC, and elsewhere in Texas Austin hosts PDL Dallas-Fort Worth Tornadoes.  Finally, the Sonoma County Sol visit PGE Park for a match with the Portland Timbers.

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