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USSF D2 Weekend Roundup

In weekend USSF D2 action, the Austin Aztex maintained its USL Conference lead with a 2-0 home win over AC St. Louis on Saturday.  Also on Saturday, the visiting Carolina RailHawks downed the Rochester Rhinos 1-0 and Miami FC came back to gain a 1-1 draw with the Puerto Rico Islanders.  On Sunday, Crystal Palace Baltimore notched an important 2-1 win over the Montreal Impact before over 13,000 fans at Saputo Stadium.

The Austin Aztex upped their season record to 10-2-5 as they dismantled the expansion AC St. Louis squad 2-0 at House Park.  The Aztex had been in a slight scoring slump, but opened the contest pressuring the young team and never stopped, outshooting them 27-6.  AC St. Louis goalkeeper Alec Dufty was given a yellow card for taking down Aztex’ midfielder Lance Watson inside the six-yard box, and a penalty kick was awarded.  Diving to his right, however, Dufty was able to deny Eddie Johnson’s attempt to convert the PK.  A bit later, though, AC St. Louis midfielder Jeff Cosgriff was redcarded for a handball in the box, and another penalty kick was awarded, and Jamie Watson was able to convert to give the Aztex a 1-0 lead.  In the second half, Maxwell Griffin doubled the lead with a 68th minute blast, assisted by Eddie Johnson.  AC St. Louis has improved play considerably over the last six weeks, but seemed to be caught flat-footed by Adrian Heath’s Aztex speed and attacking ability.  Dufty did well to keep AC St. Louis in the game.  Miguel Gallardo earned his fifth clean sheet of the season by making a quality save on a second half Mike Ambersley blast.  Coach Dale Schilly’s AC St. Louis team falls to 3-9-4 on the season.

In Rochester, over 7,300 fans witnessed the RailHawks end the Rhinos’ eight game league unbeaten streak, as the Rhinos potent offense was shut down for the second game in a row.  The RailHawks had their own undefeated streak ended by Montreal on Wednesday but were able to score in the 14th minute against Rochester.  RailHawks’ defender Mark Schulte sent a long ball to Josh Gardner, who beat his defender and sent a cross to Sallieu Bundu, who beat Neil Kitson for the game’s only goal.  Bob Lilley’s Rhinos had a few chances to equalize, but RailHawks goalkeeper Eric Reed was equal to the task, stopping a long-distance Ryan Heins shot and knocking away an attempt by Anthony Hamilton.  The RailHawks’ Floyd Franks had a chance to double the lead in the 85th minute after beating his defender, but his shot went wide.  Carolina gained their fifth road win of the season and upped their record to 6-3-6, while Rochester remain second to Austin in the USL Conference with a 7-4-6 season mark.  Martin Rennie’s Carolina team is only five points behind Vancouver in the NASL Conference, with two games in hand.

In Miami, the Miami FC Blues were able to gain a tie late in their match with the Puerto Rico Islanders.  Jamacian forward  Nicholas Adderly got the game’s first tally,  beating Miami’s Caleb Patterson in the 33rd minute with a top-shelf shot to give the Islanders a 1-0 lead.  Miami FC had a chance to draw later in the first half, but Brian Shriver’s shot from inside the box went wide of goal.  At the hour mark, Islanders’ keeper Cody Laurendi tipped a shot by Miami’s Paulo Araujo Jr over the crossbar.  The Islanders kept their lead until stoppage time, when another Brian Shriver shot was saved by Laurendi, but the rebound fell to Araujo Jr, who knocked it in for his seventh goal in league play to salvage a draw for the Blues.  Miami FC begins a four game road trip with a 2-6-9 record, while Puerto Rico is 5-7-4.

On Sunday, Montreal hosted Crystal Palace Baltimore, who proved to be ungracious guests by defeating Montreal 2-1.  Montreal got an early goal, as midfielder Leonardo di Lorenzo beat CP Baltimore keeper Evan Bush with a high shot in the third minute.  CP Baltimore had a chance to respond only four minutes later, but Gary Brooks’ bicycle kick barely missed the net.  Montreal’s Phillipe Billy struck a nice free kick from 35 yards out in the 28th minute that Bush handled.  At the end of the first half, though, CP Baltimore equalized on a Brooks’ shot from 25 yards out that was begun from a short pass by Andrew Marshall.  The teams were knotted at half, 1-1.  After intermission, Canadian international Ali Gerba subbed in for Peter Byers on Montreal’s frontline.  Gerba, who was signed Thursday by the Impact through the 2011 season after the release of forward Roberto Brown, is in his fourth stint with Montreal after playing in Germany, England, Scandinavia and the MLS.  His presence wasn’t enough to keep CP Baltimore from getting a big three points, though.  In the 65th minute, CP Baltimore scored the game-winner on a Shaun Pejic shot that deflected off of Marshall and into the Montreal goal.  The win, CP Baltimore’s fourth road win of the season, put Jim Cherneski’s Baltimore squad only one point out of the eighth playoff position with a record of 5-8-4, and only one point behind Montreal in the NASL Conference, who fell to 5-7-5.

Last Wednesday, Montreal beat Carolina 1-0, AC St. Louis drew with NSC Minnesota 2-2, Rochester and Crystal Palace Baltimore played a scoreless draw and Vancouver trumped Miami FC 3-1,  Thursday Puerto Rico and FC Tampa Bay played a scoreless game.  This week, Montreal hosts AC St. Louis on Wednesday, while FC Tampa Bay plays host to Rochester and Vancouver and Portland square off on Thursday.

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