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USSF D2 Expansion Teams Gain Points Over the Weekend

In USSF D2 weekend action, expansion teams AC St. Louis and FC Tampa Bay earned victories, while NSC Minnesota picked up a road point in Vancouver.  AC St. Louis won in sauna-like conditions over Crystal Palace Baltimore 1-0 to finally get out of the points basement in USSF D2 with a 1-0 result on Saturday afternoon, while FC Tampa Bay downed Florida rivals Miami FC 2-0 and NSC Minnesota held on for a 1-1 draw with the Whitecaps.  The Puerto Rico Islanders built some momentum going into their CONCACAF Champions League battle with the LA Galaxy Tuesday by downing Rochester 3-1.

AC St. Louis beat Crystal Palace Baltimore for the second time of the 2010 season in an afternoon game Saturday that  featured more physical play than flair, as shots on goal by both teams were few and far between.  In a game marred by 36 fouls and played in temperatures that reached 106 degrees on the pitch, the game was not an artistic affair, but still was a big win for AC St. Louis in that they surpassed Miami FC in points total.  The fourth game of a road trip that got uglier with each game, AC St. Louis showed character in taking the three points.  Midfielders Jeff Cosgriff of AC St. Louis and Tsuyoshi Yoshitake of Crystal Palace Baltimore each had two shots on goal, but it was Mike Ambersley who scored the game’s only goal on a 74th minute tight angle shot that beat Evan Bush.  AC St. Louis’ goalkeeper Alec Dufty recorded his fifth clean sheet in league play, and the win sets up Dale Schilly’s team nicely for an upcoming five-game homestand, all against teams which the expansion Saints have gotten results against.  If AC St. Louis is to get into playoff contention, the next five games are their opportunity, now having a 4-10-4 record.  Crystal Palace Baltimore, after a solid win last Sunday in Montreal, fall to 5-9-4.

The Puerto Rico Islanders raised their record to 6-7-5 by downing the USL Conference second place Rochester Rhinos Saturday evening at home.  3-1.  Rochester, in the midst of a three game road trip, opened up brightly and had several scoring chances, but Jamaican Nick Adderly sent a bicycle kick past Neil Kitson to put the Islander’s up 1-0.  The Rhinos tied up the score right before intermission, as Isaac Kissi beat Bill Gaudette from a Rich Costanzo corner kick.  Midway through the second half, Rochester defender Aaron Pitchkolan was ejected for a foul in the box, and the Islanders’ David Foley converted to put the Islanders up by a goal.  The Islanders’ Chris Nurse received a second yellow card in the 70th minute, putting both teams down a man.  Andrew Hoxie and Tyler Rosenlund had chances for the Rhinos, but it was the Islanders who came up with the last goal of the game, as Kendall Jadseosingh beat Kitson one on one in the 87th minute.  With the loss, Bob Lilley’s Rochester club falls five points behind the Austin Aztex, who have two games in hand, with a 8-5-6 record.  Colin Clarke’s Islander squad has a stern test Tuesday evening, playing the MLS leaders, the LA Galaxy, in the first leg of their CONCACAF Champions League tie.  The game will be televised on Fox Soccer Channel.

In Tampa Bay Sunday, the Rowdies ended a winless drought of almost two months with their 2-0 win over Miami FC.  The Rowdies, who played so well earlier in the season, have struggled with injury problems and fielded a very young team Sunday.  Newcomers Ricardo Sanchez and Jonny Steele, acquired from Vancouver earlier in the week, did not feature, but FC Tampa Bay were able to get goals from captain Julian Valentin in the 36th minute and Aaron King in the 66th minute to hold off Miami FC, who had good amounts of possession but couldn’t beat FC Tampa Bay goalkeeper Daryl Sattler.  Sattler earned his clean sheet, stoning former MLS MVP Christian Gomez in a one on one situation a few minutes before King’s insurance goal.  The Rowdies spoiled the coaching debut of Miami FC’s Daryl Shore, a longtime assistant with the Chicago Fire of MLS, and retain the eighth playoff spot in USSF D2 competition, on goal differential, over Puerto Rico and Montreal, each with 23 points.  Miami FC falls to 2-7-9, last in USSF D2 standings falling under AC St. Louis by a point. FC Tampa Bay gets to 23 points with a 6-7-5 mark.  FC Tampa Bay Coach Paul Dalglish commented that “we’ve played well but we’ve just had no luck.  We’ve had decisions go against us and we’ve had freak goals go against us.  You think about the luck that we’ve had and it’s just so nice to get the three points.  They said that luck evens itself out over the course of the season and hopefully ours is turning around now.”

On a beautiful Sunday night in Vancouver, over 5,200 fans saw the Whitcaps come back to salvage a point against NSC Minnesota.  According to the whitecapsfanblog, Teitur Thordarson’s Whitecaps team look “unfocused and demoralized.”   Along with sending Jonny Steele and Ricardo Sanchez to FC Tampa Bay, Vancouver also recently released Justin Moose, although forward Marlon James returned from a long injury layoff.   Manny Lagos’ NSC Minnesota Stars opened the scoring with Simone Bracalello notching his first goal of 2010 in the 28th minute on a bounced shot that eluded Whitecaps keeper Jay Nolly.  The Whitecaps were able to retaliate in the second half, though, as veteran Martin Nash beat Stars’ keeper Matt van Oekel in the 67th minute.  NSC Minnesota drew for the third game in a row, and their record stands at 7-9-5, while Vancouver continues to hold the NASL Conference lead with a 7-3-9 mark. 

In upcoming midweek action, the Carolina RailHawks host Rochester Tuesday, while Vancouver travels to Montreal and Portland visits AC St. Louis on Wednesday.

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