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Carolina and Rochester Put the Hurt on Playoff Hopes of Miami FC and Crystal Palace Baltimore

In Wednesday night USSF D2 action, two teams that really needed a result, Crystal Palace Baltimore and Miami FC, were denied as the Carolina RailHawks came back at home to register a 2-1 win over the Blues while the visiting Rochester Rhinos blanked Crystal Palace Baltimore, 2-0 and showed that they are determined to hold onto the USL Conference 1st place spot that they recently wrestled away from the Austin Aztex.

The RailHawks had been struggling lately, but were able to raise their season record to 8-6-7, seven points behind NASL Conference leader Vancouver and six points ahead of third place Portland.  The RailHawks have two games in hand compared on both the Whitecaps and Timbers, and could make a move on winning the conference if they can build upon Wednesday’s performance, their first come from behind victory in 2010. 

Miami FC opened the game’s scoring.   Neither team had a shot in the first 21 minutes of play, until Matt Watson of the RailHawks had  chance on an Etienne Barbara cross.  Nic Platter, the former Minnesota Thunders goalkeeper, got a rare start for Carolina and came up with a big save as the half ended, knocking Christian Gomez’ free kick over the crossbar.  Four minutes after half, Miami FC’s Mr. Offense Paulo Araujo Jr struck for his eight goal of the season, driving in a rebound of a Danilo Martins shot.  But Carolina was able to counter in the 71st minute as midfielder Gregory Richardson scored on a diving header from a Greg Shields cross to beat Miami FC keeper Caleb Patterson.  Three minutes later,  Barbara, the striker from Malta, one-timed a cross from Richardson for the game winner.  Araujo Jr. attempted to level the match shortly afterwards, but his shot hit the woodwork  Martin Nunez’s chance to get an equalizer for the Blues went over the crossbar.  Martin Rennie’s RailHawks did an excellent job of killing out the clock in the closing minutes of the game, and left Daryl Shore’s Blues still at the bottom of the USSF D2 table with 20 points. 

I’m really pleased that we won,” said RailHawks head coach Martin Rennie. “We showed a lot of character and determination to come back, and as far as I know it’s the first time in franchise history that the team has come back after giving up the first goal. So it’s a massive night for the RailHawks and all the guys who fought hard to get the result.”

Meanwhile in Baltimore, Bob Lilley’s Rochester Rhinos proved that their recent move atop the USL Conference was no fluke by beating Crystal Palace Baltimore 2-0.  The Baltimore squad, who have played well this season against the Rhinos, kept the visitors off the scoreboard for 78 minutes,  and missed an opportunity to score earlier in the second half when Santiageo Fusilier’s shot hit the Rhinos’ crossbar.  The Rhinos netted first, though, as a shot hit the leg of CP Baltimore midfielder Dan Lader and deflected into the net for an own goal.  Baltimore tried to rally back, but shots by Tsuyoshi Yoshitake and Lader missed the mark and the Rhinos added a very late goal by defender Adam West, his first of the season, to seal the victory.   Neil Kitson claimed the clean sheet for the Rhinos.

CP Baltimore’s loss leaves them with a 6-11-6 record, and Jim Cherneski’s chance missed the chance to pass Montreal in the NASL Conference standings.  Rochester now leads Austin by four points in the USL Conference  — Austin, however, has four games in hand.  Rochester and Austin have already concluded their two game series for 2010, with Rochester winning the first matchup 2-1 while both teams played to a scoreless draw in the second contest. 

Tonight FC Tampa Bay will be out to get three points at home against the Vancouver Whitecaps.   Both teams have added several players in recent weeks, and while Vancouver have been one of the better teams in USSF D2 this year, the Rowdies will have home field advantage going for them along with the vital need to get a result for a successful playoff push.  On Friday night, AC St. Louis will host the Puerto Rico Islanders, fresh over the Islanders 1-1 draw with Olimpia Tuesday night in CONCACAF Champions League action.

This Saturday, Crystal Palace Baltimore will host the Montreal Impact, while Miami FC continues their three game roadtrip in Rochester and NSC Minnesota play host to the Portland Timbers.  On Sunday, the Carolina RailHawks will be guests at House Park against the Austin Aztex.

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