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USSF D2 Saturday Action: Montreal Makes Statement; Rochester and Portland Triumph

Ali Gerba


The Montreal Impact had the first five goal game in its history as they crushed Crystal Palace Baltimore 5-0 at Paul Angelo Russo Stadium Saturday.  In Rochester, the Rhinos extended their winning streak to six games as they held Miami FC to a goal and won 3-1.  Meanwhile in Blaine, Minnesota the NSC Minnesota Stars and Portland Timbers tussled with the Timbers coming out on top, 1-0. 

Montreal has had a frustrating season so far.  Along with the joy of being awarded a MLS franchise that will begin play in 2012, they have suffered from an inconsistent season that has season forwards Roberto Brown and Peter Byers dispatched.  Today in Baltimore, though, Montreal made a statement, led by forward Ali Gerba’s first half hat trick and completely shut down Crystal Palace Baltimore, discouraging CP Baltimore’s playoff hopes and ending their own six-game winless streak. 

Gerba, the much travelled Canadian international who hadn’t had a goal yet in six games since rejoining the Impact, scored the first hat trick in Impact history.  His goals in the 15th, 38th and 44th minutes were complimented by 37 year-old striker Eduardo Sebrango’s 2nd goal in the last two games.  Midfielder Antonio Ribeiro added the fifth goal for Montreal in the second half, and both he and Sebrango, along with midfielder Leonardo di Lorenzo had assists.  Matt Jordan recorded his third clean sheet of the season while Captain Nevio Pizzolitto made his 250th league start.  Impact newcomers Richard Pelettier, Anthony LeGall and Pierre-Rudolph Mayard all featured for the Impact in their most impressive win of the season. 

Coach Marc Dos Santos had reason to smile after the game.  “The three points tonight were much more important than the score of the game,” said Dos Santos. “Again we had many chances to score but the difference tonight is that we converted our opportunities. When you score one or two goals, you put yourself in a good position to win. The win is good for the team confidence. Now we have to continue to be positive, keep looking forward and think of our next opponent, because we have to continue to get points.” 

The win leaves Montreal with a 7-10-7 mark, tied for the seventh playoff spot with NSC Minnesota.  Crystal Palace Baltimore, playing their first home game at Paul Angelo Russo Stadium, have battled bravely this season despite off the field problems, fall to 6-12-6, leaving them in fourth place in the NASL Conference ahead of AC St. Louis and Miami FC.   Both those clubs have a game in hand on CP Baltimore, however.  CP Baltimore play next on Sunday August 29th in Portland, the site of CP Baltimore’s first win of 2010. 

It was Rochester Lancers Reunion Night Saturday evening at Marina Auto Stadium, as the 40th anniversary of the Lancer’s 1970 NASL Championship was celebrated with many former Lancer players on hand.  Both the Rochester Rhinos and Miami FC wore throw-back kit, with Miami FC celebrating the heritage of the Ft. Lauderdale Strikers, another successful team in the old NASL.  

But Bob Lilley’s Rhinos weren’t living in the past.  In front of over 9,100 fans, the Rhinos put Miami FC away 3-1.  Despite chances by the Rhinos’ Tyler Rosenlund and Aaron Pitchkolan and the Blues’ Paulo Araujo Jr., the game remained scoreless until late in the first half, when Rosenlund’s header into the box found Andrew Hoxie, and the big forward netted past Caleb Patterson for a 1-0 lead.  

Miami FC came back five minutes into the second half as young Brazilian Danilo Martins tied the score when he netted a rebound from a Pablo Nunez shot.  Martins has already scored twice in just four appearances since recently joining Daryl Shore’s Blues.  But Miami FC had little time to celebrate, as Rochester defender Troy Roberts scored from a pass by Pitchkolan off a corner kick.  Hoxie put the game out of reach when he converted a penalty kick.  Blues’ defender JP Rodrigues was called for a handball in the box, and Hoxie calmly beat Patterson for his 10th point of the season (3 goals, 4 assists).  The win, Rochester’s sixth in a row, leaves the Rhinos with at 14-5-6 as they have no desire to relinquish their hold on first place in the USL Conference.  Miami FC, badly needing points, slipped to 3-10-11 on the season.  The Rhinos play next Friday at Saputo Stadium against the Impact, while Miami FC are off until their September 5th match in St. Louis — most likely a must win match for both teams.  

The Portland Timbers came visiting to Blaine, Minnesota in Saturday’s final match, and left with all three points.  The Stars played well, and the game was scoreless until Stars’ goalkeeper Joe Warren was redcarded for a foul on the Timbers’ Bright Dike as he broke away and bore down one on one with the veteran goalie.  Backup goalkeeper Matt van Oekel had to come in for the penalty kick, but he was no match for USSF D2 scoring leader Ryan Pore, as Pore blasted the penalty kick for his 13th goal of the season.  Van Oekel played well in relief to keep NSC Minnesota in the game, but Coach Manny Lagos’ could not find the ace he normally keeps up his sleeve, and his 10 man squad went down in defeat.  Steve Cronin claimed the clean sheet for Portland. 

Gavin Wilkinson’s Timbers squad are now 9-7-7 as they have two 1-0 victories in succession over expansion teams on the road.  NSC Minnesota remains tied with Montreal for the seventh USSF D2 playoff spot with a 7-11-7 record.   The Timbers return to PGE Park for a big matchup with the Austin Aztex next Thursday, while the Stars are off until their September 4th date in Austin. 

On Sunday evening, the USSF D2 weekend is capped off with an Austin Aztex – Carolina RailHawks matchup at House Park.


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