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Carolina, Portland Take Care of Business

In Baltimore Saturday night, the Carolina RailHawks took care of business, bouncing back from a disappointing loss in Minnesota Wednesday night to score three first half goals en route to a 4-2 win over Crystal Palace Baltimore.  Similarly, the Portland Timbers extended their unbeaten streak at Juan Ramon Loubriel Stadium in Bayamon, Puerto Rico, shutting down the Islanders 1-0.

The RailHawks ripped the game wide open in the first fourteen minutes of play.  Midfielder Gregory Richardson opened the scoring in the 9th minute of play as an intercepted pass resulted in Richardson’s blast past CP Baltimore’s newcomer in goal, Mark Murphy, playing in place of regular Evan Bush.  Moments later, the RailHawks doubled their lead as Jun Marques Davidson opened his 2010 account, assisted by Floyd Franks.  The RailHawks deluge continued, as defender Kupuno Low converted a penalty kick that was awarded after a foul by Murphy.  Fourteen minutes, three goals.  Carolina midfielder Daniel Paladini almost added another goal late in the first half, but his shot hit the Baltimore crossbar.

Despite the onslaught, Jim Cherneski’s Baltimore team showed some backbone and came out in the second half to score two unanswered goals and narrow Carolina’s lead to 3-2.  English defender Shaun Pejic scored his first 2010 goal five minutes after half, and newcomer Alan Sanchez took a Neto pass and scored at the hour mark.  Any dreams of a Baltimore result, however, came to an end five minutes later as St. Louisan Tom Heinemann scored his second goal in four games since joining the RailHawks from USL-2 champions Charleston Battery.  Heinemann’s goal sealed the Carolina victory and raised their record to 11-9-8, only three points behind Vancouver for the NASL Conference title.  The win also a place in the USSF D2 playoffs for the RailHawks.  The RailHawks outshot Crystal Palace Baltimore 18-8, as the Baltimore squad dropped to the bottom spot in the USSF D2 standings with a 6-16-6 records.  They were, however,  able to break their scoreless string of games, which stood at five coming into Saturday’s action. 

Crystal Palace Baltimore have two games remaining.  They host the Portland Timbers next Saturday at Paul Angelo Russo Stadium before ending the season on the road in Tampa the following weekend.  Carolina, who’s win in Baltimore was their seventh road win of 2010, finish the regular season with two home matches as they try to bypass Vancouver for the NASL title.  Next Saturday Martin Rennie’s RailHawks host the Puerto Rico Islanders, and on Friday October 1 the RailHawks finish the regular season against the Austin Aztex.

Portland extended their unbeaten streak to eight games Saturday night against the Puerto Rico Islanders.  The win raised the Timbers record to 12-7-9, as Steve Cronin recorded his fourth consecutive clean sheet and twelth of the season.  The Islanders, who’s big win over Austin last weekend was tempered by a poor showing against Toluca in the CONCACAF Champions League on Wednesday night, fell to 9-10-9.  The Islanders currently hold the seventh place playoff berth, one point behind NSC Minnesota and two points ahead of Montreal prior to Montreal’s Sunday match with FC Tampa Bay.

Both the Islanders and Timbers tallied three shots during a scoreless first half.  On a rain-soaked field, the best scoring chance in the half belonged to USSF D2’s leading goal scorer, Ryan Pore.  Pore ran onto an Ian Joy cross and powered a header just over the Islander’s crossbar. 

Timbers’ newcomer Kalif Alhassan was the difference maker in the game.  Making his first Timbers start, the 19 year-old Ghanaian earned his team three points in second-half stoppage time, as he took a pass from Rodrigo Lopez and chipped the ball over Islanders’ goalkeeper Bill Gaudette from 25 yards out.  The Islanders had nine shots in the second half, but were unable to take advantage of chances by Jonathan Fana and Keon Daniel. 

Gavin Wilkinson’s Portland club continue their season-ending road trip next Saturday in Baltimore before finishing the season in Vancouver on Saturday October 2.  Colin Clarke’s Islanders, who drew a crowd of over 3,600 in the final regular season home game, play in Carolina next Saturday before finishing in Miami the following Saturday.  They are also on the road Wednesday as they play CONCACAF Champions League opponent FAS in El Salvador Wednesday.

Notes:  The Timbers’ Bright Dike, who has scored seven times in 2010, missed the game in Puerto Rico because of yellow card accumulation.  Nicholas Addlery was not on the game for the Islanders.  Coach Jim Cherneski played the entire 90 minutes for CP Baltimore. 

CP Baltimore Starting Lineup:  Murphy, Veeder, Pejic, Marshall, Lader, Healey, Fusilier, Cherneski, Mbuta, Sanchez, Neto

Carolina Starting Lineup:  Platter, Woolard, Low, Elenio, Bobo, Watson, Paladini, Franks, Davidson, Richardson, Heinemann  Subs Used:  Gardner, Russell, Budnyy

Puerto Rico Starting Lineup:  Gaudette, Velez, Rivera, Martinez, Henry, Miranda, Gbandi, Daniel, Allison, Foley, Fana  Subs Used:  Bangura, Jagdeosingh, Nurse

Portland Starting Lineup:  Cronin, Smith, Kirk, Keel, Joy, Pore, Marcelin, Claesson, Alhassan, Suzuki, DeMartin  Subs Used:  Purdy, Muhamadu, McManus, Lopez, Danso

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