USL PRO ROUNDUP
Week in review: Hammerheads Edge Out Kickers
WILMINGTON, N.C. – The Wilmington Hammerheads rallied from an early deficit to take a 2-1 victory against the Richmond Kickers on Friday night at Legion Stadium. Andriy Budnyy and Corey Hertzog each scored for the Hammerheads, moving them past the Kickers into fourth place in the USL PRO standings.
The Kickers got off to a fast start as Chris Agorsor gave them the lead in the sixth minute with a delightful finish past Alex Horwath. The Hammerheads were able to tie the game 10 minutes later, however, as Budnyy rose to head home a long throw-in by Hertzog from the left side.
The Hammerheads then got another break from one of Hertzog’s long throw-ins as a handball in the penalty area gave them a penalty kick, and Hertzog scored his fourth goal since joining the club on loan from the New York Red Bulls as he fired low into the right corner of the net. Both sides had chances in the second half, but neither was able to find the back of the net, as the Hammerheads maintained their undefeated record in the league at Legion Stadium.
The Hammerheads now sit three points behind the Rochester Rhinos for third place in the standings. They will hit the road this weekend, as they open a two-game trip with a visit to the Pittsburgh Riverhounds Friday at 7 p.m. ET.
HARRISBURG CITY ISLANDERS 2, ROCHESTER RHINOS 1: A pair of goals in the final five minutes by Harrisburg’s Yann Ekra and Lucky Mkosana earned the City Islanders victory against the Rochester Rhinos at Skyline Sports Complex. The Rhinos had taken the lead through Michael Tanke, but capitulated late to their rivals.
Both sides had opportunities to take the lead in the first half, with the Rhinos having the better of the game and the City Islanders forcing Rochester goalkeeper Kristian Nicht into a pair of good saves to keep the game scoreless. With 10 minutes remaining, Tanke picked up clearance in midfield, took a pair of touches and fired from 35 yards out. Harrisburg defender Dustin Bixler got a head to Tanke’s shot, but redirected it into the right corner of the net for the opening goal.
The City Islanders surged forward to try and get back in the game, and were rewarded with four minutes remaining as Ekra held off his defender well before tucking home a finish into the left corner. Bilal Duckett made a great run down the right in the 90th minute and centered for Mkosana, whose turning shot found the left corner, giving the City Islanders victory.
The City Islanders hit the road this weekend, visiting Orlando City Friday night at the Florida Citrus Bowl at 7:30 p.m. ET as they enter a tough stretch of games that sees them face the top three teams in the league.
CHARLESTON BATTERY 3, ANTIGUA BARRACUDA FC 0: The Charleston Battery cruised to victory against Antigua Barracuda FC at Blackbaud Stadium as Nicki Paterson had a pair of goals either side of halftime. Dane Kelly also scored in the first half for the Battery, while Antigua was reduced to 10 men as Lawson Robinson was sent off in the first half.
Robinson was sent off after an altercation with Kelly that also saw the Battery player shown a yellow card in the 24th minute. The Battery took advantage of their man advantage nine minutes later as Paterson opened the scoring off a free kick from 25 yards out. The Battery then doubled their lead as Kelly broke into the left side of the penalty area and finished a minute before halftime.
Navion Boyd had a pair of big chances just after the halftime break to add to the Battery’s lead, and Peter Byers also went close for the Barracudas as his shot trickled just wide of the post. Paterson added the Battery’s third from the penalty spot, shooting low to the right corner for his league-leading eighth goal of the season to put the game away for Charleston in the 62nd minute.
LOS ANGELES BLUES 1, DAYTON DUTCH LIONS 0: The Los Angeles Blues returned to USL PRO action with victory against the Dayton Dutch Lions at Titan Stadium on Friday night as Bright Dike scored the only goal of the game. The win was the Blues’ first at Titan Stadium.
After a scoreless first half that saw both teams get chances early, Dike came close to opening the scoring in the 55th minute as he turned and rifled a shot off the crossbar. A minute later the striker, on loan to the Blues from the Portland Timbers, made no mistake as he clipped a shot into the right side of the goal, giving his side the lead.
Los Angeles came close to doubling its lead, Matt Williams making a number of fine saves throughout the night for Dayton, and the Dutch Lions pressed for an equalizer late. The Blues were able to hold on and take victory, keeping themselves in contention in the playoff race.
CHARLOTTE EAGLES 4, RICHMOND KICKERS 1: The Charlotte Eagles took their first home victory of the USL PRO season as they rallied from a first-half deficit to take victory against the Richmond Kickers at Charlotte Christian Stadium. Three second-half goals allowed the Eagles to pull away for victory, handing the Kickers their second defeat in as many nights.
The Kickers took the lead in the 19th minute as Chris Agorsor scored his second goal in as many games. The rookie’s goal was his team-leading fifth of the season, but the Eagles answered back only five minutes later as Nate Thornton found the back of the net to send the teams to the break tied.
The Eagles then took the lead in the 64th minute as Joseph Kabwe scored his first goal of the season. Miguel Ferrer then added an insurance goal in the 87th minute, while Christian Meza added the fourth in stoppage time, giving the Eagles their first win in USL PRO play in more than a month; their last came on May 5, a 2-1 victory against the Harrisburg City Islanders.
The Eagles next travel west for the quarterfinals of the U.S. Open Cup, as they face CD Chivas USA on Tuesday, June 26 at the Home Depot Center. The Kickers return home to host the Rochester Rhinos next Saturday at City Stadium at 7 p.m. ET.
PITTSBURGH RIVERHOUNDS 1, ROCHESTER RHINOS 1: The Pittsburgh Riverhounds and Rochester Rhinos played to a 1-1 draw on Sunday afternoon at Chartiers Valley Stadium as the Rhinos’ winless streak in league play reached seven games.
The Riverhounds took the lead in the 16th minute as former Rhino Tino Nunez found the back of the net on a back-post header from Stefan Lundberg’s cross. The goal was Nunez’s second of the season, making him the first Riverhound with multiple goals this summer.
The Rhinos were able to hit back on the hour-mark, however, as Quavas Kirk scored his second goal of the season to earn his side a point as he capitalized on a breakaway chance. The Rhinos remain in third place in the USL PRO standings, two points behind the second-place Charleston Battery and three ahead of the fourth-place Wilmington Hammerheads.
The Riverhounds remain at home this weekend as they host the Wilmington Hammerheads on Friday night at 7 p.m. ET. The Rhinos, meanwhile, remain on the road as they visit the Richmond Kickers on Saturday night at 7 p.m. ET at City Stadium.
ORLANDO CITY LIONS 2, ANTIGUA BARRACUDAS FC 0: Orlando City got a goal in either half as the Lions took victory against Antigua Barracuda FC at the Florida Citrus Bowl, maintaining their five-point lead at the top of the USL PRO standings.
Orlando had the better of the game, and took the lead from a corner in the 14th minute as Luke Boden’s delivery was met by Kieron Bernard for a flicked header into the back of the net. The Lions had other chances to add to their lead, but none as good as the one they received in the 76th minute as Jamie Watson was brought down in the Antigua penalty area. Watson took the penalty himself, but his low shot to the right corner was easily saved by Barracuda FC goalkeeper Molvin James.
Antigua created some chances, but was unable to seriously test Orlando goalkeeper Miguel Gallardo. The Lions added a second goal in second-half stoppage time as substitute Matt Luzunaris scored to double his side’s lead.
Orlando remains at home for its next outing as it hosts the Harrisburg City Islanders Friday night in a rematch of the 2011 USL PRO Championship Game at 7:30 p.m. ET. Antigua moves on to play in the final stage of the CFU Club Championship, where it faces Caledonia AIA on Tuesday night for a place in the CONCACAF Champions League.
LOS ANGELES BLUES 1, DAYTON DUTCH LIONS 0: Bright Dike scored his fourth goal in six games since joining the Los Angeles Blues to lead his side to a victory against the Dayton Dutch Lions at Titan Stadium. The victory gave the Blues their second win of the weekend against the Dutch Lions.
The game took a while to get going, but both sides had chances late in the first half. The Blues almost gifted the Dutch Lions the lead after a miscommunication between Erlys Garcia and Amir Abedzadeh saw Garcia head toward his own goal, only for the Cuban center back to recover in time to clear the ball away to safety.
As in the first meeting, however, Dike proved the difference. The on-loan Portland Timbers striker found the back of the net in the 62nd minute after being slipped a pass by Matt Fondy 20 yards from goal. Dike, benefitting from some extra space, took a touch and curled a fine shot into the right corner of the net for what would prove to be the game-winner.
The Blues next take a trip to the Carolinas, opening an east-coast swing with a game against the Charlotte Eagles on Thursday, June 28 at Charlotte Christian Stadium. The Dutch Lions will return home to host the Wilmington Hammerheads Saturday night at Miami Valley South Stadium at 7:30 p.m. ET.
Friday, June 22
Wilmington at Pittsburgh, 7 p.m. ET
Harrisburg at Orlando, 7:30 p.m. ET
Saturday, June 23
Rochester at Richmond, 7 p.m. ET
Harrisburg at Charleston, 7:30 p.m. ET
Wilmington at Dayton, 8 p.m. ET
Thursday, June 28
Los Angeles at Charlotte, 7 p.m. ET
Friday, June 29
Charleston at Antigua, 7 p.m. ET
Orlando at Dayton, 8 p.m. ET
Saturday, June 30
Orlando at Pittsburgh, 7 p.m. ET
Harrisburg at Rochester, 7:05 p.m. ET
Los Angeles at Wilmington, 7:30 p.m. ET
Sunday, July 1
Charleston at Antigua, 7 p.m. ET