By TRAVIS CLARK
The Austin Aztex had two chances to win both the outright USSF D-2 title last weekend, and both times they came up empty-handed.
Playing two games in a three day span isn't easy, and both were on the road. Friday night, the Aztex were beaten handily by the Carolina Railhawks 3-1. The result, combined with Vancouver's tie against Portland, secured the No. 2 seed for the Railhawks and a first round matchup against Minnesota.
After Rochester's win on Saturday, the Aztex could have clinched against Montreal, but came away 2-0 losers, with striker Randi Patterson getting sent off. He'll miss the opening leg of the playoffs as a result.
The two losses could end up being a blessing in disguise — Austin avoids a quarterfinal matchup against Puerto Rico, one of their biggest nemesis all season, and will get a rematch with Montreal as the D-2 playoffs are scheduled to begin on Wednesday. Still, losing two straight while getting outscored 5-1 is no way to prepare for the playoffs.
Here's a look at the rest of this weekend's D-2 action:
PUERTO RICO DRAWS MIAMI
A game with very little at stake saw Miami's win-streak snapped as the Islanders managed a 1-1 draw in Florida. The two sides traded goals in the game's first 15 minutes, Danilo Martins for the Blues and on-loan defender David Horst for the Islanders. That would be all the goals this game would see, as the Islanders prepare for the playoffs and Miami looks to next year.
WHITECAPS, TIMBERS TIE
The last regular season game at Swangard Stadium in Vancouver ended in a 2-2 draw between the Whitecaps and Portland Timbers, but it won't be the last in 2010. As a result of the tie, Portland and Vancouver will meet in the first round of the 2010 D-2 playoffs, starting on Thursday back in Vancouver. Cody Arnoux grabbed the equalizer for the Whitecaps, after Bright Dike put the Timbers ahead in the second half.
ROWDIES ROUT BALTIMORE
In a bizarre game with no real implications, the Tampa Bay Rowdies won a goal-scoring fest with Crystal Palace Baltimore by a 6-3 score. Visiting Baltimore was so short-handed that coach Jim Cherneski suited up, scoring twice, while Aaron King and Mozzi Gyorio each had two goals for Tampa Bay.
ROCHESTER WINS IN ST. LOUIS
Needing a win to have any shot at the No. 1 seed in the playoffs and the regular season league championship, Rochester delivered a 2-1 win over expansion St. Louis and will face Puerto Rico in the quarterfinals. Despite falling behind 1-0 in the 3rd minute, Isaac Kissi led the comeback, scoring twice to lead the Rhinos to the win.