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USL Week 18 Midweek Rewind: Kickers grab a point, Monarchs win thriller, and more

The Richmond Kickers are starting to play the role of spoiler after taking four points against Eastern Conference playoff teams over their last two games.

Stout defensive performances are keeping the Kickers in matches, and finding a goal on the break is a fine way to frustrate teams at the top of the table. The Kickers can even find themselves rising into playoff position if the results continue to go their way.

The Battery also had a bit of an upset Wednesday night, but coming from behind to tie their match will seem like a victory after losing two straight matches.

Let’s take a look at the rest of the midweek action:

Charlotte Independence 0-0 Richmond Kickers

The Independence will rue their missed chances against the lowly Kickers after their 0-0 draw Wednesday night.

Enzo Martinez put in a tireless performance for the home side, but could not find a goal on the night, hitting the post and missing the target. The Kickers mostly looked to stay compact and strike on the counter, nearly grabbing the lead in the 30th minute, but Oliver Minatel could not put Raul Gonzalez’s low cross on target.

For the Kickers, the point is a symbolic one, as they stood toe to toe with one of the best teams in the Eastern conference.

Pittsburgh Riverhounds 2-2 Charleston Battery

The Battery rescued a point on the road with a late equalizer against the Riverhounds.

Maikel Chang was played into the box bu Ataulla Guerra, Chang’s shot from the left side of the box was low and to the far post, beating Riverhounds keeper Keasel Broome. The Battery opened the scoring as in the 11th minute on a Justin Portillo corner kick. Atlanta United loanee Miles Robinson found himself unmarked on the corner, and simply redirected the ball for the opening goal. The Riverhounds took control of the game through the midfield for most of the match, exploiting space left by the Battery, but it was through a set piece where they found their first goal of the match. Victor Souto tapped the ball in at the far post from a Romeo Parkes corner to level the match at one a piece. In the 62nd minute, Corey Hertzog scored on a beautiful curling effort off a short corner to put the Riverhound up 2-1, though the lead would not hold.

The Battery maintain a three-point advantage on the Independence with the draw while the Riverhounds are one point back from a playoff spot.

Rochester Rhinos 2-0 Toronto FC II

The Rhinos withstood an early offensive assault from TFCII Wednesday, eventually overcoming the shorthanded side by a score of 2-0.

TFC came out of the gate flying and controlled much of the early goings. The Rhinos goalkeeper Dan Lynd did well to keep the game level making a few big saves in the opening 30 minutes. The Rhinos got a big advantage in the 26th minute as Brandon Okony was shown a straight red for pulling down Darius Madison on a breakaway. Even with the man advantage, the Rhinos had to wait until the second half to open the scoring. Stefan DeFregger latched onto a Kenardo Forbes through ball and finished past an on rushing Mark Pais in the 58th minute. The Rhinos got an insurance goal about 20 minutes later via own goal. Attempting to stop a cross into the box, Julian Dunn deflected the ball into his own net.

The Rhinos move into sixth place heading into the weekend with a three-game road trip looming.

Rio Grande Valley FC 1-2 Real Monarchs SLC

The Monarchs took all three points Wednesday night to move nine points clear at the top of the Western Conference with a 2-1 win over RGV.

Daniel Haber opened the scoring in the 8th minute. A quickly played counter attack saw Haber slipped into the box by Reagan Dunk. Haber finished to the back post. In the 14th minute, RGV had an opportunity to level the score from the penalty spot. Jose Escalante was fouled in the box, and a diving Connor Sparrow saved the ensuing penalty from Eric Bird. The Monarchs and RGV continued to threaten but could not find the net thanks to big saves from Sparrow and Marco Carducci. RGV would eventually find an equalizer from the same man that earned the penalty in the first half, Jose Escalante. Kyle Murphy found a streaking Escalante at the top of the box. Escalante’s first time shot found the back of the net to level the score. The Monarchs would retake the lead in the 79th minute from the penalty spot. Carducci guessed wrong on the penalty, and Chandler Hoffman’s low shot found the back of the net.

While the result was not what RGV had hoped for, they put in an impressive and exciting performance against the Western Conference’s best team.

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