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USL Week 18 Rewind: Kickers upset Steel, OCSC move closer to playoffs, and more

The USL’s longest unbeaten run came to a sudden end this weekend at the hands of an unlikely foe, as the Richmond Kickers upset the Bethlehem Steel.

The Kickers had been struggling to earn points and were on a 13-game winless streak and gave Bethlehem their first loss since May 25th. Elsewhere in USL action,

Let’s take a look at the rest of this weekend’s action.

New York Red Bulls II 1-0 Toronto FC II

The Red Bulls II might feel a bit fortunate with the result, but the 1-0 win over Toronto FC II is still three points for a squad that has struggled all year. With Jordan Scarlett returning to the lineup, the Red Bulls defense stood on its head all evening. Vincent Bezecourt scored the winner for the hosts from a flick on header by Junior Flemmings. Bezecourt controlled the ball in stride, and easily finished past Mark Pais in the 27th minute. Pais came up big for the visitors a number of times in the first half, maintaining the narrow lead for the Red Bulls, but TFC II could not finish their chances. The win pushes the Red Bulls back above the red line for now, but creating momentum will be their challenge now.

Rochester Rhinos 0-0 Pittsburgh Riverhounds

With neither team finding the breakthrough, the Rhinos and Riverhounds walked away from the match with a point each. The Riverhounds were content to stay compact and counter, keeping the Rhinos from looking dangerous in the run of play for most of the match. Tomas Gomez played hero for the Rhinos on the night, saving dangerous chances from Taylor Washington, Kay Banjo, and Romeo Parks.

Tampa Bay Rowdies 2-0 Charleston Battery

Are the Rowdies in revival mode? After defeating the Eastern Conference leaders 2-0 Saturday, the Rowdies are now undefeated in their last three matches. Former England international Joe Cole opened the scoring for the Rowdies in the 40th minute. Alex Morrell found Cole streaking into the box and the former Chelsea and West Ham United man dribbled through the defense and fired low past Alex Tambakis.

The Rowdies nearly doubled the lead through Georgi Hristov in the 65th minute, but his shot rang off the crossbar. Martin Paterson finished the game off for the Rowdies in the 69th minute. Marcel Schafer crossed to Paterson in the box. Paterson controlled the ball with a beautiful turn and fired a bullet past Tambakis. With the loss, the Battery sit only three points clear of both Louisville City and Charlotte Independence for the top spot in the Eastern Conference.

Richmond Kickers 3-2 Bethlehem Steel FC

In the biggest upset of the weekend, the Kickers came from behind to defeat Bethlehem 3-2 at home Saturday. Aaron Jones put the visitors ahead in the 39th minute on a free kick that dipped and curled its way into the net. With Bethlehem ahead at the half, the Kickers’ fate seemed certain.

The Kickers came out with fire to start the second half, scoring 26 seconds into the half. Oliver lined up a shot from nearly 40 yards out and beat goalkeeper Tomas Romero. Without wasting any time to celebrate, the Kickers struck again just a minute later. The Kickers pounced upon Bethlehem’s defensive mistake with Jake Robinson collecting the ball alone in the box. His low cross beat everyone, finding Luiz Fernando streaking at the back post for the easy finish.

Bethlehem leveled the score in the 69th minute through Ken Tribbett on a cross to the near post, setting up a wild finish to the match. In the 87th minute, Samuel Assante collected a poor clearance, and then fired a shot from the top of the box. The low skipping shot beat Romero, and the Kickers would hold the lead for the win, snapping a 13-game winless streak.

Orange County SC 4-0 Rio Grande Valley FC

Orange County SC are now just one point back from a playoff spot thanks to a 4-0 win over Rio Grande Valley FC on Saturday. Jeannot Esua opened the scoring for the home side with a finish in the 8th minute. Roy Meeus doubled the lead from the penalty spot in the 27th minute after a handball in the box.

In the second half, things just got worse for RGV, giving up two additional goals with less than 10 minutes to go. In the 82nd minute, a Dusan Stevanovic cross to the back post found the head of Wuilito Fernandes. Minutes later, Zach Kobyashi extended the lead moments after entering the game. OCSC are now undefeated in their last six games.

OKC Energy FC 4-3 Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC

Loanee Jose Angulo made the most of his change in scenery for the Energy, scoring a brace to help lead the home side over the Switchbacks 4-3. The Switchbacks got things rolling in the 25th minute through Jordan Burt. Burt deflected a shot after the ball bounced around the box following a corner kick. OKC would answer back, scoring the next three goals in the 39th, 45th, and 51st minutes through Miguel Gonzalez and Angulo.

Angulo helped out by scoring and setting up on the night, assisting Miguel Gonzalez’s second goal. Angulo put the game out of reach in the 60th minute on a slow cross across the box. Burt and Kevaughn Frater pulled two goals, both from the penalty spot, back for the Switchbacks, but it wasn’t enough to see the visitors earn points. For OKC, it was their first win in their last five games.

Saint Louis FC 1-4 Louisville City FC

Louisville City rode a strong second half performance to a big victory over Saint Louis FC on Saturday by a score of 4-1. Saint Louis snatched a late goal in the first half, taking a 1-0 lead to the break via Daniel Jackson’s far post finish in first half stoppage time.

Louisville struck twice just after the break to take the lead and never looked back, especially after Christian Volesky earned a red card for a high boot to Sean Reynolds. Lousiville took advantage of the red almost immediately. First, Oscar Jiminez cut back on the right side of the box and curled a shot to the far post in the 52nd minute. Then, Jiminez played provider, sending a low cross into the box that Paco Craig finished in the 57th minute. Louisville struck twice more by way of Luke Spencer and Cameron Lancaster in the final 10 minutes to rack up four goals on the night. The win puts them three points behind the Battery for first place in the East.

San Antonio FC 2-2 Real Monarchs SLC

Two Western Conference powers met in a game that did not disappoint though it ended level. Davin Vega got San Antonio on the board in the 27th minute, but the Monarchs answered right back through Chandler Hoffman in the 32nd minute. The Monarchs looked a bit off on the night as San Antonio tried to smother them with pressure, and it largely worked.

With the Monarchs defending on their backfoot, Kris Tyrpak scored the go ahead goal in the 68th minute. While it looked like we were in for an upset, the Monarchs answered late to split the points. Max Lachowski scored in the 86th minute on a cross to the back post. The soft header back across goal left Diego Restrepo wrong footed and unable to make a save. The race at the top of the Western Conference table is heating up, with SAFC, Swope Park Rangers, and the Monarchs all within seven points.

Tulsa Roughnecks FC 3-0 Phoenix Rising FC

Phoenix Rising’s struggles were not alleviated Saturday night, falling to the Roughnecks 3-0. Ian Scantesson headed home a Juan Pablo Caffa corner in the 15th minute, and the Roughnecks never looked back. Jacori Hayes scored his first professional goal just before the half, pouncing on a ball in the box that he coolly slid home in the 44th minute. Second half sub Christian Thierjung scored in the 85th minute to round out the scoring. Thierjung is a PDL alumnus that recently joined the team. The Roughnecks leaped over Sounders 2 and Switchbacks into sixth place with the victory.

FC Cincinnati 3-0 Harrisburg City Islanders

The Islanders faced and failed a big test Saturday with a decisive 3-0 loss to FC Cincinnati. Two lightning delays, one in each half, halted action for a period, but the crowd of 18,334 was not disappointed they stuck around. Djiby Fall scored his 11th goal of the season five minutes after the game resumed from the first half lightning delay in the 32nd minute. Fall cut back and finished a curling effort to put the home side up for good.

In the 70th minute, Fall turned provider, slotting a pass into Danny Konig that beat the back line, and the striker fired low and in. Jimmy McLaughlin put the icing on the cake with a goal in the 86th minute, running at the back line and finishing low to the far post. The Islanders’ three-game unbeaten streak was snapped with the loss. Cincinnati has now won three straight.

Reno 1868 FC 1-1 Portland Timbers FC 2

Timbers 2 picked up their sixth point of the season with a gutsy draw against a quality side in Reno 1868. Reno controlled the early goings, but failed to capitalize on its chances. In the second half, 1868 seemed to have exercised their demons and scored from Seth Casiple’s deflected shot in the 71st minute.

The Timbers kept 1868 from adding to the scoreline, and their defensive efforts were rewarded in the 83rd minute. Villyan Bijev‘s shot from the top of the box forced a save from Matt Bersano, but the keeper parried it back out into the box. Giovanni Calixtro pounced on the loose ball and equalized for the visitors. In a season without much to look back on, a hard fought road point is a bright spot for the Timbers.

Sacramento Republic FC 2-0 Seattle Sounders FC 2

Sunday’s lone game saw the surging Sacramento Republic defeat the Sounders 2 on the back of Sammy Ochoa’s big night. Ochoa assisted on both Sacramento goals, starting in the 16th minute. Ochoa’s lofted pass into the box found the foot of Trevin Caesar. Caesar’s venomous volley was too much for Sam Fowler to handle. Ochoa’s second assist was a bit more fortunate. Tyler Blackwood received the ball from Ochoa, and streaked down the left flank. Blackwood’s cross in ended up in the back of the net, surprising Fowler and most in the stadium. The Republic move into fourth place with the victory, while the Sounders drop to eighth.

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