By TRAVIS CLARK
Two new teams played their first-ever matches, but it was second-year club Austin Aztex that emerged big winners as the USSF Division 2 kicked off over the weekend.
The Aztex, fresh off a maiden season in which they look every bit of an expansion team, opened up 2010 by defeating last season's champion the Montreal Impact by a 2-0 score in Austin. Goals came from Lawrence Olum and Jamie Watson stood up, as Austin 'keeper Miguel Gallardo earned his first shutout of the season.
Montreal's new signing Reda Agourram couldn't pull one back for the visitors, who struggled to cope with the small pitch. Montreal will hope to bounce back in the home opener up in Saputo Stadium on April 25 against the visiting Portland Timbers.
Here's a look at the rest of the action from the USSF Division 2's opening weekend:
CAROLINA BESTS A.C. ST. LOUIS
A season of high expectations officially got underway as the Carolina Railhawks took care of new club A.C. St. Louis, 2-0. New Railhawk signing Etienne Barbara's brace in the first half was all the stout Carolina defense needed, holding St. Louis scoreless through 90 minutes — though the visitors missed a glorious chance to pull one back in the 29th minute when John Lesko failed get his header on target. Eric Reed's solid performance in goal was enough to earn Carolina the clean sheet and three points.
MINNESOTA LOSES CRAYTON, GAME
Through the game's first half, Minnesota had successfully frustrated host Vancouver. Lacking that killer touch in the final third, the Whitecaps were given a unusual boost when Minnesota keeper Louis Crayton was stretched off near the half's end. His replacement, 34-year-old Joe Warren, was making his first professional appearance in four years.
The new keeper gave Vancouver a shot of confidence, as Warren struggled in the transition. Two second half goals from Luca Bellisomo and Marlon James earned a 2-0 win for the Whitecaps.
MIAMI, ROCHESTER TIE IN FLORIDA
New eras began for a new-look Rochester side and a re-tooled Miami FC. Christian Gomez made his second-division debut for Miami, but it was the Rhinos who took the lead when Tyler Roselund set up Ryan Heins for the game's first goal in the 21st minute. Needing a spark, the Blues sent on Paulo Araujo Jr., who paid dividends when he scored on a 47th minute corner kick. Abe Thompson came close to a late winner for Miami, but the two sides shared the points in a 1-1 draw.
What did you think of the first week of USSF Division 2 action?
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