By TRAVIS CLARK
Even with the World Cup right around the corner, USSF D-2 kept on cranking out mid-week action Wednesday night.
Miami FC showed a real fight back spirit, turning a 3-1 deficit against Crystal Palace Baltimore into a point. Christian Gomez's header in the final minutes tied the score at 3-3. The expansion NSC Minnesota Stars earned a surprise 1-0 win over the Montreal Impact, holding onto the win after getting a late goal from Melvin Tarley.
The results in the past week shook up this weeks Power Rankings, with Austin holding on to the top spot. This despite failing to score in a 0-0 draw against the Portland Timbers at House Park.
Here's a look at this week's USSF Division 2 Power Rankings:
SBI USSF DIVISION 2 POWER RANKINGS (Week 9)
1. Austin Aztex (7-1-3)
Last Match– Tied 0-0 vs. Portland Timbers on Wednesday
Next Match– vs. Vancouver on Saturday, June 12.
Outlook: Wednesday night's result marked the very first time Austin hadn't scored a goal this season, and the impressive scoring record is the main reason for the Aztex excellent start to the 2010 season. With the hot summer Austin approaching, the club must adapt to the heat and use it to their advantage in the coming weeks.
Last Match– Lost 1-0 at Vancouver Whitecaps on Sunday, June 6.
Next Match– vs. Montreal on Saturday, June 12.
Outlook: The three game winning-streak came to an end against the defensively stout Vancouver Whitecaps, but there's still plenty of reason to be optimistic in Tampa Bay. Aaron King and Aaron Wheeler are chipping goals on a consistent basis, and there's every reason to believe the Rowdies will be the best of the expansion clubs this year.
3. Vancouver Whitecaps (4-2-4)
Last Match– Tied 1-1 vs. Carolina Railhawks on Wednesday.
Next Match– at Austin on Saturday, June 12.
Outlook: Even with the well-documented scoring problems, the Whitecaps are in fine shape in the standings with 16 points. Still, no one on the roster has scored more than one goal, and Vancouver hasn't scored more than one goal in a game this season.
4. Rochester Rhinos (4-3-3)
Last Match– Tied 0-0 vs. NSC Minnesota Stars on Friday.
Next Match– vs. Crystal Palace Baltimore on Saturday, June 12.
Outlook: Rochester's solid but not spectacular season continued in its typical form with a 0-0 draw against Minnesota — a team the Rhinos beat 3-0 back in April. Three out of four games in June should have the club in good shape going forward.
5. Carolina Railhawks (3-2-4)
Last Match– Tied 1-1 at Vancouver Whitecaps on Wednesday.
Next Match– vs. Crystal Palace Baltimore on Saturday, June 19.
Outlook: A northwest swing in the past week yielded two points — definitely a good stretch for the Railhawks. Top scorer Etienne Barbara has been a good addition, but needs some scoring help to pick Carolina up to the next level.
6. Montreal Impact (3-3-3)
Last Match– Lost 1-0 at NSC Minnesota on Wednesday.
Next Match– at Tampa Bay Rowdies on Saturday, June 12.
Outlook: A poor goal-scoring record continues to hound the Impact, and the similarities to the Whitecaps ab
ound. Six goals in nine games, with eight conceded overall are not good numbers. That being said, Montreal still sits in third in the NASL Conference thanks to a solid defense.
7. Portland Timbers (3-3-4)
Last Match– Tied 0-0 at Austin Aztex on Wednesday.
Next Match– at Miami FC on Saturday, June 12.
Outlook: Portland could only muster a point against Austin — not the worst result — but last week's late goal is a bigger worry. Two points in two games means that a new month hasn't brought a chance in the Timbers' fortunes.
8. Crystal Palace Baltimore (3-5-2)
Last Match– Tied 3-3 at Miami FC on Wednesday.
Next Match– at Rochester Rhinos on Saturday, June 12.
Outlook: It was a disappointing turn of events last night for Baltimore during the game against Miami. With a 3-1 lead, Baltimore looked set to run away winners, only to concede twice in the last seven minutes to drop two points. While it stings a little, the club continues to adjust well to the new surroundings.
9. Puerto Rico Islanders (3-4)
Last Match– Lost 2-1 at Austin Aztex on Saturday, June 5.
Next Match– vs. A.C. St. Louis on Saturday, June 12.
Outlook: Puerto Rico remains in last place in the USL Conference, with only A.C. St. Louis posting a worse point total. The Islanders have played at least two less matches than everyone else in the league, and
10. NSC Minnesota Stars (4-7-1)
Last Match– Won 1-0 vs. Montreal Impact on Wednesday.
Next Match– at Portland Timbers on Thursday, June 17.
Outlook: The Stars keep hanging around and getting results. A 1-0 win against a good Montreal side is good for the club's morale — particularly that Melvin Tarley finally grabbed his first goal of the season.
11. Miami FC (1-2-7)
Last Match– Tied 3-3 vs. Crystal Palace Baltimore on Wednesday.
Next Match– vs. Portland Timbers on Saturday, June 12.
Outlook: Miami is back to doing what they seems to do best — tying games. The comeback is admirable, but at some point the wins have to start. Christian Gomez has continued scoring, an indication things might get better.
12. A.C. St. Louis (1-7-1)
Last Match– Lost 3-2 at NSC Minnesota on Saturday, May 29.
Next Match– at Puerto Rico on Saturday, June 12.
Outlook: A lot has changed for A.C. St. Louis as the club tries to cling to life in 2010. Steve Ralston has been unloaded already, and some of the other out-of-town players could follow Ralston out the door. It doesn't look good for St. Louis, either on or off the pitch, as they travel to Puerto Rico this weekend.