By JOHN BOSCHINI
After holding a dominating lead going into its nearly three week break, Orlando City S.C. finds itself with a serious contender breathing down its neck.
The Wilmington Hammerheads won twice over the weekend in convincing fashion to put themselves within three points of the American Division Leaders. A 3-1 dismantling of FC New York was followed by a 2-1 win over the Harrisburg City Islanders. Orlando and Wilmington have three games left to play with Orlando boasting a better goal difference.
The Richmond Kickers are all but out of the American Division crown with a loss to Pittsburgh over the weekend.
Rochester earned some breathing room at the top of the National Division with a 2-2 draw with the Charlotte Eagles. The Islanders missed a golden opporrunity to reel in the Rhinos but now have only three games to make up a four-point deficit.
The Eagles are just three points off a playoff spot with a game in hand on the Charleston Battery. For an added bit of drama, Charleston and Charlotte meet on the final weekend of the season in a matchup that will likely round out the playoff picture.
Here is a look back at all the action in the USL Pro over the weekend:
Rochester Rhinos 2, Charlotte Eagles 2: A flurry of offense from Charlotte late in the second half erased Rochester's 2-0 lead and the Rhinos had to settle for a split of the points.
Kendall Jagdeosingh put Rochester ahead early with a strike in the 23rd minute for the only goal of the first 75 minutes. Fifteen minutes from time, substitute Andrew Hoxie looked to have assured Rochester's victory with a well-taken goal. However, two goals in three minutes courtesy of Chris Salvaggione and Jorge Herrera leveled the score.
Wilmington Hammerheads 3, FC New York 1: Luke Mulholland bagged a brace within 10 minutes to lead Wilmington to a straight-forward win over FC New York.
Andriy Budnny put Wilmington ahead just before the half-hour mark to give the Hammerheads the lead before halftime. Mulholland scored the first of his double seven minutes after the restart and Wilmington had a two-goal lead. Jhonny Artega got one back for New York, but Mulholland put Wilmington out of reach with a goal six minutes later.
Antigua Barracuda FC 2, Los Angeles Blues 1: Antigua conceded its lead in the first half but finally managed to put the Blues away after the break.
George Dublin put Antigua ahead in just the second minute before Chukwudi Chijindu equalized midway through the first half. Antigua's lead was secured with Ranja Christian's goal in the 66th minute.
Wilmington Hammerheads 2, Harrisburg City Islanders 1: Harrisburg had the lead early but couldn't hold out against Wilmington's offensive pressure.
Jose Angulo gave the Islanders the lead early but the Hammerheads had equalized by halftime. Chris Banks converted a penalty kick to secure Wilmington's victory.
Pittsburgh Riverhounds 2, Richmond Kickers 0: Shintaro Harada scored in the first half and Jeremey Deighton netted a goal in the second half to give Pittsburgh the surprising win. The victory moved Pittsburgh eight points clear of FC New York for the final playoff spot in the National Division.
Rochester Rhinos 1, Charleston Battery 0: Neal Kitson made six saves in a stellar shutout, and Andrew Cost scored against the run of play to give Rochester the surprise win.
Dayton Dutch Lions 2, FC New York 0: The Dayton Dutch Lions got their second win of the season with a 10-save shutout by Jesper Leerdam.
George Davis IV scored three minutes in and Lucien Seymor provided an insurance goal deep into the second half for the Lions.
Los Angeles Blues 2, Antigua Barracuda FC 1: Two goals within five minutes in the first half allowed Los Angeles to extract some revenge against Antigua.
Akeem Priestly and Peter Byers scored just before halftime to give Los Angeles the lead for good. Justin Cochrane scored in the 90th minute to get a goal back for Antigua but it turned out to be little more than an insurance goal.
What did you think of this weekend's games? Impressed with Wilmington? Can Pittsburgh hold on to a playoff spot?
Share your thoughts below.