photo courtesy of USL Pro
By FRANCO PANIZO
The Wilmington Hammerheads took a giant step towards assuring themselves of being in the postseason this past weekend, and they did so by grabbing a pair of results against a team that was expected to beat them.
The Hammerheads went 1-0-1 in their two games in two days against the Charleston Battery, first grabbing a late 2-2 draw on the road on Friday before picking up a 2-1 win at home on Saturday. The results helped the fourth-place Hammerheads get some breathing space in the league standings and both were made possible thanks to the contributions of on-loan New York Red Bulls forward Corey Hertzog.
In Friday's game in Charleston, the Battery led 2-1 after Wilmington had initially taken the lead. But Hertzog delivered an assist to Steven Perry eight minutes from the final whistle to help the Hammerheads avoid defeat.
Hertzog was again at the center of the action a day later, assisting on the equalizer before netting the winner in Wilmington's triumph against the third-place Battery. Hertzog's throw-in in the first half marked his second assist in two days, and he followed that up by finding the back of the net just before halftime to give Wilmington its latest victory at home.
Here's a look back at all the Week 18 action in USL Pro:
ORLANDO CITY 1, ROCHESTER RHINOS 0
If the Rhinos thought Orlando City were not going to take their game seriously because they had already claimed the regular season title, the Rhinos were dead wrong. League winners Orlando City closed out the road portion of their regular season with a 1-0 win over Rochester on Friday. Jamie Watson was the author of the winning goal, which came in the 65th minute.
RICHMOND KICKERS 2, ANTIGUA BARRACUDA FC 0
The Kickers took care of business on Friday night, but they waited until almost the last minute to do so. The Kickers defeated cellar-dwellers Antigua Barracuda, 2-0, after scoring twice in the final six minutes of the match. Gerson Dos Santos was the player who donned the hero's cape, scoring the winner in the 84th minute before assisting on Matthew Delicate's insurance goal in stoppage time.
CHARLOTTE EAGLES 4, ANTIGUA BARRACUDA FC 0
The misery just will not stop for Antigua Barracuda. Playing in their second game in two days, Antigua suffered a 4-0 mauling at the hands of the Eagles on Saturday. Four players found the back of the net for Charlotte, with three goals coming inside the first 27 minutes of the lopsided match.
USL PRO STANDINGS
1. Orlando City SC (17-1-5, 56 points, +32 GD)
2. Rochester Rhinos (11-6-5, 38 points, +7 GD)
3. Charleston Battery (11-9-1, 34 points, +9 GD)
4. Wilmington Hammerheads (9-6-7, 34 points, +2 GD)
5. Richmond Kickers (9-7-5, 32 points, +3 GD)
6. Harrisburg City Islanders (8-6-6, 30 points, +2 GD)
7. Charlotte Eagles (9-9-2, 29 points, +5 GD)
8. Los Angeles Blues (8-10-2, 26 points, -2 GD)
9. Dayton Dutch Lions (4-10-7, 19 points, -9 GD)
10. Pittsburgh Riverhounds (4-13-5, 17 points, -15 GD)
11. Antigua Barracuda FC (3-16-1, 10 points, -34 GD)
What do you think of these results? Think the Hammerheads will reach and make a run in the postseason? Impressed by Hertzog's clutch performances this weekend? Shocked by how bad Antigua Barracuda FC has been this year?
Share your thoughts below.
Dayton, Pittsburgh, and Antigua are all eliminated. Orlando has locked up home field advantage. The other seven teams are all fighting for 5 playoff spots. Any of the seven can make it and any of them can get knocked out.
Just two weeks left and the playoff picture will go down to the wire.