Even with two top teams meeting in the Eastern Conference, it was two teams from the bottom of the table providing the most intense action this weekend.
LA Galaxy II earned their fourth win in a back and forth affair over the Portland Timbers FC 2. The come from behind victory was just what the doctor ordered for a team that was humiliated midweek in historic fashion thanks to a 9-0 loss to Reno 1868.
Elsewhere, Louisville City pulled out a draw against the Eastern Conference-leading Charleston Battery, Didier Drogba rescued a point for Phoenix Rising, and the Charlotte Independence extended their club record win streak in dominant fashion.
Let’s take a look at the rest of this weekend’s action:
Rochester Rhinos 1-0 Harrisburg City Islanders
The Rochester Rhinos victory over the Harrisburg City Islanders was perhaps a bit more lopsided than the score line would indicate. The Rhinos controlled the match and created a number of opportunities, but could not find the back of the net until the 85th minute. Jochen Graf, a second half sub, scored the winner. Graf met a Joe Farrell cross at the back post and tapped the ball into the net. The City Islanders relied on 2015 USL Goalkeeper of the Year Brandon Miller to keep them in the match, but failed to create much danger in front of the Rhinos goal. The match was also the first leg of the Capelli Sport Hero Cup. The winner of the regular season series between the Rhinos and the City Islanders is awarded the Hero Cup.
Charleston Battery 1-1 Louisville City FC
The Charleston Battery drew for the second time in their last five matches against second place Louisville City, 1-1. The Battery opened the scoring on a penalty in the 23rd minute after Dante Marini was fouled in the box. Justin Portillo kept his shot low and to the left of Greg Ranjitsingh to give the home team the lead. The lead was short lived however, as Louisville City equalized just four minutes later. Sean Totsch fired a headed a corner off the crossbar, and Ilija Ilic fired home the rebound. The closely contested match didn’t have a winner, but gave fans a possible preview of a conference final between the two top teams in the east.
Toronto FC II 1-0 Ottawa Fury FC
After struggling for the opening half of the season, Toronto FC II won for the second time in their last four games with a 1-0 victory over the Ottawa Fury. The Fury threatened early, forcing saves from TFC goalkeeper Mark Pais a number of times in the first half. The team scored a goal in the 28th minute, but Steevan Dos Santos, the goal scorer, was ruled offside. After the break, the Fury picked up right where they left off, creating a number of good opportunities that went begging. TFC took advantage of their oppenents wastefulness and opened the scoring in the 73rd minute. Luca Uccello finished a counter attack, latching onto Brian James’ ball over the top, and chipping Callum Irving for the goal. For TFC, the recent run of form has them just seven points shy of a playoff spot. With lots of games to play, there is still hope for TFC.
Orange County SC 1-1 Phoenix Rising FC
Didier Drogba continues to score goals for Phoenix Rising, even if the results haven’t been particularly favorable since the striker’s arrival. This time out Phoenix played out a 1-1 draw with hosts Orange County SC on a stoppage time goal from the aforementioned Drogba. With the teams still scoreless in the 84th minute, OCSC’s Roy Meeus got the hosts on the board with a well-placed free kick. It looked like Phoenix would regret their inability to convert their chances from earlier in the match, but in the 94th minute of stoppage time, the Ivorian striker played hero to the visitors, scoring on a free kick. Drogba curled the ball over the wall and out of the reach of a diving Charlie Lyon.
Orlando City B 0-0 Pittsburgh Riverhounds
Two teams struggling to get into the top of the Eastern table walked away with a point each Saturday. Orlando City B and the Pittsburgh Riverhounds did little to inspire during the match, and a 0-0 result seems fair for each side. Earl Edwards Jr. and Keasel Broome did the most for their teams to keep the clean sheet for each side.
Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC 2-2 Vancouver Whitecaps FC 2
The Colorado Springs Switchbacks rallied from a two-goal deficit to draw Vancouver Whitecaps FC 2 Saturday night. A Marco Bustos penalty in the 38th minute, and a Thomas Sanner header in the 42nd minute had the visiting Whitecaps ahead at the break. The Switchbacks struck quickly after halftime with goals from Masta Kercher in the 48th minute and Kevaugh Frater ten minutes later. The Switchbacks hold onto sixth place in the Western Conference with the draw.
Charlotte Independence 5-1 Saint Louis FC
The Charlotte Independence are within striking distance of second place in the Eastern Conference thanks to a club record five match win streak, and a 5-1 win over Saint Louis FC. Jorge Herrera provided a big injection of offensive output, scoring a hat trick and assisting on the final goal in the lopsided victory. Enzo Martinez also had a strong game for the home side, finishing with a goal and an assist. Bilal Duckett also scored for the home side. The lone goal of the match for Saint Louis came in the 57th minute from Ocatavio Guzman. With the Independence already leading 3-0 at that point in the match, the goal was little more than consolation for the visitors.
OKC Energy FC 1-2 Tulsa Roughnecks FC
The visiting Tulsa Roughnecks second half surge helped defeat the OKC Energy 2-1. Daniel Gonzalez struck first for OKC in the 39th minute after a miscommunication between the goalkeeper and defense left Tulsa’s goal open. Gonzalez chipped the keeper and the ball rolled into the empty net. The Roughnecks nearly equalized just before the half, but Cody Laurendi’s point blank stop on a back post header kept OKC in front. Juan Pablo Caffa eventually did level the score for the Roughnecks from the penalty spot in the 50th minute. Joey Calistri curled a low shot past Laurendi to the far post to push the Roughnecks in front in the 66th minute. Calistri had an opportunity to double the lead in the 89th minute, but a bad touch on the breakaway was easily cleared by Laurendi. The Roughnecks move into eighth place with the victory.
Swope Park Rangers 4-0 Rio Grande Valley FC
Swope Park Rangers hammered Rio Grande Valley, 4-0, for their fourth consecutive victory. The Rangers midfielder Lebo Moloto contributed a goal and two assists to see out the victory. Moloto opened the scoring in the 39th minute, rounding the goalkeeper and finishing. Mark Anthony Gonzalez doubled the lead for the Rangers just before halftime. Moloto found Gonzalez running into the box. Gonzalez touched the ball around the keeper and finished from a tight angle. Colton Storm and Cameron Iwasa also contributed goals for the Rangers, as they sit in third place in the western conference with the victory.
Real Monarchs SLC 4-1 Seattle Sounders FC 2
Real Monarchs continue to dominate the Western Conference, this time defeating Seattle Sounders FC 2, 4-1, at home. The Monarchs jumped out to a 3-0 lead before halftime with goals from Sebastian Saucedo, Chandler Hoffman, and Max Lachowecki. Saucedo added a second goal in the 73rd minute to seal the victory. Both Saucedo and Hoffman had big nights for the Monarchs. Saucedo finised with a two goals, while Hoffman had a goal and two assists for the first place side. The Monarchs are now eight points clear of second place San Antonio FC with the victory.
Bethlehem Steel FC 2-0 New York Red Bulls II
The Bethlehem Steel continue to roll in the East, and scored a déjà vu 2-0 victory of the New York Red Bulls II. Adam Najem assisted the opening goal by Chris Nanco in the 17th minute. Najem continues to exact revenge against the side that traded his MLS rights to Philadelphia Union this offseason. Fabian Herbers doubled the lead for the hosts in the 31st minute, and that was all she wrote for the Red Bulls. Though Vincent Bezecourt and Derrick Etienne threatened for the visitors, the overall performance was a toothless one for the reigning champions. Now it is back to the drawing board again for John Wolyniec.
Portland Timbers 2 3-4 LA Galaxy II
LA Galaxy II rebounded from their midweek historic defeat to earn a road scalp while coming from behind against the Portland Timbers 2 4-3. Jeremy Ebobisse scored a goal and assisted Max Ornstil in the opening 35 minutes to put the home side up 2-0. LA came storming back with goals on either side of halftime from Tyler Turner and Adrian Vera. Very tied the match in the 47th minute, and then put the visitors ahead for good in the 50th minute, Justin Dhillon extended the lead 10 minutes later after beating the offside trap and slotting the ball low and past the goal keeper. Victor Arboleda pulled one back for the Timbers in the 82nd minute, but that was as close as they would get.
FC Cincinnati 2-0 Richmond Kickers
FC Cincinnati continues to draw big crowds and get good results at home. This time, a crowd of 21,769 witnessed the home side take a 2-0 victory over Richmond Kickers. It took just three minutes for Djiby Fall to find the back of the net. Kenny Walker found Djiby Fall in stride, and the striker finished first time, low into the right corner. The goal seemed to be good enough to see out the result, but Cincinnati added one more for good measure from the penalty spot in stoppage time. Braeden Troyer handled the ball inadvertently on a save from his goalkeeper. Aodhan Quinn easily slotted home the penalty. FC Cincinnati are now in sixth place in the east.