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USL Week 17 Rewind: FC Cincinnati makes road statement, Independence roll, and more

FC Cincinnati made a big statement on the road against Louisville City, earning a hard fought victory away from home in their attempt to climb the Eastern Conference table.

FC Cincinnati had won only a single road match this season, and with the playoffs fast approaching, earning results away from home will be critical for any team that doesn’t finish in the top two spots. Cincinnati stepped up to the challenge, defeating a very strong Louisville team that had only lost once in their last eight games.

Let’s take a look at the rest of this weekend’s action:

San Antonio FC 1-1 OKC Energy FC

OKC Energy scored late to salvage a valuable road point against San Antonio FC Friday night.

The home side got things going in the 52nd when Billy Forbes beat Energy goalkeeper Cody Laurendi to a ball in the box. Forbes lifted it past the onrushing keeper and into the back of the net. The Energy had a good opportunity to get back into the match in the 82nd minute when they were awarded a penalty. Coady Andrews shot rang off the crossbar to the relief of SAFC fans. Miguel Gonzalez would score the equalizer for the visitors after a flurry of chances from the Energy were denied. First, Luis Martinez had a header parried, SAFC defender Cyprian Hendrick attempted to clearance went off the crossbar, and finally Gonzalez volley found the back of the net.

While the result is not what either team may have hoped for, it is fair. For the Energy, earning a road result against a quality opponent, in front of a big crowd, is surely a point worthy of celebration.

Ottawa Fury FC 1-1 Rochester Rhinos

In another game that left it late, Tucker Hume equalized for the Ottawa Fury to salvage a draw against the visiting Rochester Rhinos.

After missing several chances early in the match, Hume got his head to a long throw in from Carl Haworth that beat Tomas Gomez. The visiting side led the match for nearly 75 minutes, after Jochen Graf beat the backline and played the ball over Callum Irving. Graf walked the ball into the open net in the 15th minute. The Rhinos tried to park the bus for the remainder of the match, but failed to keep Ottawa at bay.

The two points lost for the Rhinos will hurt. They had a very good opportunity to move into fifth place after other results had been favorable this weekend.

New York Red Bulls II 2-3 Charlotte Independence

 New York Red Bulls II could not overcome the early deficit despite a late charge.

Scoring two goals in the final 10 minutes, the Red Bulls threatened to steal three points from the Charlotte Independence, but fell short of the equalizer. New York controlled much of the play in the first half, but failed to finish their chances. Jorge Herrera scored the opener for the Independence on a free kick in the 21st minute. Just before the half, Hassan Ndam doubled the lead for the Independence on an own goal, sliding a cross in the net past Evan Louro. Just after the break, Enzo Martinez would score the winner on a well-played counter attack. Jorge Herrera cut the ball back to Martinez in the box, and the Independence man easily finished. With all hope seemingly lost, the Red Bulls still pushed the attack looking to find the game. David Najem scored his first goal for the Red Bulls on a curling effort in the 82nd minute. Three minutes later, Junior Flemmings got his head to a Vincent Bezecourt a corner kick. The keeper stopped the ball, but the linesman ruled it had crossed the line.

The Independence have now lost just once in their last eleven games and sit in second place.

Bethlehem Steel FC 1-1 Pittsburgh Riverhounds

Bethlehem Steel remain undefeated in their last five games with a draw against the Pittsburgh Riverhounds.

Chevaughn Walsh opened the scoring in the 24th minute for the Rivhounds. Walsh finished Shannon Gomez’s low cross from the right wing to the right corner of the net. Just three minutes later, BST earned a penalty after a foul on James Chambers. Chambers took the penalty kick and scored low to the left.

The score would stand for the remainder of the game with tepid action.

Vancouver Whitecaps FC 2 1-1 Reno 1868 FC

 Vancouver Whitecaps FC 2 also drew 1-1 this weekend against Reno 1868 FC.

The Whitecaps, fresh off their midweek defeat to Swope Park Rangers, carried some of their offensive momentum in the game against Reno. After struggling to finish chances in the match against Rangers, The Whitecaps finally found the back of the net in the 79th minute. Myer Bevan scored off of a Marco Bustos lay off in the box to earn the point for the home side. The Whitecaps had only been behind for six minutes at the time of the equalizer. Brian Brown was the recipient of a nice attacking run by Dane Kelly. The cross to Brown was easily tapped into the goal. The match was a physical affair in the first half, and much of the flow was disrupted throughout. As the match wore on, both teams settled down, content to play more soccer.

Reno now sit nine points shy of third place. The top three in the West have separated themselves entirely from the pack.

Harrisburg City Islanders 1-0 Richmond Kickers

The Harrisburg City Islanders got their second win in as many games and moved in the final playoff spot with a 1-0 win over the Richmond Kickers.

Ropapa Mensah scored the winner for the Islanders in the 76th minute. Mensah spun around his defender, cutting into the left side of the box, and fired low to the far post past Matt Turner. The Islanders are now 4-1-0 in their last five games and are continuing to pick up speed and momentum.

Louisville City FC 2-3 FC Cincinnati

FC Cincinnati earned a statement road win, forcing a stoppage time own goal to beat Louisville City, 3-2.

Louisville scored in the 8th minute from the penalty spot after Harrison Delbridge was ruled to have handled the ball in the box. Ilija Ilic beat Mitch Hildebrandt from the spot with a well-worked Panenka that fooled the keeper into diving early. Djiby Fall equalized for the visitors eight minutes later when he  cleaned up an mistake from Greg Ranjitsingh and finished into the open net. Harrison Delbridge redeemed his earlier handball with a goal in the 55th minute on a corner kick. Cincinnati extended the lead in the 77th minute. Danni Konig scored just after coming off the bench, hammering home a rebound on a shot from Josu. Louisville City earned a late consolation own goal from Andrew Weiderman after the ball deflected off of the forward on a corner kick.

Cincinnati move up into sixth place in the eastern conference with the victory and Louisville City drop back to third.

Saint Louis FC 1-0 Charleston Battery

Saint Louis FC earned a big home win over leaders, the Chareslton Battery.

Octavio Guzman grabbed the winner in the 72nd minute on a curling free kick. The win was the second for STL in their last 11 games. Octavio Guzman scored in the 50th minute as well, but an infraction in the wall impacted the play, and the goal was called back.

The Battery remain in first place with the loss, losing for only the second time since May 28th.

Phoenix Rising FC 2-1 Colorado Springs Switchbacks

Jason Johnson’s double capped off a come from behind victory for Phoenix Rising over Colorado Springs Switchbacks Saturday night.

The home team went down early, with Kevaughn Frater scoring from 20-yards out after controlling a long ball from Josh Phillips. Josh Cohen kept Pheonix in the game, making several big saves including one in the 53rd minute that looked destined for the top corner. Jason Johnson came on as a sub for Blair Gaven at the halftime interval, and breathed some much needed life into the Phoenix attack. Johnson opened his account in the 66th minute, taking advantage of a mistake by Moise Pouaty. The Switchbacks goalkeeper failed to hold onto a deflected cross under pressure from Johnson. The ball settled at Johnson’s feet, and he easily finished. Johnson scored the winner in the 84th minute on a corner kick from Didier Drogba. Johnson was alone in the box, and easily knocked his header into the net.

The home win broke a streak of four consecutive draws for Phoenix Rising, and they now sit in ninth place, tied on 22 points with Tulsa Roughnecks with a game in hand.

Portland Timbers FC 2 0-1 Swope Park Rangers

Swope Park Rangers earned their second critical road win of the week, sweeping Cascadia teams Timbers and Whitecaps aside, each by a score of 1-0.

Kharlton Balmar scored the winner in the sixth straight victory for the Rangers on a cross from Nansel Selbol. Belmar, a former Timbers player, punished his former team for the second time in as many games against the club. The Rangers now sit nine points clear in third place.

Seattle Sounders FC 2 1-2 Orange County SC

Orange County SC found a second consecutive victory over Seattle Sounders FC 2 on the road by a score of 2-1.

Wuilito Fernandes opened the scoring in the 16th minute on a pass from Gustavo Villalobos. Fernandes finished low to the far post. The Sounders pulled one back in the 30th minute on a long throw from Irvin Parra. David Olsen got his head to the throw and found the back of the net. Monday Etim took the lead back for Orange County just seven minutes later. Wulito Fernandes played provider, heading a cross back across goal that Etim finished into a mostly empty net.

With a congested schedule and a number of games in hand, Orange County will be pleased to pick up the victory on the road. They are three points back of eighth place and will continue to make up ground in a push for the playoffs.

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