USL Playoff Rewind: Orange County cruises, FC Cincinnati advances in penalties, and more

USL Playoff Rewind: Orange County cruises, FC Cincinnati advances in penalties, and more

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USL Playoff Rewind: Orange County cruises, FC Cincinnati advances in penalties, and more

The first round of the 2018 USL Playoffs is in the books, with 16 teams turning to eight over the weekend.

FC Cincinnati and Bethlehem Steel FC stayed alive through penalty shootouts, while Orange County, Phoenix Rising, and Louisville City cruised to the quarterfinals.

Heres a closer look at all the USL Round of 16 matches that went down this weekend.

Orange County SC 4-0 Saint Louis FC

Business as usual for the Western Conference regular-season champions in a dominating performance over Saint Louis.

OC got down to business early as a misplaced pass from Sean Reynolds was pounced on by Thomas Enevoldsen who was able to play in the on-rushing Michael Seaton. The forward slid it home for the lead just 11 minutes into the game.

Ten minutes later Tony Walls from Saint Louis FC was shown a straight red for violent conduct from an altercation with Seaton. With a man, and a goal up, Orange County would dominate the remainder of the game. Seaton went on to bag a hat trick as Mats Bjurman scored the fourth to truly end off the game.

Real Monarchs SLC 0-1 Reno 1868 FC

A nailbiter in Utah as two very evenly matched sides battled out a close game. Both sides had a wealth of opportunities throughout the 90 minutes without sending anything home.

But Reno only needed one chance and it took them to the bitter end of the match. With around 20 seconds to go in added time, Duke Lacroix whipped in a cross to the center of the box and found Brian Brown.

The Jamaican striker struck a perfect header to beat Connor Sparrow and the Monarchs.

Phoenix Rising FC 3-0 Portland Timbers 2

Didier Drogba’s men did what they have done all season, score great goals and shut out the opponents. The Ivorian striker got the kickstart the team needed scoring a world-class free kick from 30-yards out to mark his fifth goal in nine appearances this season.

Phoenix continued to defend well and doubled their lead in the 62nd minute through Jason Johnson off a long ball from Chris Cortez. Johnson latched onto the pass and with some great footwork fooled the defender and keeper to slide one at the near post.

Solomon Asante finished off Portland in the 90th minute after picking up a deflected ball in the box and playing it off the post for the 3-0 lead.

Sacramento Republic FC 1-2 Swope Park Rangers

All the match-deciding action happened in the first half for this closely contested matchup.

Sacramento looked to be off to a great start by scoring in the 16th minute off a poorly cleared ball from SPR but their lead wouldn’t last long. The twenty-year-old midfielder, Wan Kuzain, used his quick feet to work the ball into the box and sliced a left-footed shot just past the keeper at the near post.

Just four minutes later SPR would gain the lead through Hadji Barry’s 18th goal of the season. The Guinean striker received the ball at the top of the box and blasted his shot past Josh Cohen for the match winner.

FC Cincinnati 1-1 (6-5 SO) Nashville SC

FC Cincinnati went on to win in penalties after Justin Davis missed the sixth shot for Nashville and Kenney Walker finished his penalty into the bottom right.

In the fifth match of 2018, neither team could find a winner in regulation nor could they find one in extra time. The two sides played out an even draw through 120 minutes with the only goals coming in extra time.

Five minutes into extra time Corbon Bone found himself in space at the top of the box and was able to take a shot past Matt Pickens to give FCC the first lead of the game. With five minutes left in extra time, Nashville found its equalizer through Bradley Bourgeois. His heavily-deflected shot had just enough arch on it to beat Spencer Richey.

Charleston Battery 0-1 New York Red Bulls II

Not much to separate the four and five seeds on the Eastern side except the lone goal of this match.

Tom Barlow, who scored a hat-trick after coming off the bench against Charleston earlier this season, was the man to give NYRB II their winner. In the 21st minute, Barlow received a long ball on the left wing to cut inside and strike a curling effort into the top right corner.

Pittsburgh Riverhounds 2-2 (7-8 SO) Bethlehem Steel FC

Another penalty shootout matchup on the Eastern side with both sides getting goals in regulation and in extra time.

Bethlehem Steel won the penalty shootout through eight rounds after Raymond Lee took his chance wide left.

Pittsburgh kicked off the night in the opening half hour through a headed goal from Ben Zemanski and would hold that lead until the 70th minute. Bethlehem steel strung together a good looking attack that was capped off by an easy tap-in from Michee Ngalina to send the match to extra time.

Right at the end of the first period of extra time, Pittsburgh took their lead back through some sloppy defending from Bethlehem where Hugh Roberts was allowed to head home the goal from close range. In the 109th minute, Bethlehem got their second equalizer of the game through a perfect free kick from James Chambers.

Louisville City 4-1 Indy Eleven

Louisville City looked absolutely dominant in the hunt to defend its title and tore apart Indy Eleven.

Louisville looked to control from the start but it took a set piece routine from Niall McCabe to find the back of the net for the first time in the 30th minute. Ilija Ilic scored a tap-in after Indy failed to clear a loose ball to double Louisville’s lead before the half.

Another set-piece routine just after returning from the half found McCabe again for his second goal of the match that he struck perfectly from just outside the box. Soony Saad came off the bench to give Indy a bit of hope with a goal of his own in the 67th minute. But Cameron Lancaster continued his remarkable season with a perfect free kick into the top right corner.

USL Playoff Quarterfinals

Eastern Conference

Saturday

FC Cincinnati vs. New York Red Bulls II, 4:00 p.m. ET, Nippert Stadium

Louisville City vs. Bethlehem Steel, 7:30 p.m. ET, Slugger Field

Western Conference

Friday

Phoenix Rising FC vs. Swope Park Rangers, 10:30 p.m. ET, Rising FC Soccer Complex

Saturday

Orange County SC vs. Reno 1868 FC, 10:00 p.m. ET, Champions Soccer Stadium

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