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Gameday Report: March 30, Week 4

By NICHOLAS MURRAY - nicholas.murray@uslsoccer.com, 03/30/19, 11:45PM EDT

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Austin, El Paso claim first victories; Indy welcomes more than 20,000 to home opener win

Austin Bold FC and El Paso Locomotive FC earned their first victories in front of big crowds in Texas, while a club-record crowd of more than 20,000 fans saw Indy Eleven win its first home opener in club history

Elsewhere, Las Vegas claimed the first victory of the Eric Wynalda era, a 16-year-old played a key role in Colorado Springs earning a point in Phoenix, and OKC Energy FC pulled off a remarkable comeback in Reno.

Select a match below...

 

Las Vegas Lights FC (1), Real Monarchs SLC (0)

LAS VEGAS – Lights FC (1-2-1, 4pts) claimed its first victory under Head Coach Eric Wynalda as it defeated the Monarchs (1-1-2, 5pts) at Cashman Field. The Monarchs had the first good chance on a dipping shot by Jack Blake that was parried wise by Lights FC goalkeeper Thomas Olsen. Las Vegas’ Alex Harlley then found the net in the 39th minute, only for the goal to be ruled out, but four minutes into the second half he wouldn’t be denied as his flicked near-post header on Cristhian Hernandez’s corner kick from the right picked out the net. Lights FC had a pair of chances that fell to Irvin Parra to add to its lead, but the Monarchs were unable to find a way past Olsen in the Las Vegas goal as Lights FC took its first victory of the new campaign.

USLChampionship.com Man of the Match

Alex Harlley, Las Vegas Lights FC – Harlley scored what proved to be the winner, and also logged three key passes and won 7 of 11 duels to help his side notch its first win of the season.

 

Phoenix Rising FC (2), Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC (2)

PHOENIX – A stoppage-time equalizer by Ish Jome for Switchbacks FC (2-1-1, 7pts) allowed an 11-save performance by 16-year-old Abraham Rodriguez to earn his side a point against Rising FC (0-0-3, 3pts) at Casino Arizona Field. Rodriguez made some key saves early to keep out Solomon Asante and Jon Bakero before the Switchbacks took the lead through Jordan Burt’s tap-in after a deflected shot set up perfectly in the Phoenix penalty area. Rising FC hit back just before halftime as a perfectly-placed header by Joe Farrell found the top-right corner, and then continued to apply pressure throughout the second half as Adam Jahn hit the crossbar in the 58th minute. A foul on Jahn gave Phoenix the chance to take the lead from the penalty spot with 11 minutes to go, but Asante’s shot to the left corner was saved by Rodriguez, but the Ghanaian playmaker made up for his miss six minutes later with a perfect cross that allowed Jahn’s diving header to give Rising FC its first lead of the season. The hosts were unable to hold on for all three points, however, as Jome’s goal in the 92nd minute off a free kick that found the top-left corner allowed Rodriguez’s remarkable debut to not go to waste.

USLChampionship.com Man of the Match

Abraham Rodriguez, Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC – The 16-year-old recorded 11 saves in his professional debut, including a penalty save from Solomon Asante, to keep Colorado Springs in the game.

 

LA Galaxy II (3), Portland Timbers 2 (2)

CARSON, Calif. – The Galaxy II (2-2-0, 6pts) got a late goal by Tomas Hilliard-Arce to hand T2 (2-1-1, 7pts) its first loss of the season in a topsy-turvy clash at Dignity Health Sports Park. Portland took the first lead of the game in the 12th minute when Giovanni Calixtro fired a low finish into the right corner from just inside the penalty area. Los Dos hit back with two goals in five minutes to take the lead into the break, the first coming from Geoffrey Acheampong with a cushioned header in the 34th minute before Hilliard-Arce notched his first goal of the night with a powerful header off a corner. Calixtro struck again for T2 as he seized on a flicked pass by Eryk Williamson in the 65th minute to level the game up, but in the 90th minute Hilliard-Arce again powered home a header off a free kick by Emil Cuello to hand the hosts the victory in dramatic fashion.

USLChampionship.com Man of the Match

Tomas Hilliard-Arce, LA Galaxy II – The center back proved a big attacking weapon for the hosts as he scored twice, including the late game-winner to give Los Dos their second win of 2019.

 

El Paso Locomotive FC (2), Orange County SC (0)

EL PASO, Texas – Edson Partida scored both goals as Locomotive FC (1-1-2, 5pts) claimed its first victory in club history by defeating Orange County SC (0-2-2, 2pts) at Southwest University Park. The hosts threatened early when Omar Salgado’s pass sprang Derek Gebhard, only for OCSC goalkeeper Patrick McLain to make the one-on-one save. Salgado himself went close on the half-hour mark with a rising drive that McLain parried away, while three minutes later Orange County’s Darwin Jones hit the inside of the right post as the game went to the break scoreless. The breakthrough for El Paso came just past the hour-mark as Salgado’s shot was parried by McLain but dropped perfectly for Partida to clean up the rebound. The loanee from Liga MX’s Toluca then sealed the victory with two minutes remaining as he rifled home a counterattack chance to secure all three points for the hosts.

USLChampionship.com Man of the Match

Edson Partida, El Paso Locomotive FC – Partida was in the right place at the right time to bag both goals for Locomotive FC and send the side to its first victory in club history.

 

Reno 1868 FC (3), OKC Energy FC (3)

RENO, Nev. – Two goals in stoppage time brought Energy FC (2-1-1, 7pts) back from the dead in a thrilling contest against 1868 FC (1-0-3, 6pts) at Greater Nevada Field. Lindo Mfeka almost put the hosts ahead in just the third minute as he forced a good save by OKC’s Cody Laurendi, but there was little the visiting goalkeeper could do just before the half-hour mark as Brian Brown notched his fourth goal of the season after a surging run and low shot to the left corner. Reno added to its lead six minutes into the second half as Seth Casiple picked out the bottom-right corner with a finish from 20 yards, and five minutes later Sam Gleadle lifted home a third after being played into space by Corey Hertzog. Energy FC pulled a goal back when Alexy Bosetti slotted home into the right corner with 18 minutes remaining, but the game still seemed out of reach until the second minute of stoppage time when Christian Eissele squeezed home a finish off Omar Gordon’s slipped pass in the penalty area. Gordon then notched the equalizer two minutes later off Bosetti’s chested-pass as he tucked home a finish to complete the comeback and a remarkable point for the visitors.

USLChampionship.com Man of the Match

Omar Gordon, OKC Energy FC – Gordon first set up Christian Eissele’s first goal in stoppage time before notching the second himself to grab a point for OKC that seemed beyond the visitors with 20 minutes remaining.

 

Austin Bold FC (1), San Antonio FC (0)

AUSTIN, Texas – Kleber scored his second goal of the season as Austin Bold FC (1-1-1, 4pts) took its first victory in club history as it kept SAFC (0-3-1, 1pt) winless on the season before a sellout crowd at Bold Stadium. The hosts had the first good chance of the game in the 12th minute when Xavier Baez just slid a shot wide of the left post after SAFC goalkeeper Jonathan Viscosi had mishandled a cross. San Antonio’s Jack Barmby forced a low save from Austin goalkeeper Diego Restrepo eight minutes later, but neither side was able to produce many clear chances before halftime. SAFC’s Josh Yaro tried his luck after a half-cleared free kick on the hour-mark only to pull his finish wide of the left post, while Bold FC’s Valerii Saramutin fired high and wide for the hosts with 18 minutes to go. Five minutes later, however, the hosts struck as a knock-down header from a corner by Sean McFarlane found Kleber alone at the back post for a simple finish. San Antonio’s Ever Guzman was gifted a big chance to equalize as the game went into stoppage time on a poor defensive pass, but his shot flashed just over the crossbar, and SAFC's late pressure couldn't find a way past Restrepo as the goalkeeper earned a shutout against his former club.

USLChampionship.com Man of the Match

Xavier Baez, Austin Bold FC – The midfielder put in a solid two-way shift for the hosts, recording four tackles, three key passes and completing 38 of 43 passes overall.

 

Tampa Bay Rowdies (0), Loudoun United FC (0)

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. – The Rowdies (2-0-2, 8pts) were held to a scoreless draw by Loudoun United FC (0-1-2, 2pts) as both sides sputtered offensively at Al Lang Stadium. The first big chance fell to the Rowdies in the 37th minute when a low cross from the left by Leo Fernandes was redirected onto the right post by Sebastian Guenzatti as he slid in at the top of the six-yard area. Tampa Bay’s Andrew Tinari also went close just before halftime with a shot that flashed just high, but it wasn’t until late in the second half that the Rowdies threatened to grab all three points. The biggest chance fell to Leon Taylor in stoppage time, but the Tampa Bay forward was unable to control his finish off Shawn Barry’s cross to leave each side to share the points.

USLChampionship.com Man of the Match

Pape Diakite, Tampa Bay Rowdies – The Rowdies’ center back put in another big display, winning 12 of 13 combined duels and posting six clearances. 

 

Bethlehem Steel FC (2), Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC (2)

CHESTER, Pa. – Both sides held the lead in the first half as honors ended even between Steel FC (1-2-1, 4pts) and the Hounds (0-1-2, 2pts) in their first meeting since last year’s USL Cup Playoffs. The Hounds quickly took the lead in the fourth minute when Kevin Kerr slid in at the back post to tuck away a low cross by Ryan James from the left, but Bethlehem responded in the 21st minute when Faris headed home powerfully from the top of the six-yard area off a cross by Issa Rayyan from the right. Steel FC then took the lead 10 minutes before halftime when Michee Ngalina unleashed a great finish from 25 yards into the top-right corner. Kerr had the chance to restore parity just before halftime from the penalty spot, only for Carlos Miguel Coronel to make his second penalty-kick save of the season to keep the hosts on top, but the Hounds evened the game on the hour-mark as Joe Greenspan rose above the crowd to head home off a corner kick. Bethlehem twice almost regained the lead as James Chambers had a shot deflected just over in the 74th minute and Faris was denied by a fine save by Hounds goalkeeper Kyle Morton, but a late winner didn’t materialize as the Keystone state rivals ended all square.

USLChampionship.com Man of the Match

Michee Ngalina, Bethlehem Steel FC – Ngalina recorded a tremendous finish, and almost set up Faris for a late game-winner with a clever through-ball in a solid attacking display.

 

Indy Eleven (1), Hartford Athletic (0)

INDIANAPOLIS – A club-record crowd of 20,251 saw Indy Eleven (2-1-0, 6pts) take all three points against Hartford Athletic (0-4-0, 0pts) at Lucas Oil Stadium. Indy went close in the 16th minute when Dane Kelly broke in behind the Hartford defense by was denied by a good save from Athletic goalkeeper Jacob Lissek. The hosts took the lead on a piece of misfortune for Hartford defender Nikolaj Lyngø, who attempted to chest a cross by the Eleven’s Ayoze Garcia back to Lissek but instead found his own net. Hartford’s best chance to level came seven minutes into the second half when Mads Jorgensen shot just over the crossbar from the left side of the penalty area, but overall Indy looked more likely to add to its lead and was only denied late by the right post as Kelly fired a low shot off the upright. The lack of an insurance goal didn’t matter, though, as the Eleven rewarded their club-record crowd with the first home-opener victory in club history.

USLChampionship.com Man of the Match

Ayoze, Indy Eleven – The 2018 All-League selection was in stellar form again, recording four key passes and completing 41 of 47 passes to provide the Eleven’s attack with sustained impetus.

 

North Carolina FC (1), Charleston Battery (1)

CARY, N.C. – North Carolina FC’s Tommy McCabe struck deep in stoppage time to keep NCFC’s undefeated start alive in a draw with Southern Derby rivals the Charleston Battery. McCabe fired home on the volley from 20 yards into the left corner of the net after a half-cleared free kick in the third minute of stoppage time to grab NCFC (2-0-1, 7pts) a point. The Battery (1-0-2, 5pts) almost took the lead in the 27th minute when a loose turnover by the hosts gave Zeiko Lewis a clear look on goal, but his finish came back off the left post. North Carolina also went close before the halftime break when Donovan Ewolo’s flicked header went just wide of the left post, but in the 69th minute Charleston went ahead as Ian Svantesson slotted home a low finish from the right side of the penalty area after a through-ball by Lewis. North Carolina didn’t threaten to equalize until stoppage time when Manny Perez’s header went just over the bar, but with almost the final kick of the game McCabe’s sensational strike left honors even.

USLChampionship.com Man of the Match

Tommy McCabe, North Carolina FC – McCabe’s glorious strike ensured NCFC claimed a point and avoided its first defeat of the season in a hard-fought contest.

 

Saint Louis FC (1), Charlotte Independence (0)

FENTON, Mo. – STLFC (3-0-1, 10pts) matched its best start to a season in club history to reach 10 points from four games as Kyle Greig’s 48th goal in the USL Championship’s regular season edged the hosts past the Independence (0-2-1, 1pt). Saint Louis struck just five minutes in when Greig’s cushioned header off Bradley Kamdem Fewo’s cross from the left found the right corner of the net. Charlotte almost hit back two minutes later on a free kick by Enzo Martinez that STLFC goalkeeper Jake Fenlason had to tip over the crossbar, and Martinez threatened again on the hour-mark with a curling effort from 25 yards after a corner kick broke down. Saint Louis almost added a second with 15 minutes to go when Joaquin Rivas’ shot from the top of the penalty area hit the crossbar while Russell Cicerone was denied from close range by Charlotte goalkeeper Brandon Miller late, but while the Independence saved their best play for the final 20 minutes they were unable to find a breakthrough as the hosts won for the third time in their first four outings.

USLChampionship.com Man of the Match

Lewis Hilton, Saint Louis FC – Hilton dictated play in the middle of the field, winning 11 tackles and 14 of 17 duels to help the hosts eke out the victory.

 

Louisville City FC (P), Birmingham Legion FC (P)

LOUISVILLE, Ky. – Louisville City FC’s contest with Birmingham Legion FC was postponed to Sunday morning at 10 a.m. ET after heavy rains that swept through the Louisville area made the field unplayable on Saturday night.

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