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Gameday Report: July 17, Week 20

By USLChampionship.com Staff, 07/17/19, 11:09PM EDT

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San Antonio secures first road victory, NSC claims Tennessee bragging rights over 901 FC

Frank López scored twice on his club debut to help San Antonio FC earn its first road victory of the season with a 3-1 win over Copa Tejas rival El Paso Locomotive FC on Wednesday night at Southwest University Park. Elsewhere in the West, Reno 1868 FC rallied from two goals down in the second half to defeat OKC Energy FC 3-2 at Taft Stadium to move into second place in the conference standings.

In the East, Nashville SC claimed Tennessee Derby bragging rights by completing a season sweep of Memphis 901 FC with a 2-0 victory at AutoZone Park. Elsewhere, a must-see free kick from Danny Kristo helped North Carolina FC move level on points with third-place Indy Eleven in the Eastern Conference standings with a win over Loudoun United FC, while the Swope Park Rangers earned their second win in three tries after holding off a second-half rally from Hartford Athletic at Children’s Mercy Park.

el paso locomotive fc (1) v san antonio fc (3)

El PASO, Texas – San Antonio earned its first road win of the season against Copa Tejas rival Locomotive FC. The visitors got off to a flying start in the eighth minute as Cristian Parano’s initial shot from the right side of the box was stopped by Logan Ketterer but the Locomotive goalkeeper couldn’t hold onto the rebound, allowing Frank López to finish off the rebound from close range early in his club debut. El Paso thought it had found its equalizer 13 minutes later when Omar Salgado redirected Sebastián Contreras’ low effort past SAFC goalkeeper Matt Cardone, but the goal was waved off for offsides. Andrew Fox didn’t leave any doubt about his equalizing goal in the 28th minute, firing a left-footed volley from the center of the box past Cardone shortly after an attacking corner kick. San Antonio regained the lead in first-half stoppage time when Bradford Jamieson lofted a through ball behind the El Paso defense and López took it down and coolly finished past Ketterer for his second goal of the night. Jamieson went from provider to finisher seven minutes after halftime when he tapped home Billy Forbes’ cutback after the winger had shook a defender nearly out of his cleats on the left wing to create a passing lane. Locomotive FC looked for an immediate response and nearly found one in the 56th minute when Chapa Herrera’s inch-perfect cross from the right wing reached Derek Gebhard, but the forward’s header was expertly saved by a diving Cardone. His opposite number Ketterer kept Locomotive FC in the game with a one-on-one stop to deny Forbes shortly after the hour-mark and prevented López from finishing off his hat trick with a low save at his near post nine minutes later. Gebhard had one last decent chance for El Paso with 10 minutes remaining but headed wide of the target to sum up a disappointing night for the hosts.

USLChampionship.com Man of the Match

Frank López, San Antonio FC – López scored a pair of goals on four shots, completed 92 percent of his passes and made six recoveries in his club debut to lead San Antonio to its first road victory of the season.

okc energy fc (2) v reno 1868 fc (3)

OKLAHOMA CITY – Reno rallied from two goals down to stun Energy FC at Taft Stadium. The hosts got off to the perfect start as 1868 FC defender Zach Carroll headed a bouncing ball back towards his own goal but it fell right into the path of Energy FC’s Jonathan Brown, who made no mistake slotting a shot through the legs of Reno goalkeeper Matt Bersano after 65 seconds of play. The visitors responded by applying pressure after going behind and Seth Casiple forced a fantastic diving save out of Energy FC goalkeeper Cody Laurendi in the 12th minute before Daniel Musovski just missed the far corner with a left-footed effort five minutes later. Energy FC doubled its lead in the 23rd minute when Omar Gordon neatly took down Cordell Cato’s right-wing cross, created a yard of space and then found the bottom-left corner with a left-footed shot from 15 yards out. Laurendi came up with another great save to deny Musovski’s close-range header in the 35th minute and OKC scrambled to clear its lines. The hosts should have extended their lead to three in the 64th minute when Brown’s cross found Cato inside the six-yard box, but the midfielder skied his first-time effort with the goal gaping. That would prove costly two minutes later when 1868 FC midfielder Lindo Mfeka picked off a loose pass in the attacking third, dribbled around a defender and picked out the bottom-right corner with an off-balance left-footed shot from the center of the area. Reno continued its furious late rally in the 71st minute when Raul Mendiola played a lofted pass over the top of the OKC defense to Aidan Apodaca, who expertly lofted a first-time finish over an onrushing Laurendi to tie the game. 1868 FC completed the comeback with 13 minutes remaining as Apodaca laid off a pass for forward Corey Hertzog, who swept a curling effort into the bottom-right corner to give his side the lead. Bersano made Reno’s lead hold up from there, clawing away a stoppage-time shot from Gordon to seal the comeback win.

USLChampionship.com Man of the Match

Lindo Mfeka, Reno 1868 FC – Mfeka scored a sweet solo goal, made three key passes while completing 87 percent of his passes overall and won all six of his duels as 1868 FC rallied for a resounding road win.

memphis 901 fc (0) v nashville sc (2)

MEMPHIS, Tenn. – Nashville scored on either side of halftime to complete a season sweep of in-state rival 901 FC. The hosts looked the shaper side out of the gate and forced a strong save out of Matt Pickens in the eighth minute as the Nashville goalkeeper had to elevate to parry Wesley Charpie’s stinging right-footed shot from 20 yards out over the crossbar. Memphis thought it had taken the lead from the resulting corner kick as Brandon Allen bundled the ball over the line from close range after a goalmouth scramble, but he was adjudged to be in an offside position and the tally was taken off the board. Nashville showed its threat on the counter in the 15th minute when Lebo Moloto picked up the ball just inside his own half and dribbled to the top of the 901 FC box before unleashing a left-footed shot that beat Memphis goalkeeper Scott Levene but bounced back into play off the crossbar. Pickens had to be strong at his near post just after the half-hour mark to keep out a tight-angle shot from Elliot Collier and his side went on to take the lead in the 42nd minute when Jimmy Ockford got the slightest of touches to tap Moloto’s free kick delivery past Levene and mark his Nashville debut with a goal. NSC leading scorer Daniel Ríos doubled the visitors’ advantage four minutes after the break, smashing a right-footed shot into the roof of Levene’s net after Alan Winn expertly broke the 901 FC high line with a splitting through ball. That proved to be all of the offense Nashville would need as it limited Memphis to one shot on target the rest of the match to claim bragging rights.  

USLChampionship.com Man of the Match

Jimmy Ockford, Nashville SC – Ockford scored the game-winning goal, completed 88 percent of his passes and made six recoveries in his club debut to help Nashville earn a 2-0 road victory over in-state rival Memphis.

swope park rangers (4) v hartford athletic (3)

KANSAS CITY, Mo. – The Rangers held off a Hartford rally to leapfrog the Athletic in the Eastern Conference standings with a high-scoring home win. After sitting out last week’s match due to suspension, Felipe Hernandez didn’t waste much time to get back on the scoresheet as he picked the pocket of Athletic defender Raymond Lee and beat goalkeeper Frederik Due to open the scoring in the seventh minute. Kelyn Rowe extended the Swope Park lead to three with a pair of goals in a four-minute span, first firing a fantastic dipping effort into the top-left corner from nearly 30 yards out before settling for a much easier tap-in after Erik Hurtado drew Due out of position and laid the ball across perfectly for the midfielder to sweep home. The Athletic were handed a lifeline just seconds after the second-half restart when Rangers defender Camden Riley’s attempted clearance ended up in the back of his own net, but Swope Park restored its three-goal advantage four minutes later when 16-year-old Tyler Freeman fired a left-footed shot past Due for his first professional goal. Alex Dixon beat Rangers goalkeeper Brooks Thompson with an acrobatic right-footed volley from 12 yards out to cut Hartford’s deficit to two in the 58th minute and substitute Mac Steeves set the stage for a frantic final 15 minutes after capitalizing on a mistake from Thompson, but it wasn’t enough as Swope Park held on for its second win in three outings.

USLChampionship.com Man of the Match

Kelyn Rowe, Swope Park Rangers – Rowe scored a pair of goals on four shots, completed 82 percent of his passes and won 8 of 16 duels to help the Rangers climb off the bottom of the Eastern Conference standings.

north carolina fc (3) v loudoun united fc (0)

CARY, N.C. – Two goals from Yamikani Chester helped North Carolina secure a bounce-back win in its first meeting with Loudoun. The visitors looked to put the pressure on early as Connor Presley’s right-footed drive from outside the box forced a diving save from NCFC goalkeeper Darrin MacLeod in the seventh minute. However, the hosts found the opening goal just three minutes later after Nelson Martinez fouled Steven Miller on the edge of the penalty area and Robbie Kristo expertly curled the resulting free kick past Loudoun goalkeeper Calle Brown into the top-left corner. MacLeod produced another strong diving stop to deny United midfielder Antonio Bustamante just after the quarter-hour mark in the last meaningful action of the first half. North Carolina came out of the break on the front foot and carved out a pair of quality chances in the opening six minutes of the second half, but Brown did well to shut down a right-footed shot from Miller and a one-on-one break against Kristo in quick succession. The hosts had to work for it, but they eventually got their second goal in the 72nd minute as Kristo fed Chester clean through and the substitute made no mistake with a low right-footed finish into the bottom-left corner. Chester wasn’t done there though as he extended the lead to three just two minutes later, pushing the ball past a Loudoun defender and beating him to it before finding the top-right corner with a curling shot from just beyond 25 yards out. Kristo probably should have added a fourth with 11 minutes remaining when he instead shot right at Brown from close range after connecting with DJ Taylor’s cross, but it wouldn’t matter as North Carolina claimed the three points.

USLChampionship.com Man of the Match

Yamikani Chester, North Carolina FC – The substitute scored a pair of goals on four shots, completed 84 percent of his passes and won 7 of 8 duels to help North Carolina power past Loudoun.

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