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Gameday Report: July 27, Week 21

By USLChampionship.com Staff, 07/28/19, 1:15AM EDT

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Rising FC sets record with 11th consecutive win; Legion FC keep playoff hopes alive with win over Independence

Phoenix Rising FC set a USL Championship record with its 11th consecutive victory as it defeated Tulsa Roughnecks FC, while Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC earned a 4-2 win at the home of the Hartford Athletic behind goals from Steeven Dos Santos, Anthony Velarde, and Neco Brett to highlight a 14-game Saturday. Meanwhile, North Carolina FC established their place in the Eastern Conference with an impressive 4-2 home win over ATLUTD2. In the Music City, Nashville SC held Indy Eleven to a 2-0 result, allowing the hosts to pull closer to the Eastern Conference leaders after a big result, and Birmingham Legion FC kept their playoff hopes alive with a 1-0 win over Charlotte Independence. Elsewhere, Austin Bold FC defeated Fresno FC, 1-0, to end the visitors' five-game win streak and keep the hosts' playoff hopes alive. Meanwhile, STLFC's Kyle Greig scored one and tallied a separate assist to help Saint Louis defeat Bethlehem Steel FC on Saturday. Elsewhere in the Western Conference, San Antonio continued its recent undefeated streak with a crucial win to keep their playoff hopes alive.

 

Orange County SC (0) v Sacramento Republic FC (0)

IRVINE, Calif. - Orange County SC and Sacramento Republic FC dueled to a scoreless draw as the last feature of Saturday night with OCSC's Aaron Cervantes making a trio of important saves to keep the visitors at bay. The result helped OCSC keep momentum out west having picked up four points in their last two games.

USL Championship Man of the Match

Aaron Cervantes, Orange County SC– Cervantes made multiple saves in the second half to keep the opposition at bay, keeping the visitors out in the 12th, 50th, and 80th minute en route to the draw.

 

Reno 1868 FC (4) v Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC (0)

RENO, Calif. – Reno’s win streak got back to another start as the hosts knocked off Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC for their second-straight win, after defeating Orange County SC on the road last weekend.  Reno's attack lit up the Switchbacks' defence with playmaker Corey Hertzog helping to spark things moving forward and Lindo Mfeka's second-half brace.

USL Championship Man of the Match

Corey Hertzog, Reno 1868 FC  - Hertzog scored Reno's first and was an integral part of the victory as the hosts continue to chase down Phoenix Rising FC at the top of the Western Conference.

 

Las Vegas Lights FC (2) v Rio Grande Valley FC (1)

LAS VEGAS, Nev. - Las Vegas Lights FC picked up a giant win over Rio Grande Valley FC to keep their Western Conference playoff hopes in position as the Championship picture begins to take shape. 

In the first half, Las Vegas took the lead as Gabe Robinson put the hosts in front after just 10 minutes. However, RGV struck back after the 26th minute as Carlos Small finished off a pass from Eric Bird to level scoring.

Despite the quick equalizer, Lights FC scored the winner after 31 minutes when Irvin Parra finished off a Jose Villareal move to extend a lead that the club would keep throughout the rest of the match, earning all three points.

USL Championship Man of the Match

Irvin Parra, Las Vegas Lights FC - Parra scored one and assisted on another while creating two chances and completing nearly 74 percent of his total passes in Lights FC's win on Saturday.

 

Tacoma Defiance (0) v OKC Energy FC (2)

CHENEY, Seattle. - Tacoma Defiance and OKC Energy FC duked it out to a 2-0 win in favor of the hosts thanks to goals by defenders Kyle Hyland and Atiba Harris in the second half. An eventful first 45 minutes saw OKC Energy FC manage to repel what was thrown their way by the visitors with OKC pressing the Tacoma defense early on. Instead, OKC Energy FC opted for a pair of late-game substitutions that were intended to end the match and secure a victory for the visitors via Kyle Hyland and Atiba Harris. 

USL Championship Man of the Match

Rafael Garcia, OKC Energy FC - Though he did not score in the match, Garcia created a crucial 5 of 7 key passing attempts and created four total chances in his first week in action.

 

San Antonio FC (3) v Real Monarchs SLC (1)

SAN ANTONIO - Three different goals from three different players saw San Antonio get back to winning ways in a 3-1 win over Real Monarchs SLC. First-half goals from Brian Gomez and Frank Lopez before Lionel Etoundi’s red card and Luis Palma’s strike on halftime proved to be enough for Darren Moore’s side. Billy Forbes  added his fourth goal of the season in the 83rd minute to claim all three points for San Antonio.

USL Championship Man of the Match

Frank Lopez, San Antonio FC - Lopez scored one and assisted one another while creating three chances as the hosts picked up another vital win en route to a potential playoff berth.

 

Tulsa Roughnecks FC (0) v Phoenix Rising FC (1)

TULSA, Okla. - Phoenix Rising FC set a new club and league record after a 1-0 win over Tulsa Roughnecks FC saw last years' Western Conferenece finalists gather their 11th consecutive win overall following a narrow defeat.

After a straight red card was shown to Tulsa midfielder Fredlin Mompremier in the 45th minute, the Roughnecks turned up the heat and managed to cause a few problems for the visitors. However, Rising FC took the lead in the 69th minute to capitalize on their dominance, this time through Kevon Lambert off an Adam Jahn cross to again establish a final lead.

USL Championship Man of the Match

Kevon Lambert, Phoenix Rising FC - Lambert scored Phoenix's decisive goal and was an influential member in multiple attacking moves to help the visitors earn a victory that extends their already impressive win streak.

 

Saint Louis FC (3) v Bethlehem Steel FC (0)

SAINT LOUIS, Mo. - Saint Louis FC defeated Bethlehem Steel FC, 3-0, on Saturday to establish their place in the Eastern Conference standings against regularly tough opposition.

STLFC jumped out to a first-half lead when Kyle Greig scored in the 41 minutes to give Los Blancos a bit of false hope, but second-half goals in the 48th and 49th minute allowed STLFC to establish a new position as they prepared to wind down and go again in Week 21. Then, midfielders Lewis Hilton and Kadeem Dacres helped put Saint Louis in ideal position after goals in the 48th and 49th minute helped establish their position that Steel FC could not recover from, ending their hopes of a late comeback.

USL Championship Man of the Match

Kyle Greig, Saint Louis FC - Greig scored one and assisted on another as Saint Louis FC attempts to mount its regular season comeback after this year's Open Cup disappointment.

 

Austin Bold FC (1) v Fresno FC (0)

AUSTIN, Texas - Austin Bold FC picked up a crucial 1-0 win over thanks to a first-half goal from Isaac Promise, assisted by Kris Tyrpak, to help Bold FC's playoff efforts just after midway through the season.

Fresno FC nearly scored after just 19 minutes, only to see Qudus Lawal's effort stonewalled by Diego Restrepo to preserve the clean sheet. Then, Restrepo repelled Lawal for second-straight denial to keep things close, despite the hosts' repeated attempts to find a away back into the game.

As the visitors continued to search for their first, Restrepo's massive save in the 69th minute on Diego Casillas ultimately proved the difference maker as Austin boosted their playoff hopes with a big win at home.

USL Championship Man of the Match

Isaac Promise, Austin Bold FC - Promise scored the game's lone goal while completing over 86 percent of his passes in the narrow win.

 

Nashville SC (2) v Indy Eleven (0)

NASHVILLE, Tenn. - In one of two matches at Nissan Stadium in 2019, Nashville SC defeated major Eastern Conference rivals Indy Eleven, 2-0, thanks to goals from Daniel Rios and Alan Winn in the first half. After 24 minutes, the hosts broke the deadlock as Rios played a quick one-two with Michael Reed that resulted in the forward being played in and beating Indy goalkeeper Evan Newton from close in to establish the lead. Then, in the 42nd minute, Nashville's Lebo Moloto played through teammate Alan Winn just inside the penalty area, where Winn produced an impressive finish to beat Newton from just a few yards out and claim all three points.

USL Championship Man of the Match

Alan Winn, Nashville SC - Winn completed just over 92 percent of his passes while chipping in a goal and won 9 of 16 duels while creating six chances overall in Nashville's impressive win.

 

Birmingham Legion FC (1) v Charlotte Independence (0)

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. - Birmingham Legion FC kept their playoff hopes alive with a crucial 1-0 win over the Charlotte Independence on Saturday night. Needing a win to keep their pace in the playoff hopefuls, Legion FC midfielder J.J. Williams put the hosts in front after 28 minutes when a deflected effort somehow looped over the head of Charlotte goalkeeper Brandon Miller to give the hosts the visitors and a better chance at making the USL Championship Playoffs just after halfway through the season.

USL Championship Man of the Match

J.J. Williams, Birmingham Legion FC - Williams's tally in the 28th minute was ultimately the difference maker as Birmingham picked up a massive win with playoff implications against a struggling Charlotte side, who have just a few games to make up ground ahead of the 2019 USL Championship Playoffs.

 

NORTH CAROLINA FC (4) V ATLANTA UNITED 2 (2)

 

CARY, N.C.  - North Carolina FC solidified their place in the Eastern Conference standings after Week 21 thanks to a 4-2 win over Atlanta United 2 at Sahlen's Stadium at WakeMed Soccer Park.

The hosts were quick to pile pressure on the visitors and broke through in the 16th minute as Urich Ewolo broke through and finished off NC's move to put his side in front. Quickly after, NC doubled their lead through captain Steven Miller before adding a third just four minutes later, also through Miller, to add to their lead.

However, ATLUTD2 struck back twice and made an occasion of the evening as Will Vint and goalscorer Bienvenue Kanakimara found the back of the net to pull two goals back before the interval.

Then, North Carolina FC found their fourth goal of the night--also scored by Ewolo and assisted by Miller--to potentially close out the night in the opening 45 minutes.

In the second half, both sides boasted a number of opportunities but were ultimately unable to break the deadlock as NCFC earned another home win behind Head Coach Dave Sarachan's crew in the win over struggling ATLUTD2.

USL Championship Man of the Match

Steven Miller, North Carolina FC - Miller scored twice and assisted on another while creating one chance and completing over 93% over his passing attempts in the win.

 

Hartford Athletic (2) v Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC (4)

HARTFORD, Conn. - Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC continued to climb the Eastern Conference standings after picking up a 4-2 win against the Hartford Athletic in front of a packed crowd at Dillon Stadium, with goals from Steeven Dos Santos, Anthony Velarde, and Neco Brett.

In the 13th minute, Pittsburgh jumped out to an early lead as Dos Santos headed home a cross on the left flank from Velarde to give the visitors the lead. In the 37th minute, Velarde turned from provider to scorer to turn in Riverhounds SC's second goal of the game, finishing off a loose ball in the box from seven yards out to double the lead. One minute later, Pittsburgh took a three-goal lead as defender Kyle Curinga turned in a Dos Santos cross into his own net to give the visitors a big advantage heading into the break.

However, just after the half, Hartford playmaker Mads Jorgenson produced an impressive free kick from 25 yards out that beat Pittsburgh goalkeeper Kyle Morton to claw one back for the hosts. Despite that, Riverhounds SC substitute Neco Brett added a fourth for the visitors to all but seal the game, and Sebastian Dalgaard's goal in the 84th minute proved only consolation as Pittsburgh picked up a big win on the road.

USL Championship Man of the Match

Anthony Velarde, Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC - Velarde scored one and assisted on another while completing nearly 87 percent of his passes while creating six chances on the night.

 

Swope Park Rangers v Charleston Battery

POSTPONDED - Rescheduled date TBD

 

Memphis 901 FC (2) v Ottawa Fury FC (0)

MEMPHIS, Tenn. - Memphis 901 FC squeezed out an effective 2-0 win over Ottawa Fury FC on Saturday, helping cement a potential playoff position after the halfway mark of the season.

After a scoreless first half, Memphis capitalized near the hour mark as an own goal was registered to Fury FC defender Thomas Meilleur-Giguère. With the lead, the defenders cemented themselves and ensured a victory over Ottawa following the two-goal defeat in the 62nd minute.

USL Championship Man of the Match - 

Adam Najem, Memphis 901 FC - Najem was a significant playmaker for Memphis on Saturday, scoring the club's second goal and pitching in multiple opportunities in attack.

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