Tacoma Defiance delivered a blow to Orange County SC's playoff hopes on Friday night as Shandon Hopeau inspired the hosts to a 2-1 comeback victory at Cheney Stadium.
In the East, Loudoun United FC overcame three different deficits to earn a point in its first game at Segra Field on Friday night in a thrilling 3-3 draw with the Charlotte Independence that also saw visiting forward Jorge Herrera join Indy Eleven’s Dane Kelly atop the Championship’s all-time goalscoring chart with his 71st career regular-season goal.
TACOMA, Wash. – The Defiance battled back from a goal down to defeat Orange County at Cheney Stadium. The visitors got off to the perfect start in the 11th minute when Darwin Jones was allowed time and space to dribble down the left flank before providing a driven cross for Michael Seaton to tap home with a first-time, side-foot volley on the doorstep to give Orange County the lead. The hosts responded well after going behind and were inches away from an equalizer eight minutes later when Nicholas Hinds squared the ball across the box for Shandon Hopeau, who saw his shot deflected onto the near post by OCSC goalkeeper Aaron Cervantes. Hopeau came close again in the 37th minute but just couldn’t reach Jesse Daley’s teasing through ball with a sliding finish and the goal gaping. The third time proved to be the charm for Hopeau, who collected a loose ball at the top of the box and picked out the bottom-left corner to tie the game just before halftime. Tacoma took the lead seven minutes after the break from a corner kick as Orange County failed to clear the initial in-swinging delivery and Marlon Vargas took advantage, sweeping the ball just over Cervantes and the goal line for his first professional tally. Tacoma defender Aleks Berkholds made sure that goal would stand as the winner with a stoppage-time defensive header that prevented Harry Forrester’s right-footed blast from finding the net as the Defiance won for the second time in three outings.
USLChampionship.com Man of the Match
Shandon Hopeau, Tacoma Defiance – Hopeau scored a goal on three shots, made three key passes and completed 80 percent of his passes overall in a lively attacking performance to help Tacoma earn its fourth home win of the season.
LEESBURG, Va. – United battled back three times to salvage a point with the Independence at Segra Field. The two teams traded half-chances over the opening half-an-hour as Charlotte’s Isaac Angking forced a save out of Calle Brown on a curling from distance and Loudoun’s Orlando Sinclair tested Independence goalkeeper Brandon Miller with a right-footed effort from the edge of the box. The visitors had the ball in the back of the net in the 32nd minute from a corner kick, but Aaron Maund was ruled to be offsides when he tapped the ball into the net from close range. Charlotte would go on to take the lead just six minutes later, however, as Valentín Sabella fired Afrim Taku’s cutback home from six yards out for his first professional goal and the first ever goal at Segra Field. The hosts found an equalizer just before halftime as Harri Hawkins followed up on the rebound after Miller had made an initial stop to deny Sinclair from the right side of the six-yard box. Loudoun nearly took the lead nine minutes after the break when Elvis Amoh struck the post with a right-footed effort from the center of the box but instead it was Charlotte that again jumped in front through Jorge Herrera, who found the bottom-left corner in the 63rd minute to tie the USL Championship record with his 71st career regular-season goal. The lead lasted just two minutes as Antonio Bustamante took Gordon Wild’s pass at the top of the box and curled a right-footed shot past Miller into the top-right corner. The Independence took the lead for a third time in the 70th minute with Herrera turning provider, crossing from the right for substitute Dominic Oduro to head past Brown into the bottom-left corner. Loudoun found another answer with 11 minutes remaining as Carlos Alvarez provided a lovely header to Christian Sorto’s driven cross to set up a dramatic finish. Both sides had a chance to nab all three points as Wild’s drive forced Miller into a leaping save at his near post and Brown responded a spectacular stop to deny Kevan George’s header from a stoppage-time corner kick as the sides settled for a point apiece.
USLChampionship.com Man of the Match
Afrim Taku, Charlotte Independence – Taku recorded two assists, made four key passes and completed 85 percent of his passes overall to help the Independence earn a road point against Loudoun.