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Gameday Report: September 1, Week 26

By USLChampionship.com Staff, 09/01/19, 8:15PM EDT

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Saint Louis, Orange County get crucial wins to boost playoff hopes; Bold FC claims Copa Tejas

Saint Louis FC gave its playoff hopes a significant boost as Kyle Greig's brace helped the side end its five-game winless run with a 3-2 victory over Hartford Athletic on Sunday night at West Community Stadium. Elsewhere in the East, Bethlehem Steel FC completed a season sweep of the Swope Park Rangers with a 2-0 win at Talen Energy Stadium.

In the West, Austin Bold FC claimed the inaugural edition of the Copa Tejas with a 3-0 victory over 10-man Rio Grande Valley FC, while Orange County SC picked a great time for its second road win of the season as it defeated fellow playoff hopeful New Mexico United 2-0 at Isotopes Park to move into seventh place in the Western Conference standings. 

Saint Louis FC (3) v Hartford Athletic (2)

FENTON, Mo. – STLFC ended its five-game winless run with a much-needed victory over the Athletic at West Community Stadium. Hartford goalkeeper Cody Cropper kept his side from going behind inside of six minutes, tracking Russell Cicerone’s low shot through traffic and holding onto the ball as a pair of Saint Louis players prepared to pounce on a rebound. Cicerone forced Cropper into another diving save ten minutes later, but the Athletic netminder was left with no chance moments after as Kadeem Dacres blasted a right-footed shot from 25 yards out into the top-right corner to give his side the lead. Dacres tried his luck from a similar distance in the 20th minute, but Cropper made a strong diving save to keep his side in the game. Hartford found an equalizer just shy of the half-hour mark when Alex Dixon took on a pair of STLFC defenders and Sean Reynolds tackled the ball off the forward but put it past goalkeeper Tomas Gomez into his own net. Kyle Grieg restored the home side’s advantage with seven minutes remaining in the half, firing a low shot through Cropper from the right side of the box after Tyler Blackwood had won possession in the attacking third. Greig grabbed his second goal of the game to extend the lead to two in the 65th minute when his initial header was blocked but Matt Bahner recovered the loose ball and slid a pass across to the forward to produce a sliding finish from close range. Hartford found a response two minutes later to cut the deficit in half as Sebastian Dalgaard volleyed Alex Dixon’s right-wing cross into the ground, but the ball looped up off the underside of the crossbar and in behind a sprawling Gomez to set up a frenzied finish. Gomez kept Jose Angulo from tying the game moments later with a strong low save to his left after the forward had found some space on the right side of the penalty area. Cropper made another stop on substitute Masta Kacher at his near post as Saint Louis pushed for another insurance goal, but the hosts wouldn’t need it as they picked up a massive three points.

USLChampionship.com Man of the Match

Kyle Greig, Saint Louis FC – Greig scored a pair of goals, including the eventual game-winner, on just three shots to help Saint Louis earn its first win since July 27.

Austin Bold FC (3) v Rio Grande Valley FC (0)

AUSTIN, Texas. –  Bold FC claimed the inaugural edition of the Copa Tejas with a 3-0 victory over 10-man Rio Grande Valley. The hosts opened the scoring in the 33rd minute through Ema Twumasi, who arrived at the top of the box right on time to slot Thomas de Villardi’s left-wing cross past RGVFC goalkeeper Nicolas Corti into the bottom-left corner. Things got worse for Corti 11 minutes later as the netminder was shown a straight red card after being adjudged to have handled the ball outside his penalty area when he made a sliding challenge to prevent a breakaway. RGVFC backup goalkeeper Ben Willis was called into action immediately as Kleber struck the resulting free kick toward the top-left corner, but Willis was able to push the Bold FC forward’s drive onto the crossbar and Twumasi headed the rebound over the crossbar. Austin made its man advantage count in the second half as Andre Lima doubled the lead for the home side on the hour-mark, firing into an essentially empty net after Willis had failed to catch or punch Kris Tyrpak’s left-wing cross. Willis made a pair of strong saves on Kleber and Promise Isaac to keep the lead at two in the latter stages of the second half but Isaac headed George Acosta’s corner past the onrushing RGVFC ‘keeper with three minutes remaining to round out a convincing win.

USLChampionship.com Man of the Match

Thomas de Villardi, Austin Bold FC – The midfielder recorded an assist, completed 97 percent of his passes, won 5 of 6 duels and made four recoveries in a strong all-around performance to help Bold FC claim the Copa Tejas.

New Mexico United (0) v Orange County SC (2)

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – Orange County SC scored twice in a four-minute span during the second half to secure a shutout win over New Mexico at Isotopes Park. The visitors had a great opportunity to open the scoring from a corner kick in the 10th minute, but Michael Seaton headed Aodhan Quinn’s delivery wide of the target from four yards out. New Mexico created its first quality chance of the contest six minutes later when Kevaughn Frater switched the play with a cross-field pass to Santi Moar, who dribbled in on goal down the left wing but saw his shot stopped by Orange County goalkeeper Frederik Due. New Mexico netminder Cody Mizell was called into action in the 23rd minute when Michael Orozco sprung Seaton clean through with a ball over the top, but Mizell did well to off his line and get in the way of the forward’s first-time volley. Due ensured that the two teams went into the half scoreless, diving across his goal to keep out Chris Wehan’s ambitious free kick from 35 yards out. Orange County took control of the match after the break with two goals in a four-minute span as Jerry van Wolfgang curled a right-footed finish past Mizell in the 52nd minute before Michael Seaton followed up by firing home his 10th goal of campaign after a nifty nutmeg setup from Harry Forrester. A lightning delay gave New Mexico the opportunity to regroup and United nearly cut into the deficit shortly after the teams returned to the field with Frater forcing another strong save out of Due after a short corner-kick routine. Van Wolfgang nearly grabbed his second goal of the night with seven minutes remaining, but Orange County wouldn’t need any extra insurance as it held for a clean sheet.

USLChampionship.com Man of the Match

Frederik Due, Orange County SC – Due had a debut to remember for Orange County, making seven saves to backstop his new club to a vital victory over New Mexico United at Isotopes Park.

Bethlehem Steel FC (2) v Swope Park Rangers (0)

CHESTER, Pa. – Steel FC completed a season sweep of the Rangers with victory at Talen Energy Stadium. The hosts manufactured the first quality chance of the evening when Issa Rayyan squared a pass for Patrick Bohui in the center of the box, but the 15-year-old blazed his turning shot over the crossbar from close range. Steel FC took the lead in style in the 36th minute through Michee Ngalina, who curled a free kick around the Swope Park wall and past Rangers goalkeeper John Pulskamp from 22 yards out. The visitors came close to responding four minutes before the break as Zé Pedro picked out Rennico Clarke with a right-wing cross, but the defender couldn’t get enough power on his header to beat Bethlehem goalkeeper Todd Morton. Zé Pedro forced another low save out of Morton four minutes after halftime, driving a left-footed shot towards the bottom-right corner after a quick Swope Park counterattack. Bethlehem nearly doubled its advantage just shy of the hour-mark when Jamoi Topey’s header from a corner kick was cleared off the line, but the hosts would get their second goal on 75 minutes as Rayyan squared for Zach Zandi to slot home from close range at the second attempt. Topey was shown a second yellow card for a challenge on Rassambek Akhmatov with six minutes remaining, but Steel FC saw the game out with 10 men to pick up three points.

USLChampionship.com Man of the Match

Zach Zandi, Bethlehem Steel FC – Zandi scored a goal on two shots, completed 93 percent of his passes and won 5 of 10 duels to help Steel FC earn its first win in five tries.

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