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Gameday Report: September 18, Week 29

By USLChampionship.com Staff, 09/18/19, 9:15PM EDT

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Saint Louis downs New York for fifth straight win; Battery's loss puts Tampa Bay, Nashville into postseason

Saint Louis FC extended its winning streak to five games and shutout streak to 383 minutes with a 2-0 victory over the first-place New York Red Bulls II on Wednesday night at West Community Stadium. Elsewhere, Wal Fall's 91st-minute penalty kick helped Ottawa Fury FC end its four-game losing streak with a 1-0 victory over the Tampa Bay Rowdies at TD Place. However, the Rowdies and Nashville SC clinched their places in the postseason after the Charleston Battery suffered a 3-1 defeat against ATL UTD 2 at Fifth Third Bank Stadium.

In the Western Conference, braces from Qudus Lawal and Jaime Chávez helped Fresno FC to a 5-0 victory over Rio Grande Valley FC at Chukchansi Park that saw the side leapfrog Reno 1868 FC back into second place in the standings.

fresno fc (5) v rio grande valley fc (0)

FRESNO, Calif. – Fresno returned to second place in the Western Conference with a big win over Rio Grande Valley at Chukchansi Park. The Foxes took the lead six minutes into the contest when Michael Daly picked out Jaime Chávez with a long ball over the top and the forward expertly cushioned a headed pass to Qudus Lawal, who fired a left-footed shot past RGVFC goalkeeper Nicolas Corti. The visitors had a golden opportunity to equalize from the penalty spot in the 26th minute after Zachary Ellis-Hayden had fouled Deshane Beckford in the box, but Carlos Small’s effort from 12 yards was kept out by Fresno goalkeeper CJ Cochran. The Foxes doubled their lead with a penalty kick of their own minutes later as Emir Alihodzic slid his shot under Corti and Chávez gave the hosts a three-goal cushion just before halftime with a curling strike into the bottom-right corner from 22 yards out. Alihodzic turned provider for Fresno’s fourth goal of the night just after the hour-mark, intercepting a pass in the attacking third and feeding Chavez to fire past Corti for his second goal of the evening. Lawal would go on to bag his brace in the 63rd minute, firing an unstoppable right-footed volley from the center of the box after RGVFC had failed to clear its lines from a corner kick to put a powerful stamp on a five-star performance.

USLChampionship.com Man of the Match

Jaime Chávez, Fresno FC – Chávez scored a pair of goals, set up another, recorded five chances created and won 10 of 18 duels to lead a high-flying Fresno attack.

saint louis fc (2) v new york red bulls ii (0)

FENTON, Mo. – Saint Louis extended its winning streak to five games with an impressive victory over the Red Bulls II at West Community Stadium. The hosts got off to a flying start as Russell Cicerone’s left-wing cross reached Tyler Blackwood at the back post and the forward provided a sliding finish past New York goalkeeper Evan Louro to give his side the lead in the third minute. The visitors came close to finding an equalizer in the 61st minute when Jared Stroud took Kyle Zajec’s pass and fired a low shot through traffic from 20 yards out that forced an impressive diving save out of STLFC goalkeeper Tomas Gomez. Saint Louis somehow failed to extend its lead a minute later as Louro palmed away an initial shot from Cicerone, made a kick save to deny Kyle Greig and then watched as Lewis Hilton’s follow-up attempt slid just wide of the post. The hosts would get their insurance goal in the 70th minute, however, as Sam Fink blasted a penalty kick right down the center of the goal after Jordan Scarlett had fouled Masta Kacher in the area. Paris Gee pulled a left-footed shot wide late on as Saint Louis searched for a third goal, but it wouldn’t need it as it held on for a fourth straight shutout victory.

USLChampionship.com Man of the Match

Sam Fink, Saint Louis FC – Fink converted from the penalty spot, made 15 clearances, five recoveries and won 4 of 7 duels to help Saint Louis shut out the Eastern Conference’s highest-scoring attack.

bethlehem steel fc (5) v loudoun united fc (2)

CHESTER, Pa. – Steel FC scored four unanswered goals to earn a comeback victory over Loudoun at Talen Energy Stadium. The visitors got off to the perfect start inside of two minutes as Bethlehem couldn’t clear its defensive third and Gordon Wild made the side pay, taking Jeremy Garay’s pass and firing a left-footed shot past Todd Morton from the edge of the penalty area. The hosts would get back on level terms in the 35th minute when Cole Turner flicked Issa Rayyan’s low cutback onto James Chambers, who smashed his shot past Loudoun goalkeeper Earl Edwards Jr. from six yards out. Loudoun regained the lead from a corner kick just before halftime as Kyle Murphy nodded Wild’s delivery through a crowd and into the bottom-right corner. Bethlehem turned the game around in the first five minutes of the second half, however, as Zach Zandi and Raayan curled a pair of right-footed finished beyond Edwards Jr. within a three-minute span. Steel FC gave itself some breathing room with 10 minutes remaining as Michee Ngalina beat Loudoun’s offside trap and fired into an empty net after cutting in from the right and rounding Edwards Jr. Things got worse for United in the game’s final moments as Harri Hawkins fouled Axel Picazo in the penalty area and Carlos Alvarez was shown a straight red card for dissent before Picazo converted from 12 yards to cap off a resounding win.

USLChampionship.com Man of the Match

Zach Zandi, Bethlehem Steel FC – Zandi recorded one goal and one assist, completed 84 percent of his passes overall and made four recoveries to help Steel FC claim a 5-2 home victory over Loudoun.

atlanta united 2 (3) v charleston battery (1)

KENNESAW, Ga. – ATL UTD 2 extended its unbeaten run to three games with a win over the Battery. The hosts took the lead 10 minutes into the contest as Luiz Fernando executed a flawless one-man counterattack, dribbling past his defender and lifting his shot over Charleston goalkeeper Joe Kuzminsky. The Battery got back on level terms in the 26th minute when Nico Rittmeyer ran onto Taylor Mueller’s long ball and absorbed some contact before beating Atlanta goalkeeper Brendan Moore at his near post. Fernando set up Atlanta’s second goal of the night four minutes after halftime, driving down the left wing and cutting the ball back for Andrew Carleton to sweep home with a left-footed first-time shot from the center of the area. The hosts secured the three points from the penalty spot with 16 minutes remaining as Jack Metcalf converted from 12 yards after George Bello was fouled in the box by Rittmeyer, summing up a frustrating night for the Battery.

USLChampionship.com Man of the Match

Luiz Fernando, ATL UTD 2 – Fernando scored the opening goal and set up the game-winner, while also completing 76 percent of his passes overall and making six recoveries in a strong showing for ATL UTD 2.

ottawa fury fc (1) v tampa bay rowdies (0)

OTTAWA – A stoppage-time penalty from Wal Fall gave Fury FC a dramatic victory over the Rowdies at TD Place. The Ottawa midfielder nearly opened the scoring from a corner kick in the 12th minute, rising highest at the back post to head Carl Haworth’s delivery on target but Tampa Bay goalkeeper John McCarthy made a sprawling save to keep the ball from crossing the goal line. The visitors had their best chance of the opening half in the 38th minute when Thiago’s tackle ended up playing in Rowdies forward Jaime Siaj, who fired just wide of the bottom-right corner from the center of the box. Haworth came close for the hosts eight minutes after halftime as he curled a free kick from 22 yards out around the wall but couldn’t sneak the shot inside McCarthy’s left-hand post. Ottawa was handed a golden opportunity to win the game in the 90th minute when Leo Fernandes tripped Chris Mannella just inside the penalty area and Fall sent McCarthy the wrong way from 12 yards to give his side the lead in the first minute of stoppage time. Fall was sent off a minute later for a second yellow card, but Ottawa held on for a massive three points.

USLChampionship.com Man of the Match

Jamar Dixon, Ottawa Fury FC – Dixon won 6 of 11 duels, completed 2 of 3 dribbles and made three clearances to help Fury FC end its four-game losing streak.

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