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Gameday Report: October 9, Week 32

By USLChampionship.com Staff, 10/09/19, 9:45PM EDT

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Monarchs edge OCSC to clinch playoff spot, climb to fourth in West; STLFC, Legion FC falter in race for East's final spots

Real Monarchs SLC clinched a return to the USL Championship Playoffs and moved up to fourth place in the Western Conference standings on Wednesday night thanks to a 2-0 victory over Orange County SC at Zions Bank Stadium.

In the Eastern Conference, a 93rd-minute goal from Elvis Amoh helped Loudoun United FC play spoiler for the second time in less than a week as the expansion side earned a dramatic 4-3 victory over playoff hopeful Saint Louis FC at Segra Field. Birmingham Legion FC failed to make the most of that defeat as it suffered a 4-0 loss of its own to Hartford Athletic at Dillon Stadium, while ATL UTD 2 extended its unbeaten run to seven games as it defeated Bethlehem Steel FC 5-2 at Fifth Third Bank Stadium. 

real monarchs slc (2) v orange county sc (0)

HERRIMAN, Utah – The Monarchs used two second-half goals to defeat Orange County at Zions Bank Stadium and clinch a spot in the 2019 USL Championship Playoffs. The hosts nearly took the lead in the most fortuitous of circumstances on 20 minutes as Maikel Chang’s attempted square pass took a wicked deflection off Walker Hume, but the Orange County defender was able to breathe a sigh of relief as his goalkeeper Frederik Due reacted quickly enough to push the ball wide of the post. The visitors weren’t so lucky in the attacking third 15 minutes later when Jerry van Wolfgang connected sweetly with Michael Seaton’s right-wing pullback, but the Dutchman’s left-footed shot bounced back into play off the post. Orange County continued to ramp up the pressure moments later as van Wolfgang played a one-two with Seaton before forcing a save out of Real goalkeeper Andrew Putna with a right-footed effort from the right side of the box and Seaton couldn’t get enough power on the rebound as the two sides went into the break scoreless. Van Wolfgang nearly opened the scoring again just after the hour-mark, beating the offside trap and riding a challenge from Monarchs defender Kalen Ryden before side-footing an effort at Putna while on the turn. Despite the pressure from the visitors, it was the home side that got on the board first as Tate Schmitt’s left-wing pullback was directed into his own net by OCSC midfielder Aodhan Quinn with 17 minutes remaining. The Monarchs got the all-important next goal with a brilliant counterattacking move 10 minutes later as Jack Blake played Chang in down the left and the forward rounded an onrushing Due before slotting the ball into an empty net. Luke Mulholland nearly added a third goal for the hosts in the game’s final minutes, but the Monarchs wouldn’t need any more insurance as they kept their first clean sheet since August 2.

USLChampionship.com Man of the Match

Maikel Chang, Real Monarchs SLC – Chang scored a goal on four shots, completed 85 percent of his passes and 3 of 4 dribbles, while also winning 6 of 10 duels in a strong attacking performance to help the Monarchs clinch their spot in the postseason.

hartford athletic (4) v birmingham legion fc (0)

HARTFORD, Conn. – The Athletic used a four-goal second half to push past Legion FC on Wednesday Night Soccer at Dillon Stadium. After a quiet opening 45 minutes during which the two sides failed to create any clear-cut opportunities, the hosts came out of the break strong and nearly took the lead three minutes into the second half when Sebastian Dalgaard kept Danny Barrera’s cross from going over the end line on the left side of the box and put it back into the mixer for Jose Angulo to head towards the bottom-right corner, but the forward’s effort was cleared off the line by Birmingham defender Akeem Ward. Angulo was instrumental in Hartford’s opener in the 56th minute, winning possession in the attacking third before providing a first-time finish to Daniel Bedoya’s through ball past Legion FC goalkeeper Matt Van Oekel into the bottom-right corner. Bedoya doubled the Athletic’s advantage six minutes later with a stunning solo goal, carrying the ball from well inside his own half and firing an unstoppable shot into the top-left corner from nearly 30 yards out. Hartford goalkeeper Cody Cropper was called into action in the 69th minute and made a strong save to keep out a left-footed effort from Birmingham forward JJ Williams as the visitors looked to get back in the game. Van Oekel did well to keep the deficit at two in the 78th minute when he made himself big to keep out Barrera’s left-footed volley, but the midfielder found himself in acres of space three minutes later and got on the scoresheet with a finesse finish around the Birmingham netminder to extend the lead to three. Wojciech Wojcik rounded off a strong second-half performance from the home side with four minutes remaining as he won the ball in the attacking third and ran onto Dalgaard’s through ball before firing past Van Oekel to seal the three points.

USLChampionship.com Man of the Match

Daniel Bedoya, Hartford Athletic – Bedoya recorded a goal and an assist, completed 91 percent of his passes and made seven recoveries in a strong performance as Hartford earned its first win in five tries.

loudoun united fc (4) v saint louis fc (3)

LEESBURG, Va. – Elvis Amoh’s 93rd-minute goal gave Loudoun a dramatic comeback victory over Saint Louis at Segra Field. The visitors nearly stuck from a bit of direct play inside the opening five minutes as Tyler Blackwood beat a pair of Loudoun defenders to Sean Reynold’s long ball over the top and fizzed a right-footed shot just wide of the target. The hosts came close to taking the lead on a similar piece of play in the 23rd minute as Amoh’s long ball found Gordon Wild on the right and the winger created a yard of space to shoot, forcing a lunging save out of STLFC goalkeeper Tomas Gomez. Saint Louis probably should’ve converted from a corner kick at the other end two minutes later as Lewis Hilton’s delivery picked out Kyle Greig, but the forward just missed the target with a free header from six yards out. Hilton took matters into his own hands with 10 minutes remaining in the half as he guided a free kick over the Loudoun wall and past goalkeeper Earl Edwards Jr. to give his side the lead. The home side responded less than two minutes after the break as Chris Odoi-Atsem’s right-wing cross reached Alioune Ndour, who headed past Gomez at the back post to level the contest with his second goal in as many games. The goal sparked a renewed attacking intensity from both sides, Amoh forcing a diving save out of Gomez on one end and Edwards Jr. reciprocating the effort on the other with an impressive reaction stop to keep out Kadeem Dacres’ deflected effort. Kyle Murphy gave Loudoun the lead just shy of the hour-mark with a sublime bit of individual play, overpowering one STLFC player to win possession and cutting inside another before finessing a fine finish past Gomez into the top-right corner. Saint Louis responded with two goals in a five-minute span to retake the lead, as Blackwood fired through traffic to equalize after settling Matt Bahner’s cross on the right side of the box and then set up his side’s third, cutting the ball back to Hilton to pick out the bottom-left corner with a right-footed shot for his second goal of the night. Loudoun found an equalizer out of nothing with 10 minutes remaining as Andrew Lubahn reacted quickly after losing a header in the box and worked the ball to Antonio Bustamante, who blazed a right-footed shot past Gomez and in off the underside of the crossbar to set up a frantic finish. It looked as though neither side was going to find a winner until the dying moments of second-half stoppage time when Amoh beat STLFC defender Sam Fink in the air at the top of the box and ran in on goal, finishing high past Gomez to give Loudoun a dramatic last-gasp victory.

USLChampionship.com Man of the Match

Lewis Hilton, Saint Louis FC – Hilton scored a pair of goals, made five key passes, won eight of 11 duels, completed both of his dribbles and made five recoveries in a losing effort for the visitors at Segra Field.

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

KENNESAW, Ga. – ATL UTD 2 extended its unbeaten streak to seven games with a victory over Steel FC at Fifth Third Bank Stadium. The home side came inches away from opening the scoring in the 19th minute when Mikey Ambrose played a great through ball down the left wing to George Bello, who slid a pass across the face of goal to Patrick Okonkwo but the forward’s first-time shot bounced back into play off of the right post. ATL UTD 2 finally got the ball over the line in the 38th minute when George Campbell rose highest to head Ambrose’s in-swinging corner kick past Steel FC goalkeeper Todd Morton. Ambrose doubled his side’s lead in style five minutes later, expertly curling a free kick over the wall and into the top-left corner from about 20 yards out after Campbell had been fouled by Bethlehem’s James Chambers. Steel FC was handed a golden opportunity to cut the lead in half three minutes after the break when Wesly Decas was ruled to have fouled Ben Ofeimu in the penalty area and Faris stepped up for Steel FC, dispatching the resulting spot kick past ATL UTD 2 goalkeeper Dylan Castanheira. The hosts restored their two-goal cushion in the 57th minute when Kevin Barajas played a lovely chipped through ball to send Okonkwo in on goal and the forward side-footed his first-time shot past Morton into the bottom-right corner. ATL UTD 2 grabbed a fourth goal from the penalty spot four minutes later when Ofeimu fouled Guillermo Benítez in the area and Bello sent Morton the wrong way from 12 yards. Bethlehem reduced the deficit to two with 13 minutes remaining when Selmir Miscic turned in Axel Picazo’s cutback from the left side of the box, but ATL UTD 2 got the crucial next goal with three minutes to play as Bienvenue Kanakimana converted from the spot after being taken down by Morton in the penalty area to sum up a tough night for the visitors.

USLChampionship.com Man of the Match

George Campbell, ATL UTD 2 – Campbell scored one of Atlanta’s five goals and completed 88 percent of his passes in addition to winning 13 of 14 duels and making 10 recoveries on the defensive end of the field.

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