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GAMEDAY ROUNDUP: Hoffman’s Hat Trick Sees Orange County End on High

By USLChampionship.com Staff, 10/04/20, 3:21AM EDT

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Hounds put pressure on Athletic with victory; Phoenix, Sacramento both close with wins

Orange County SC’s Chandler Hoffman capped the club’s season with a hat trick against Las Vegas Lights FC, while Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC kept the pressure on Hartford Athletic with a win in its finale and both Phoenix Rising FC and Sacramento Republic FC had four-goal outings to wrap up the regular season in Saturday’s Championship action.

ORANGE COUNTY SC (4), LAS VEGAS LIGHTS FC (2)

LAS VEGAS – Chandler Hoffman scored the second regular-season hat trick of his Championship career to lead Orange County to victory against Lights FC at Cashman Field.

Hoffman put the visitors ahead in the 17th minute as he anticipated a defensive header intended for Lights FC goalkeeper Edward Delgado and stole in to intercept, his first touch carrying him past the goalkeeper to leave an open net to finish into from a narrow angle on the right. Hoffman then doubled Orange County’s lead four minutes later as Darwin Jones found space on the right to deliver a low cross into the six-yard area that was tucked away from close range.

Hoffman’s former teammate Raul Mendiola pulled a goal back for Las Vegas in the 24th minute as he fired home into the roof of the net after a cross from the right wasn’t cleared cleanly by the hosts. Three minutes later, however, Hoffman completed his hat trick as he headed home a corner kick from the right by Aodhan Quinn.

Mendiola notched his second goal of the night for Las Vegas in the 66th minute to make it a one-goal game once again with a curling finish from the right side of the penalty area into the top-left corner, and then with eight minutes to go Orange County was reduced to 10 men as Seth Casiple was shown his second yellow card of the night. In second-half stoppage time, however, Quinn converted from the penalty spot into the top-right corner after Las Vegas’ Jordan Murrell brought down Ray Drai in the area, wrapping up victory for the visitors.

USLChampionship.com Man of the Match

Chandler Hoffman, Orange County SC – Hoffman wrapped up a tough season in impeccable style, showing off his instincts inside the penalty area to send Orange County to a closing victory.

PITTSBURGH RIVERHOUNDS SC (2), PHILADELPHIA UNION II (1)

PITTSBURGH – Albert Dikwa scored a stoppage-time winner for Pittsburgh to keep the pressure on Hartford Athletic as the Hounds downed the Union II at Highmark Stadium. The Athletic now need a victory of their own against the New York Red Bulls II on Sunday evening to finish on top of Group F after Pittsburgh gained a two-point lead on Hartford to close out the season.

After threatening early, the Hounds took the lead in the 15th minute as Steevan Dos Santos slid a pass through that found the run of Robbie Mertz’s into the left side of the penalty area. Mertz played a clever backheel to Raymond Lee, and the wingback shot low into the right corner of the net. The Union II hit back in the 63rd minute from the penalty spot, however, as Jack McGlynn converted with a low shot to the right corner after Anges Bohui had been brought down in the penalty area by Skylar Thomas.

Pittsburgh pushed forward in search of an equalizer and almost found one through Thomas Vancaeyezeele with 13 minutes to go as his dipping free kick to the right side of the net was saved by Union II goalkeeper Ben Martino. McGlynn also threatened to put Philadelphia ahead with six minutes to go only for his effort to be blocked, but in stoppage time a corner kick from the right by Kenardo Forbes found Dikwa for a powerful downward header into the left corner of the night that grabbed all three points for the hosts.

USLChampionship.com Man of the Match

Robbie Mertz, Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC – Mertz provided a clever assist on the Hounds’ opening goal, had four key passes and completed 54 of 66 passes overall to keep Pittsburgh on the front foot for much of the game.

PHOENIX RISING FC (4), LA GALAXY II (1)

PHOENIX – Rising FC rallied from an early deficit to take victory against the Galaxy II as Sam Stanton scored twice for the hosts at Casino Arizona Field.

Los Dos grabbed an early lead in the sixth minute as Augustine Williams scored his 13th goal of the regular season with a close-range header from a fine cross by Ivan Gutierrez on the left. Phoenix quickly hit back, however, as Santi Moar scored a brilliant right-footed shot from 25 yards out into the top-right corner of the net in the 10th minute.

Stanton then put the hosts ahead in the 27th minute as a floated ball from the left by Moar was laid off with his first touch by Solomon Asante and set up nicely for the onrushing midfielder, who fired a first-time shot into the top-left corner of the net from the edge of the penalty area. Phoenix added a third six minutes into the second half as a corner from the left by Jon Bakero found Joey Farrell at the back post, and his header back across goal was redirected home by AJ Cochran.

Phoenix notched its fourth of the night in the 57th minute as Asante initially fired a shot that hit the right post, but the ball rebounded straight to Stanton to allow him to clean up the rebound. From there, Gutierrez threatened to pull a goal back late for the Galaxy II, but Rising FC comfortably saw out the victory overall ahead of its playoff opener next weekend.

USLChampionship.com Man of the Match

Sam Stanton, Phoenix Rising FC – Stanton scored a pair of goals and had three key passes while also completing 27 of 33 passes overall in a good display joining the attack from midfield.

SACRAMENTO REPUBLIC FC (4), PORTLAND TIMBERS 2 (0)

SACRAMENTO, Calif. – Republic FC put in a fine display to wrap up its regular season in winning fashion against Portland at Papa Murphy’s Park.

It took only a little over a minute for the hosts to grab the lead as Villyan Bijev stole possession from T2 goalkeeper Jake Leeker at the top of the penalty area before being pushed wide into the left side of the box. Bijev took his time and laid off a pass for Dariusz Formella to shoot low into the bottom-right corner of the net.

Formella added a second in the fourth minute as Kharlton Belmar gained possession on the right side and cut back a pass to Rodrigo Lopez near the top of the penalty area. Lopez sent one more pass on to his left as Formella arrived in the penalty area and then lifted a finish past Leeker into the right corner.

Five minutes later Sacramento continued its early onslaught as Formella this time played provider. Picking up possession on the left, Formella’s chipped pass was flicked on by Jaime Villarreal with an angled header to the right corner that looped into the back of the net. Republic FC then wrapped up the scoring in the 25th minute as Bijev got onto the scoresheet, cutting in from the right before picking out a left-footed shot into the top-left corner of the net from 25 yards that left no way back for the visitors.

USLChampionship.com Man of the Match

Dariusz Formella, Sacrameno Republic FC – Formella had two goals and one assist, scoring with both of his shots on the night, and completed 38 of 43 passes overall while winning 5 of 7 duels.

RIO GRANDE VALLEY FC (4), OKC ENERGY FC (2)

EDINBURG, Texas – The Toros capped their season with a second consecutive victory as three players found the net against Energy FC at H-E-B Park.

RGVFC took the lead in just the sixth minute as Kembo Kibato got into the right channel and cut back a low cross that was well controlled by Kyle Edwards and then fired low into the bottom-left corner of the net. Energy FC hit back in the 12th minute as Cordell Cato began and finished a move that saw him played in by Jose Hernandez for a good finish from the right side of the penalty area after the Trinidad & Tobago international had advanced play up the right side.

The Toros regained the lead for good six minutes before halftime, however, as a free kick from the right by Isidro Martinez was deflected by an Energy FC defender but went straight to Juan Carlos Azocar, who headed into the left corner of the net. RGVFC then added a third moments before halftime as Deshane Beckford got past his defender and Energy FC goalkeeper CJ Cochran before firing a shot that OKC defender Joe Amico tried to block, only for the ball to deflect off him, off the crossbar and back off Amico before going into the net for an own goal.

Juan Carlos Obregon Jr. joined Edwards in scoring his second goal in as many games in the 67th minute as after a corner kick from the right the Toros held possession in and found Obregon in the top-left part of the penalty area, from where he delivered a brilliant curling finish to the top-right corner of the net. Energy FC pulled a goal back with seven minutes to go as Jonathan Brown fired home a free kick into the top-left corner that clipped the bottom of the crossbar and went home, but that was as close as the visitors came as the Toros closed out the win.

USLChampionship.com Man of the Match

Kembo Kibato, Rio Grande Valley FC – Kibato had two assists on three key passes, completed 22 of 24 passes overall while winning 2 of 2 tackles and 5 of 8 duels defensively for the hosts.

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