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Gameday Report: July 14, Week 18

By NICHOLAS MURRAY - nicholas.murray@uslsoccer.com, 07/14/18, 9:11PM EDT

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Fresno sweeps to 4-0 victory against Phoenix; Charleston takes win against Louisville, moves to third


Photo courtesy Kiel Maddox / Fresno FC

THREE THINGS THAT MATTERED

1. Fresno FC staked its claim as a serious playoff contender with a 4-0 victory against Phoenix Rising FC at Chukchansi Park that moved the Foxes into the top eight in the Western Conference on a night when others around them fell. Defeats for Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC and San Antonio FC added to the celebratory mood for the Foxes, who also broke Phoenix’s shutout streak at 491 minutes.

2. The Charleston Battery took their second victory of the week at MUSC Health Stadium in a 2-1 win against Louisville City FC that moved the side into third place in the Eastern Conference standings. The Battery continued their outstanding home record in the process, having gone undefeated in their last nine games on home turf while also extending the club’s current undefeated streak to six games.

3. Sacramento Republic FC’s second victory on the road this week wrapped up a big two-game trip for the side that pushed it back among the leading contenders at the top of the Western Conference. Villyan Bijev’s goal proved the difference in a 1-0 win against Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC that backed up an impressive win against the Swope Park Rangers on Tuesday night for Head Coach Simon Elliot’s side.

GAME REPORTS

FRESNO FC (4), PHOENIX RISING FC (0)

Fresno FC claimed its third consecutive victory as it swept past a 10-man Phoenix Rising FC in a 4-0 victory at Chukchanski Park. The Foxes took the lead in the 25th minute when Christian Chaney headed home a corner kick from the left by Juan Pablo Caffa, and the hosts then went up a player as Phoenix midfielder Kevon Lambert was sent off for a hard challenge in midfield on Fresno’s Ramon Del Campo. Fresno made that man-advantage tell in the second half as the side scored three goals in nine minutes, Pedro Ribeiro notching the first in the 63rd minute after cutting past a defender in the penalty area before finishing low to the left corner. Caffa added a goal to his earlier assist four minutes later with a free kick to the left corner, and Jemal Johnson added a fourth to cap the run of scoring and clinch all three points. Only a late red card to Foxes defender Zach Ellis-Hayden for a second yellow provided a damper on the night as Fresno moved into the playoff positions in the Western Conference.

USLSoccer.com Man of the Match
Juan Pablo Caffa, Fresno FC
– Caffa recorded a goal, and assist and four key passes as the Foxes avoided falling into the same trap as earlier this season when faced with a 10-man Rising FC side in Phoenix.

ORANGE COUNTY SC (3), SAN ANTONIO FC (0)

Orange County SC pulled away from San Antonio FC in a 3-0 victory at Champions Soccer Stadium. Orange County took the lead in the 33rd minute when Aodhan Quinn stole possession and set up Thomas Enevoldsen for his 10th goal of the regular season on a first-time finish from the left side of the penalty area. The hosts continued to apply more pressure, Michael Seaton forcing a low save by SAFC goalkeeper Diego Restrepo just past the hour-mark, but off the ensuing corner kick Walker Hume had his initial header blocked off the line, only for the ball to come to Quinn, who tightrope-walked the goal line on the right before a cutback for Mats Bjurman to finish put Orange County two goals up. San Antonio had difficulty finding an opening to get back into the game and all hope was extinguished in second-half stoppage time as Seaton added a third as Orange County recorded its third win in the past five games.

USLSoccer.com Man of the Match
Aodhan Quinn, Orange County SC
– Quinn provided the assists on the opening two goals, with his sharp reading of the game leading to the crucial opening breakthrough for Thomas Enevoldsen’s finish.

PORTLAND TIMBERS 2 (2), SWOPE PARK RANGERS (1)

The Portland Timbers 2 broke a four-game losing streak as first-half goals by Foster Langsdorf and Marvin Loria lifted the side to a 2-1 victory against the Swope Park Rangers at Merlo Field. Langsdorf opened the game brightly and was rewarded in the 23rd minute as he slipped home a finish from Loria’s through-ball past SPR goalkeeper Adrian Zendjas. The hosts doubled their lead in first-half stoppage time when Loria fired home from the right side of the penalty area with a first-time finish, and while the Rangers hit back in the 59th minute on a good header by Wilson Harris, T2 withstood late pressure from the visitors to hold on and gain a big boost to their playoff hopes.

USLSoccer.com Man of the Match
Marvin Loria, Portland Timbers 2
– Loria recorded a goal and assist, notched four key passes and won 15 of 20 duels over the contest to help T2 break its recent downward spiral in the Western Conference.

REAL MONARCHS SLC (2), SEATTLE SOUNDERS FC 2 (0)

Real Monarchs SLC broke a two-game winless streak as it took a 2-0 victory against Seattle Sounders FC 2 at Zions Bank Stadium to become the first side to surpass 40 points in the 2018 USL regular season. The Monarchs came out firing inside the opening minute, but while S2 forced a good save by Jake Leeker in the eighth minute on Shandon Hopeau it was Real that took the lead in the 26th minute when Charlie Adams fired home into the left corner. Seattle’s Henry Wingo forced another save from Leeker early in the second half, but the Monarchs put the game away with 20 minutes to go as Sebastian Velasquez fired a turning finish into the left corner of the net to move four points clear at the top of the Western Conference.

USLSoccer.com Man of the Match
Sebastian Velasquez, Real Monarchs SLC
– Velasquez provided a fine finish to go with a strong all-around display that saw him win 11 of 17 duels and record two key passes in addition to his goal.

COLORADO SPRINGS SWITCHBACKS FC (0), SACRAMENTO REPUBLIC FC (1)

Sacramento Republic FC took a 1-0 victory against Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC at Weidner Field to complete a stellar two-game road trip. The contest was delayed due to lightning just eight minutes in, but once the game resumed the visitors gained the upper hand in possession and chances. That led to Republic FC taking the lead in the 37th minute when Villyan Bijev put home a header from Jaime Villarreal’s free kick on the left into the right corner of the net. Bijev almost struck again just before halftime, shooting just wide of the left post, and then again in the 64th minute as Switchbacks goalkeeper Steward Ceus turned the effort just wide. Colorado Springs’ AJ Ajeakwa almost hit back for the hosts with 12 minutes to go as his shot was palmed over by Sacramento goalkeeper Josh Cohen, while recent Switchbacks addition Nicholas Amoako was also denied deep in stoppage time as Sacramento held on to take it second road victory this week.

USLSoccer.com Man of the Match
Villyan Bijev, Sacramento Republic FC
– Bijev was the biggest danger offensively for either side on the night, finishing with six shots and three key passes in addition to the only goal of the game.

RIO GRANDE VALLEY FC (2), LAS VEGAS LIGHTS FC (0)

Rio Grande Valley took just its second win of the season as it defeated Las Vegas Lights FC 2-0 at H-E-B Park. Las Vegas almost took the lead in the 12th minute when Daniel Guzman’s flicked header was saved by Toros goalkeeper Michael Nelson, but a minute before halftime the hosts went ahead as Conor Donovan fired home a long-range blast into the top-left corner. Wilmer Cabrera Jr. could have doubled the Toros’ advantage three minutes into the second half, only to chip over the crossbar after Lights FC goalkeeper Ricardo Ferriño had blocked an initial chance from Nicolas Perea. Lights FC went close to an equalizer with seven minutes to go when Marco Jaime’s header clipped the top of the crossbar, while Daigo Kobayashi sent a visit high for the visitors in the 88th minute, but in the final minute on a swift counterattack after Nelson had denied Raul Mendiola the Toros struck through Jesus Enriquez to earn their first victory since April 25.

USLSoccer.com Man of the Match
Kai Greene, Rio Grande Valley FC
– Greene won 13 of 14 duels and won four tackles to help the Toros’ defense withstand Las Vegas’ pressure to earn a second shutout victory of the season

FC CINCINNATI (2), TAMPA BAY ROWDIES (0)

FC Cincinnati got goals by Emmanuel Ledesma and Danni König as it defeated the Tampa Bay Rowdies 2-0 before a crowd of 25,416 at Nippert Stadium. Ledesma almost gave Cincinnati the lead in the 14th minute as he flashed a free kick just over the top-right corner, while the Rowdies threatened before the halftime break when Junior Flemmings had a shot saved at the left post by FCC goalkeeper Evan Newton. Cincinnati took the lead nine minutes into the second half, however, as Ledesma flicked home Corben Bone’s cross with a header to the right corner. The hosts almost added a second four minutes later when Bone rattled the crossbar from the center of the penalty area, but with six minutes to go König scored his ninth goal of the season to match Ledesma for the team-high to put away the victory for Cincinnati.

USLSoccer.com Man of the Match
Corben Bone, FC Cincinnati
– Bone put in a stellar shift in the center of midfield as he completed 53 of 62 passes, won six of nine duels and recorded a perfect assist to set up Emmanuel Ledesma’s opening goal.

CHARLESTON BATTERY (2), LOUISVILLE CITY FC (1)

The Charleston Battery moved into third place in the Eastern Conference as a pair of first-half goals earned a 2-1 victory against Louisville City FC at MUSC Health Stadium. The Battery took the lead in just the fifth minute as Ataulla Guerra scored his 10th goal of the season, putting home his own rebound after Louisville’s Greg Ranjitsingh had stopped his initial shot, and doubled their advantage as Neveal Hackshaw headed home Gordon Wild’s corner kick from the right in the 27th minute. Louisville tried to get back into the game before the halftime break as Cameron Lancaster sent a free kick toward the left corner that was saved by Battery goalkeeper Joe Kuzminsky, who also kept out an early second-half header by Patrick McMahon. The visitors got a goal back with two minutes to go on an own goal by Taylor Mueller, but the Battery held on to take a big three points.

USLSoccer.com Man of the Match
Neveal Hackshaw, Charleston Battery
– Hackshaw scored his first goal of the season to give the hosts a two-goal lead and was solid throughout as he won six of seven duels and recorded three interceptions and four clearances.

BETHLEHEM STEEL FC (1), NORTH CAROLINA FC (1)

Bethlehem Steel FC and North Carolina FC played to a 1-1 draw at Goodman Stadium as the visitors held off Steel FC to claim a point late on. North Carolina took the lead in the 22nd minute on a well-worked move that saw Daniel Rios drop off a pass for Marcel Kendzior to hit a first-time finish into the bottom-left corner of the net. The visitors held that lead until halftime, but Steel FC responded 11 minutes into the second half when Adam Najem also fired home to the left corner for his second goal of the season. Bethleham almost took the lead in the 72nd minute, only for Drew Skundrich’s shot from 14 yards to be parried away by NCFC goalkeeper Alex Tambakis, and a last-ditch effort by James Chambers was charged down by NCFC’s Graham Smith to preserve a point for the visitors.

USLSoccer.com Man of the Match
Adam Najem, Bethlehem Steel FC
– Najem scored a fine equalizer and recorded four key passes as Bethlehem looked the more threatening of the teams to take all three points on home turf.

OTTAWA FURY FC (2), PENN FC (1)

Ottawa’s Fury FC rallied from a goal down early in the second half to take a 2-1 victory against Penn FC on Saturday afternoon at TD Place. Penn had chances to take the lead late in the first half, and the visitors broke through in the 56th minute when Ken Tribbett headed home a near-post corner from the right by Richie Menjivar. Ottawa hit back with 18 minutes to go on a direct goal that saw Steevan Dos Santos flick on a long clearance by goalkeeper Maxime Crepeau that allowed Tony Taylor to lift a finish over the advancing goalkeeper and into the left side of the net, and the hosts then took the lead in the 81st minute from the penalty spot after Dos Santos converted to the left corner after being brought down in the area.

USLSoccer.com Man of the Match
Steevan Dos Santos, Ottawa Fury FC
– Dos Santos provided the assist on Tony Taylor’s equalizer before keeping his cool from the spot to give Fury FC all three points in a big win for the hosts.

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