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Gameday Report: August 22, Week 24

By NICHOLAS MURRAY - nicholas.murray@uslsoccer.com, 08/22/18, 9:17PM EDT

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Enevoldsen strikes twice, lifts Orange County past T2; Phoenix romps past San Antonio


Orange County SC's Thomas Enevoldsen scored twice - including a late game-winner - to retain the lead in the race for the USL Golden Boot with 16 goals after Wednesday night. | Photo courtesy Sam Ortega / Portland Timbers 2

THREE THINGS THAT MATTERED

1. Thomas Enevoldsen not only retained the lead on a big night in the race for the USL Golden Boot but also earned Orange County SC a big victory in a remarkable 3-2 win against the Portland Timbers 2 in a matchup that more than lived up to the pregame hype. Enevoldsen gave OCSC the early lead with his 15th goal of the season, but when Foster Langsdorf scored his 14th goal of the year for T2’s second equalizer on the night it looked like the hosts could earn a point at Merlo Field. Enevoldsen made sure the visitors took all three points – and moved himself one ahead of Louisville City FC’s Cameron Lancaster, who also had a brace on Wednesday night in a 3-0 win against the Charlotte Independence – with a tremendous volleyed finish in the 85th minute that allowed OCSC to keep pace with Real Monarchs SLC at the top of the Western standings and sent the Dane to 16 goals this season.

2. Phoenix Rising FC and San Antonio FC were both looking to break unwanted streaks, but with a 4-0 victory it was Rising FC that once again looked like a USL Cup contender as SAFC slid back further into the battle for a postseason place after a third consecutive loss. Four different players found the net for Rising FC including former San Antonio players Devin Vega and Billy Forbes. With another home test against Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC this Saturday night, Phoenix Head Coach Rick Schantz will be hoping his side can build on its first back-to-back victories since June 13-16 as it broke a seven-game run of alternating wins and losses.

3. Dylan Mares’ return to the Indy Eleven lineup for the first time since the 2016 produced a fairytale ending for the hosts as the midfielder scored the game-winner in a hard-fought 3-2 victory against Toronto FC II at Lucas Oil Stadium on Wednesday night. After being pegged back by a pair of outstanding finishes by TFC II’s Tsubasa Endoh and Jordan Hamilton after taking a two-goal lead in the first half, Indy got the three points it needed for its playoff efforts thanks to a fine run and finish by Mares early in the second that likely had Indy fans having flashbacks to his first stint with the club.

GAME REPORTS

LA GALAXY II (1), RIO GRANDE VALLEY FC (1)

CARSON, Calif. – The LA Galaxy II and Rio Grande Valley FC played to a 1-1 draw as Justin Dhillon scored a late equalizer for Los Dos at the StubHub Center Track and Field Stadium. The Toros threatened first as a long-range effort by Todd Wharton was saved by Galaxy II goalkeeper Justin Vom Steeg, while three minutes later Los Dos’ Miguel Aguilar forced a low stop by RGVFC goalkeeper Michael Nelson. The Toros took the lead in the 51st minute, however, as an angled ball to the left side eluded a Galaxy II defender and allowed Jesus Enriquez to fire home into the right corner. The Galaxy II almost leveled through Ethan Zubak with 20 minutes to go as Nelson parried away his shot to the top-right corner from the right side of the penalty area, but in the 77th minute Efrain Alvarez slid in a pass for Dhillon to hit a turning shot into the right corner to make it all square. Alvarez had a long-range effort with two minutes to go that Nelson saved comfortably as the Galaxy II looked for a winner, but the Toros almost grabbed victory on the last chance of the game when Vom Steeg produced a great save to deny a flicked header by Carlos Small over the crossbar as honors ended even.

USLSoccer.com Man of the Match
Efrain Alvarez, LA Galaxy II
– Alvarez provided a spark off the bench for Los Dos, recording the assist on Justin Dhillon’s game-tying goal and finishing with four key passes in 35 minutes in the second half.

PHOENIX RISING FC (4), SAN ANTONIO FC (0)

PHOENIX – Phoenix Rising FC swept to a 4-0 victory against San Antonio FC at the Phoenix Rising Soccer Complex to claim its first back-to-back victories since June as both Chris Cortez and Solomon Asante recorded their 12th goals of the season. The sides exchanged chances early as Phoenix’s Saad Abdul-Salaam fired a turning shot wide of the right post from 12 yards, while San Antonio FC’s missed high on a big chance off a cutback from the right from Ever Guzman. The hosts took the lead in the 18th minute, however, as Chris Cortez scored his 12th goal of the season after a sharp piece of play down the right allowed Kevon Lambert to center for a close-range finish. Solomon Asante then doubled Rising FC’s lead in the 27th minute as he took advantage of a defensive lapse by SAFC goalkeeper Diego Restrepo, and while Restrepo made a big double-save to keep out Devin Vega four minutes before halftime, Vega found Phoenix’s third in the final minute of the half as he powered home a finish into the top-left corner from 14 yards. San Antonio almost pulled a goal back early in the second half only for Rising FC goalkeeper Zac Lubin to make a big save on Omar Gordon from close range. Phoenix was reduced to 10 men when Doue Mala was sent off for his second caution in the 59th minute, but five minutes later the hosts added a fourth as Billy Forbes put home a finish to the top-left corner from just inside the penalty area.

USLSoccer.com Man of the Match
Billy Forbes, Phoenix Rising FC
– Forbes put in a strong display against his former club, capping a performance that included four shots and two key passes with the final goal of the night for Phoenix.

PORTLAND TIMBERS 2 (2), ORANGE COUNTY SC (3)

PORTLAND, Ore. – Thomas Enevoldsen scored twice, including an 85th-minute winner, as Orange County SC took a thrilling 3-2 victory against the Portland Timbers 2 at Merlo Field. Orange County took the lead in the 10th minute as the visitors broke down the right side and a low cross by Joe Amico was dummied at the near post by Aodhan Quinn to open a clear chance that Enevoldsen buried into the right corner. Portland goalkeeper Kendall McIntosh came up with a big save to keep out a powerful header by Michael Seaton off a corner kick by Quinn five minutes later, while T2 went close to leveling in the 18th minute only for Lucas Melano’s free header to go wide of the left post. Portland leveled a minute before halftime as a turnover led to Tomás Conechny finding an opening for a crisp finish. Marvin Loria almost gave Portland the lead in the 55th minute as his low finish was kept out by OCSC goalkeeper Luis Lopez, but Orange County went back in front with just over 25 minutes to go as Alex Crognale put home the rebound after Mats Bjurman’s initial finish had been parried by McIntosh. Lopez came up big again for OCSC in the 74th minute as he saved a free kick by Loria from finding the top-right corner, but Foster Langsdorf pulled the hosts level with a well-directed header into the left corner with 10 minutes to go. Enevoldsen struck for his second of the night with five minutes to go as he volleyed home a finish from a cross by Noah Powder from the left that claimed all three points for the visitors as they moved back level on points with Western Conference-leader Real Monarchs SLC.

USLSoccer.com Man of the Match
Thomas Enevoldsen, Orange County SC
– Enevoldsen scored twice, including the late game-winner, as the visitors took a fourth consecutive victory and extended their undefeated streak to eight games.

CHARLOTTE INDEPENDENCE (0), LOUISVILLE CITY FC (3)

MATTHEWS, N.C. – Louisville City FC claimed its first victory under new Head Coach John Hackworth as Cameron Lancaster scored twice in a 3-0 victory against the Charlotte Independence at the Sportsplex at Matthews. Louisville took the lead from the penalty spot in the 13th minute as Lancaster converted after being brought down by Independence goalkeeper Andrew Dykstra in the area. George Davis IV forced a low save by Dykstra as Louisville looked to add to its lead soon after, but Lancaster struck for his second of the night just before the half-hour mark with a turning finish from 20 yards into the bottom-left corner of the net. Lancaster almost had his third of the night in the 40th minute as his low shot was saved by Dykstra, and the English forward hit the crossbar in the 54th minute with a curling finish to the top-right corner that was inches away from finding the net. Louisville’s Luke Spencer added the third in the 65th minute, however, as he found space on the breakaway on a quick transition pass by James Sands and finished low past the advancing Dykstra, and that wrapped up all three points for the visitors in a dominant road display.

USLSoccer.com Man of the Match
Cameron Lancaster, Louisville City FC
– Lancaster scored twice to take the lead in the race for the USL Golden Boot, and could have had more if not for the woodwork in a fine team performance.

INDY ELEVEN (3), TORONTO FC II (2)

INDIANAPOLIS – Indy Eleven was made to work by Toronto FC II but came away with a 3-2 victory at Lucas Oil Stadium to move the club’s undefeated streak to five games. Toronto went close to taking the lead in the 10th minute when Jordan Hamilton curled a shot just high and wide of the top-right corner from 14 yards, but the hosts took the lead eight minutes later as Ben Speas got in behind the TFC II defense and finished calmly. Jack McInerney doubled Indy’s lead in the 24th minute as a loose ball fell to him in the penalty area for a shot to the left corner, but then Toronto pulled a goal back five minutes later as Tsubasa Endoh curled home a free kick from 20 yards to the top-left corner. TFC II got on level terms in the 34th minute as Hamilton powered home a finish to the bottom-left corner from 30 yards that left things all square at the break. Indy regained the lead in the 58th minute as Dylan Mares struck on his return to the side as he curled home a shot to the right corner after a driving run from midfield. Toronto had a late chance with six minutes to go to find an equalizer as Matt Srbely had a back-post header that he couldn’t put on goal, but Indy saw out the victory to move three points closer to a place in the postseason.

USLSoccer.com Man of the Match
Dylan Mares, Indy Eleven
– Mares put in a solid 73-minute shift in his return to the Eleven, winning four of six duels and recording four interceptions on top of his game-winning goal in the 58th minute.

PITTSBURGH RIVERHOUNDS SC (1), TAMPA BAY ROWDIES (1)

PITTSBURGH – The Tampa Bay Rowdies got a second-half equalizer from Junior Flemmings in a 1-1 draw with Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC at Highmark Stadium. The Rowdies had the first good look on goal in the seventh minute as a knockdown header in the penalty area found Georgi Hristov, whose finish from 12 yards was comfortably saved by Hounds goalkeeper Mike Kirk. Pittsburgh went close around the half-hour mark as Christian Francois fired a shot just over the crossbar from the top of the penalty area, but the Hounds took the lead in first-half stoppage time as Mouhamed Dabo drove home a first-time strike from 25 yards into the bottom-right corner for his first goal for the club. Tampa Bay leveled with 18 minutes to go, however, as Junior Flemmings capitalized on a defensive mistake to clip home his fifth goal of the season. Pittsburgh almost struck for a late winner as Francois curled a low shot from the left side of the penalty area just wide of the right post, but honors ended even for the second time this season between the sides.

USLSoccer.com Man of the Match
Junior Flemmings, Tampa Bay Rowdies
– Flemmings had the desired impact off the bench for the visitors, scoring the goal that allowed Tampa Bay to take a point from its trip to Highmark Stadium.

ATL UTD 2 (1), FC CINCINNATI (5)

GWINNETT, Ga. – Nazmi Albadawi led the way for FC Cincinnati with a pair of goals in a 5-1 victory against ATL UTD 2 at Coolray Field. Cincinnati took the lead in the 18th minute as a deflected shot by Corben Bone from just inside the penalty area wrongfooted Atlanta goalkeeper Mitch Hildebrandt and span into the left side of the net. The visitors doubled their lead seven minutes later as Albadawi fired a low shot into the left corner from the right side of the penalty area. Atlanta had a chance to answer in the 33rd minute as Devon Sandoval turned on a low cross well, only for FCC goalkeeper Spencer Richey to make a good save, while Jon Gallagher fired just wide of the right post four minutes before halftime as the hosts threatened again. Cincinnati added to its lead in the 53rd minute as Fatai Alashe put home the rebound after Hildebrandt had made a close-range save on Albadawi, while Albadawi made it four two minutes later as he was left unmarked to put home a first-time finish after Emery Welshman had driven into the left side of the penalty area. Atlanta pulled a goal back through Travis Nicklaw with a beautiful bent finish to the top-right corner from 30 yards, but Welshman wrapped up the victory with three minutes to go as Cincinnati’s undefeated streak reached 14 games.

USLSoccer.com Man of the Match
Nazmi Albadawi, FC Cincinnati
– Albadawi scored a pair of good goal, and helped set up FCC’s third with the initial close-range shot that led to Fatai Alashe’s rebound finish, as he consistently found pockets of space in the penalty area.

BETHLEHEM STEEL FC (2), OTTAWA FURY FC (0)

BETHLEHEM, Pa. – Santi Moar scored both goals as Bethlehem Steel FC took a 2-0 victory against fellow Eastern Conference playoff contender Ottawa Fury FC on Wednesday evening at Goodman Stadium. Steel FC took the lead in the 16th minute when Marcus Epps released Moar on a counterattack into the left channel and the Spanish winger lifted a good finish past advancing Fury FC goalkeeper Maxime Crepeau. Moar struck again just past the half-hour mark, this time from the penalty spot as he buried a finish after Ottawa’s Thomas Meilleur-Giguere was whistled for a handball in the penalty area. Fury FC almost pulled a goal back in the 68th minute as a header by David Edgar was parried over the crossbar by Steel FC goalkeeper John McCarthy, and the visitors were denied again with two minutes to go as Meilleur-Giguere slid a close-range finish just past McCarthy only for Josh Yaro to make a sliding goal line clearance to keep out the chance. Bethlehem saw out the victory, however, to continue its surge toward a postseason return.

USLSoccer.com Man of the Match
Santi Moar, Bethlehem Steel FC
– Moar scored both goals and looked dangerous otherwise as he led his side to a big victory in the race for a place in the postseason.

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