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Gameday Report: August 25, Week 24

By NICHOLAS MURRAY -, 08/25/18, 9:10PM EDT


Republic FC spoils 1868 FC's party with 2-1 victory; Steel FC grabs stoppage-time winner in Nashville

Photo courtesy David Calvert / Reno 1868 FC


1. Reno 1868 FC set a club-record attendance of 7,103 on the night the USL surpassed 2 million in attendance for the 2018 season, but Sacramento Republic FC spoiled the party at Greater Nevada Field as it took a 2-1 victory to solidify its place in the top four of the Western Conference. After Reno had claimed victory at Papa Murphy’s Park earlier this season before another packed house, Sacramento was able to take revenge as a pair of good second-half goals by Cameron Iwasa and Wilson Kneeshaw and a tremendous stoppage-time save by Josh Cohen to deny 1868 FC’s Zach Carroll earned the visitors and their large travelling support a happy trip home from northern Nevada.

2. Bethlehem Steel FC knew its visit to Nashville SC would be a strong litmus test of the club’s recent run of form, but in becoming just the second side to take victory at First Tennessee Park this season the visitors continues to bolster their case for a return to the USL Cup Playoffs. Thanks to Adam Najem’s stoppage-time winner – which denied Nashville a point after Justin Davis’ late equalizer – Steel FC has now claimed victory in six of its last seven contests and is pushing toward the top four in the Eastern Conference standings.

3. Penn FC came out on top in a playoff six-pointer against Ottawa Fury FC on Saturday night at TD Place as they scored in either half of a 2-0 victory that snapped the club’s six-game winless streak and pushed it back into the conversation for a place in the Eastern Conference postseason field. Former Fury FC player Paulo Junior came back to haunt his former side with the opening goal of the game in the final minute of the first half, and as hard as they tried the hosts were unable to find a response before Aaron Dennis put home Penn’s second with 10 minutes to go to seal a big victory.



LAS VEGAS – Fresno FC scored deep in stoppage time to earn a 2-2 draw with Las Vegas Lights FC at Cashman Field despite the Foxes being down to 10 men for the final 20 minutes. The Foxes took the lead in the fourth minute as Juan Pablo Caffa was played in by a clever ball by Danny Barrera into space on the left, and Caffa calmly rounded Lights FC goalkeeper Angel Alvarez and finished into the open net. Fresno almost doubled its lead nine minutes later as Zach Ellis-Hayden was denied his second goal in as many games by a sharp save from Alvarez. Las Vegas almost hit back in the 23rd minute when Raul Mendiola’s shot from the right side of the penalty area came back off the left post, while Carter Manley’s low shot to the left corner 11 minutes later produced a low save by Fresno goalkeeper Kyle Reynish as the hosts came into the game more. Mendiola got Las Vegas on level terms in the 64th minute as he produced a blistering finish to the top-left corner from 25 yards, and four minutes later the Foxes were reduced to 10 men as Ramon Martin Del Campo was sent off after a handball to deny a shot on goal, but Reynish kept out Omar Salgado’s penalty kick as he dove low to the left corner to keep the game level. Salgado went close to redeeming himself a few minutes later with a shot that Reynish tipped over the crossbar, but the Foxes’ goalkeeper couldn’t keep out a powerful strike by Rafael Garcia with four minutes to go that put Lights FC on top. Fresno struck deep in stoppage time, however, as Renato Bustamante put home a finish from Alex Cooper’s cross from the left to earn a point for the visitors at the death. Man of the Match
Alex Cooper, Fresno FC
– Cooper recorded four key passes, with the last setting up Renato Bustamante for a late equalizer that earned the Foxes a point on the road in their pursuit of a playoff berth.


RENO, Nev. – Sacramento Republic FC turned the tables on Donner Pass Derby rivals Reno 1868 FC as it took a 2-1 victory at Greater Nevada Field, avenging its defeat earlier this season on home turf. Sacramento goalkeeper Josh Cohen made a big save in the 18th minute to deny a close-range header by Reno forward Brian Brown on what was the best chance for the hosts in the first half, while Republic FC leading scorer Cameron Iwasa forced a good save at the other end by 1868 FC goalkeeper J.T. Marcinkowski eight minutes before halftime with a powerful shot from 20 yards to the right corner. Iwasa gave Republic FC the lead two minutes into the second half, however, as he headed home an angled cross by Mitchell Taintor into the right corner of the net for his 12th goal of the season. Sacramento doubled its lead on the hour-mark as Wilson Kneeshaw fired home a low finish to the right corner of the net from the top of the penalty area, only for Reno to pull a goal back from the penalty spot through Seth Casiple with 15 minutes to go after Brown was fouled in the area. 1868 FC had a late chance to equalize as Antoine Hoppenot’s shot from 20 yards went just wide of the left post in the 88th minute, and Cohen produced a spectacular save in stoppage time to keep out a dipping effort by Zach Carroll, but Sacramento held on to even the regular-season series between the clubs. Man of the Match
Josh Cohen, Sacramento Republic FC
– Cohen recorded five saves, including greats stops early on Brian Brown and late on Zach Carroll, to allow Republic FC to claim victory on the road against its regional rivals.


PHOENIX – Phoenix Rising FC pulled away in the second half on a 10-man Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC in a 4-0 victory at the Phoenix Rising Soccer Complex. Rising FC went close to taking the lead in the 27th minute as Kevaughn Frater’s header went just over the crossbar off Gladson Awako’s free kick from the left, while the Switchbacks’ best chance of the first half came to Saeed Robinson seven minutes later as his deflected shot was parried to safety by Phoenix goalkeeper Zac Lubin. Phoenix threatened inside the opening minute of the second half as Chris Cortez fired a shot from 30 yards that went just over the crossbar, while James Musa hit the crossbar after a cleverly-worked free kick that saw Awako flick a ball over the defensive wall to the onrushing midfield, only for his volleyed finish to hit the woodwork. But Colorado Springs was reduced to 10 men in the 65th minute as Jordan Burt was sent off and it didn’t take long for the hosts to take advantage as Gladson Awako scored three minutes later, tapping home from close range as Switchbacks’ goalkeeper Steward Ceus was unable to handle Shaft Brewer Jr.’s cross from the left. Rising FC doubled its lead with 14 minutes to go as Joe Farrell put home a close-range finish off a corner from the left, and Cortez added another three minutes later as he headed home Awako’s free kick, and Awako added his third assist of the night in stoppage time as he found Frater for the final goal of the night. Man of the Match
Gladson Awako, Phoenix Rising FC
– Awako had a goal and two assists while finishing the night with eight key passes as he pulled the strings in midfield and from set pieces for the hosts in a big home victory.


IRVINE, Calif. – Rio Grande Valley FC scored twice in the first half to stun Orange County SC with a 2-0 victory at Champions Soccer Stadium. Orange County’s Michael Seaton almost put the hosts ahead in the 28th minute as his shot from the right side of the penalty area took a slight deflection and went over the crossbar, but the Toros took the lead on the half-hour mark as Matias Zaldivar turned past his marker in midfield, drove in on goal and curled a shot into the bottom-right corner. Jordan Jones almost doubled the lead for the visitors 10 minutes before the break, only to be denied by a low save from OCSC goalkeeper Andre Rawls, but in first-half stoppage time Carlos Small sent home a low free kick to the right corner to put the Toros two goals up. The Toros almost added to their lead five minutes into the second half as Rawls made a pair of saves to keep out Small and Nico Perea, while Small almost found the net with a header that went just wide of the left post shortly after. Seaton went close again for the hosts with 10 minutes to go with a curling shot to the right corner that Toros goalkeeper Tyler Deric was equal to. Deric also produced a pair of excellent saves to keep out a pair of late free kicks by Aodhan Quinn, and that proved enough as the Toros walked away with their first road win of the season. Man of the Match
Tyler Deric, Rio Grande Valley FC
– Deric recorded a seven-save shutout, including some key saves late on that allowed the Toros to see out a remarkable road victory against the Western Conference contenders.


HERRIMAN, Utah – Real Monarchs SLC scored four times in the first half on the way to a 4-0 victory against the LA Galaxy II at Zions Bank Stadium. The Monarchs almost took the lead in just the third minute as Chandler Hoffman’s low shot was turned away by Galaxy II goalkeeper Eric Lopez, but in the 20th minute the hosts took the lead as Maikel Chang headed home Justin Portillo’s corner kick from the left. The Monarchs doubled their lead 12 minutes later as Charlie Adams shot home a low finish to the right corner from the top of the penalty area, and Hoffman added a third nine minutes before halftime as the striker fired home a finish into the top-left corner from 20 yards. Hoffman added his second of the night in the 40th minute as he put home a crisp first-time finish off Josh Heard’s low cross from the left side, and Chang almost followed suit in the 54th minute only for his shot to ring off the left post. Los Dos tried to get on the board in the 61st minute as Justin Dhillon’s shot was kept out by Monarchs goalkeeper Adam Grinwis, while Heard forced a good save by Lopez as Real looked to add a fifth with 15 minutes to go, but the big first-half display proved all the Monarchs needed to extend their home winning streak to 11 games. Man of the Match
Chandler Hoffman, Real Monarchs SLC
– Hoffman recorded two goals and one assist to lead Real’s big first-half performance as the hosts picked up another three points.


NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Bethlehem Steel FC became only the second side to defeat Nashville SC at home this season as Adam Najem’s stoppage-time winner earned a 2-1 victory at First Tennessee Park and a sixth win in the last seven games for the visitors. Bethlehem almost struck on a fluid counterattack in the eighth minute that saw Chris Nanco be denied by Nashville goalkeeper Matt Pickens with a smothering save, but Nanco gave the visitors the lead in the 23rd minute with a long-range strike that found the back of the net. Eight minutes later Nashville was reduced to 10 men as Ish Jome was sent off for his second yellow card, and late in first-half stoppage time Steel FC threatened again as Brenden Aaronson’s low shot from just inside the penalty area was kept out by Pickens. Nanco almost added his second of the night with a low shot that went just wide of the left post in the 63rd minute, but despite being down a man Nashville pulled a goal back with six minutes to go as Lebo Moloto played in Justin Davis for a first-time finish into the right corner of the net. Steel FC grabbed a winner in the third minute of stoppage time, however, as Najem marked his return to the side with a low finish on the rebound after Pickens had denied an initial chance by Nanco to grab all three points for the visitors. Man of the Match
Chris Nanco, Bethlehem Steel FC
– Nanco was at the center of most of Bethlehem’s good attacking play, scoring the opening goal and then having the initial chance that led to Adam Najem’s game-winner.


SAN ANTONIO – The Swope Park Rangers broke an eight-game winless streak as a pair of first-half goals earned a 2-1 victory against San Antonio FC at Toyota Field. Swope Park took the lead in just the sixth minute as a deep corner kick by Felipe Hernandez was sent back into the six-yard area and swept home from close range by Hadji Barry for his 10th goal of the season. San Antonio almost leveled from a corner kick of its own a ball back into the box after the initial deliver was cleared came to Cyprian Hedrick, whose left-footed blast was well saved by SPR goalkeeper Eric Dick, but then the Rangers doubled their lead in the 25th minute as Hernandez’s deliver was put home at close range by Amer Didic. Swope Park almost made it three within a minute of the second half, only for SAFC goalkeeper Matt Cardone to make a big save on Kharlton Belmar, and in the 54th minute Darnell King pulled back a goal for the hosts as he intercepted a pass in the attacking third and drove home a finish into the top-right corner. SAFC’s Lance Laing almost produced an equalizer just past the hour-mark as his curling shot from 20 yards was saved by Dick, and the Rangers’ goalkeeper also made a standout save to keep out Ever Guzman in the 68th minute on a close-range finish. Cardone kept San Antonio in with a chance of claiming a point with a low save that denied Barry his second of the night with seven minutes to go, but Guzman was unable to finish San Antonio’s final chance deep in stoppage time, heading wide of the left post as the Rangers took victory. Man of the Match
Eric Dick, Swope Park Rangers
– Dick recorded six saves to keep San Antonio at bay throughout the second half and allow the visitors to take a much-needed victory in their pursuit of a playoff berth.


FENTON, Mo. – Saint Louis FC held on late to take a 3-2 victory against Tulsa Roughnecks FC at Toyota Stadium – Saint Louis. Saint Louis almost struck in just the fourth minute as Wal Fall produced a good save by Tulsa goalkeeper Fabian Cerda from a free kick that was directed to the bottom-left corner, but Fall wouldn’t be denied from the ensuing corner kick by Lewis Hilton as he put home a finish at the back post. The Roughnecks almost leveled in the 10th minute as Josh Morton had his header cleared off the line by Hilton, but the hosts doubled their lead four minutes later as Hilton added a goal to his earlier assist as he slipped into the penalty area on a pass by Kyle Greig. Tulsa got a goal back in the 29th minute as Jesus Fereira scored from close range after his initial finish had gone off the left post, but Saint Louis restored its two-goal lead on Fall’s second of the night as he converted from the penalty spot in the 56th minute after Albert Dikwa was fouled in the penalty area. The Roughnecks pushed to get back into the game as Michael Gamble had a low shot saved by STLFC goalkeeper Tomas Gomez in the 62nd minute and Isaac Diaz shot just wide from his own half as he almost caught Gomez off his line two minutes later, but while the visitors pulled a goal back in stoppage time as Ferreira scored his second of the game it wasn’t enough to keep Saint Louis from taking all three points. Man of the Match
Lewis Hilton, Saint Louis FC
– Hilton recorded one goal and one assist, linked up play well with fellow standout Wal Fall in midfield and won five of six duels on the night.


ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. – A pair of penalty kicks by Emmanuel Ledesma and a staunch defensive display saw FC Cincinnati take a 2-1 victory against the Tampa Bay Rowdies at Al Lang Stadium to extend their undefeated streak to 15 games. Cincinnati took the lead in just the second minute after the Rowdies’ Afrim Taku brought down Jimmy McLaughlin in the penalty area, allowing Emmanuel Ledesma to convert from the spot. The Rowdies had a pair of chances back-to-back in the 11th minute as Sebastian Guenzatti’s shot from the top of the penalty area was punched away by FCC goalkeeper Evan Newton before Junior Flemmings’ chance deflected wide of the right post. Flemmings went close nine minutes later with a curling shot that forced a good save by Newton, while Guenzatti flashed a shot just over the crossbar in first-half stoppage time. Tampa Bay went close again six minutes into the second half as Dominic Oduro’s long-range strike was saved by Newton, but Cincinnati was reduced to 10 men just past the hour-mark as Blake Smith received his second yellow card of the game. The Rowdies leveled the contest with 15 minutes to go as Kwadko Poku scored his first goal for the club with a low shot to the left corner, but Cincinnati was awarded its second penalty kick of the night as Rowdies defender Abdoulaye Diakité was shown his second yellow card for a foul in the area, and Ledesma again converted to put the visitors back ahead. The Rowdies almost hit back immediately as Hunter Gorskie’s shot flashed just wide of the left post, and a stoppagetime chance for Tampa Bay’s Georgi Hristov slid just over the crossbar as Cincinnati held on for victory. Man of the Match
Evan Newton, FC Cincinnati
– Newton recorded five saves and two punches to help his side withstand a Rowdies side that held a 30-7 shots advantage for the contest.


OKLAHOMA CITY – OKC Energy FC took its fourth consecutive victory as it took a 3-0 win against Seattle Sounders FC 2 at Taft Stadium. Seattle threatened in the 14th minute as Shandon Hopeau forced a pair of low saves by Energy FC goalkeeper Cody Laurendi, but the hosts took the lead in the 28th minute as a powerful header by Christian Volesky off Jose Barril’s corner kick from the right gave him a goal in four consecutive contests. OKC was denied a second three minutes before halftime as S2 goalkeeper Calle Brown saved from Callum Ross on a breakaway down the left, but the hosts struck again in the 56th minute as Adam Jahn slammed home a finish after the S2 defense was unable to clear a free kick into the penalty area. Energy FC put the game away with 12 minutes to go as Barril slipped in Marco Bustos for a low finish to the right corner as the Canadian international scored his first goal for the club to wrap up all three points for the hosts. Man of the Match
Jose Barril, OKC Energy FC
– Barril recorded two assists on the night and his free kick ended up leading to Adam Jahn’s finish as the Spaniard recorded seven key passes while also winning 13 of 18 duels.


OTTAWA – Penn FC scored once in either half to take a 2-0 victory against Ottawa Fury FC at TD Place and snap a six-game winless streak in the process. Fury FC went close in the sixth minute as a free kick by Kevin Oliveira was headed just over the crossbar by David Edgar, and again three minutes later when Steevan Dos Santos’ header was cleared off the line by Penn defender Ken Tribbett. Penn’s first chance came in the 14th minute when a corner by Richie Menjivar fell for Paulo Junior, who sent his finish wide of the left post, but five minutes later Ottawa threatened again as Cristian Portilla forced a punched save by Penn goalkeeper Romuald Peiser off a free kick from the right. Penn took the lead in the final minute of the half, however, as Paulo Junior drove home a finish just inside the left post from almost 25 yards. Ottawa almost hit back two minutes into the second half as Carl Haworth’s shot was blocked by Kyle Venterm, while Peiser had to palm away an in-swinging corner by Portilla from the right that threatened to go in. Penn’s Isaac Osae almost doubled Penn’s lead with 20 minutes to go as a defensive mix-up opened a chance, but Fury FC goalkeeper Maxime Crepeau recovered and did enough to keep the chance from finding the net. The visitors added their second in the 80th minute, however, as Aaron Dennis lashed home a finish on a counterattack from the top of the penalty area which sent the visitors home with all three points. Man of the Match
Kyle Venter, Penn FC
– Venter made a crucial block to deny Ottawa an equalizer early in the second half and was solid throughout, winning 12 of 18 duels overall and winning three tackles.


CHARLESTON, S.C. – Tom Barlow scored a hat trick for the New York Red Bulls II after coming on as a second-half substitute to earn his side a point in a 4-4 draw with the Charleston Battery at MUSC Health Stadium. New York applied pressure early and had a close-range effort by Andrew Tinari go just wide of the right post, but the Battery took the lead in the 22nd minute when Ataulla Guerra finished off a quick move upfield with a lifted finish for his 13th goal of the season. The Red Bulls II tried to hit back quickly and three minutes later Ethan Kutler forced a good save by Battery goalkeeper Joe Kuzminsky with a low shot from the edge of the penalty area, but the Battery doubled their lead in the 28th minute on a diving header by Patrick Okonkwo from Nico Rittmeyer’s back-post cross from the right. Guerra almost added his second of the night 10 minutes before halftime with an angled shot that went just wide of the right post, but the Trinidad & Tobago international struck in first-half stoppage time to make it a three-goal lead for the hosts at the break. The Battery were reduced to 10 men in the 61st minute as Tah Anunga was sent off after a foul on Steven Echeverria, and the Red Bulls II pulled a goal back three minutes later from the penalty spot as Tom Barlow scored after a handball by Battery defender Jay Bolt. New York struck again in the 68th minute as Jose Aguinaga flicked home a low finish from Jared Stroud’s cross from the left, and Barlow scored his second five minutes later as he headed home at the near post from Allan Yanes’ cross. The Battery immediately regained the lead, however, as Okonkwo scored his second of the night with a headed finish from Vincenzo Candela’s corner kick from the left, but Barlow finished off his hat trick with two minutes to go as his looping header found the left corner of the net to leave the game level. Man of the Match
Tom Barlow, New York Red Bulls II
– Barlow provided the finishing in the Red Bulls II’s dramatic turnaround with his second-half hat trick as the visitors recorded a big point on the road to put toward their playoff push.


CARY, N.C. – North Carolina FC got two goals apiece from Zach Steinberger and Daniel Rios in a comprehensive 6-2 victory against the Charlotte Independence at Sahlen’s Stadium at WakeMed Soccer Park. The Independence almost struck first in the ninth minute when Caleb Calvert hit the left post after getting in behind the defense. The rebound came to teammate Yann Ekra, but NCFC’s Aaron Guillen cleared his effort off the line. Charlotte took the lead in the 24th minute when Kevan George headed home a corner into the right corner of the net, but North Carolina hit back almost immediately as Zach Steinbrenner scored on his debut for the club with a spectacular scissor-kick after his initial header had been saved. NCFC broke the game open with two goals in three minutes to start the second half as Steinberger’s big night continued. The midfielder first found Steven Miller for a simple tap-in finish with a low cross through the six-yard area in the 49th minute, and Miller then returned the favor with a cross from the left that Steinberger headed home. Daniel Rios went for a fourth for the hosts just past the hour-mark that forced a low save by Independence goalkeeper Andrew Dykstra, but Austin da Luz found space for a driven finish to the right corner from outside the penalty area to make it a three-goal lead for NCFC with just over 20 minutes to go. Rios got his 14th goal of the season with a free kick to the right corner three minutes later as NCFC began to pour it on, and then added another with 12 minutes to go as he finished from close range from Miller’s cross from the right. The Independence pulled back a consolation goal with five minutes to go as Jake Areman headed home from Mutawa Mwape’s cross, but that was all the visitors could muster as North Carolina took an impressive victory. Man of the Match
Zach Steinberger, North Carolina FC
– Steinberger first produced a standout finish to level Charlotte’s opener, then teamed up with Steven Miller to break the game open early in the second half as he finished with two goals and one assist on the night.


RICHMOND, Va. – Louisville City FC romped to a 6-0 victory against the Richmond Kickers at City Stadium to move into second place in the Eastern Conference on Saturday night. The Kickers threatened in the 21st minute when Brian Shriver curled a free kick from 20 yards toward the right corner of the net, only for Louisville goalkeeper Greg Ranjitsingh to make the save. Louisville took the lead 12 minutes later, however, as Cameron Lancaster curled home a free kick from 25 yards to the top-left corner of the net for his 16th goal of the season and four minutes later George Davis IV added a second, firing home from close range after a good piece of close control in the penalty area. Louisville’s Jose Carranza also saw a deflected shot clip off the left post and behind just before halftime, while Paolo DelPiccolo forced a good save by Kickers goalkeeper Trevor Spangenberg early in the second half. Carranza scored his first professional goal with a crisp first-time finish off a low cross by Shaun Francis in the 58th minute, and the visitors added a fourth three minutes later as Niall McCabe fired low through Spangenberg from the left side of the penalty area. Louisville added its fifth with 12 minutes to go as Luke Spencer scored his second goal in as many games, and Spencer wrapped things up with nine minutes to go with a low finish to the right corner. Man of the Match
Jose Carranza, Louisville City FC
– Carranza scored his first professional goal, hit the post with another chance and also created two chances to cap off a tidy all-around performance for the visitors.


GWINNETT, Ga. – ATL UTD 2 scored in the sixth minute of stoppage time to earn a 1-1 draw with Indy Eleven at Coolray Field as Dylan Gaither’s tally left honors even. Indy had the better of the first half overall but Atlanta came closest to finding the net as a long-range effort by Alessandro Castro from 25 yards forced a diving save by Eleven goalkeeper Owain Fon Williams just before the break. Indy took the lead eight minutes into the second half, however, as Karl Ouimette crashed home a header from Ayoze’s corner kick from the top of the six-yard area. Atlanta came close to leveling in the 71st minute when Jon Gallagher’s low finish beat Fon Williams but was cleared off the line by Indy defender Kevin Venegas, but deep in stoppage time a long ball upfield fell nicely for Gaither as Indy’s defense didn’t clear its lines and the youngster cut past the goalkeeper and finished into the open net for the equalizer. Man of the Match
Dylan Gaither, ATL UTD 2
– Brought on with 12 minutes to go, Gaither provided the decisive moment as Atlanta leveled deep in stoppage time to deny Indy victory on the road.

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