Photo courtesy Em-Dash Photography / Louisville City FC
1. The duel between USL Golden Boot contenders Cameron Lancaster of Louisville City FC and Ataulla Guerra of the Charleston Battery live up to the pregame hype, but as Guerra played helper on the night for the visitors with two assists as Lancaster struck twice to move to 18 goals this season, the 2-2 draw between the sides left honors even in a highly entertaining contest at Slugger Field. Having twice taken the lead the Battery might be disappointed to not have held Louisville’s attack in check as it did in their meeting a month ago to take victory, but a strong goalkeeping display by Odisnel Cooper allowed Charleston to come away with a point as Louisville ended a disappointing week without a win to show from its two home contests.
2. The New York Red Bulls II took a crucial victory in its bid for a fourth consecutive trip to the USL Cup Playoffs on Friday night as Jared Stroud’s early goal earned a 1-0 victory against fellow playoff contender Ottawa Fury FC at MSU Soccer Park for New York’s first victory in its all-time series with the Canadian side. The Red Bulls II had numerous chances to add to its ninth-minute lead, including a penalty kick by Anatole Abang that was saved, but in earning their 10th win of the season the hosts put clear space between themselves and the chasing pack below the playoff line.
3. The result didn’t go Ottawa Fury FC’s way, but goalkeeper Maxime Crepeau showed again why he was called into Canada’s national team camp that convenes in Florida next week with a sterling display that included a penalty-kick save that kept the side in with a chance of taking something from the game. Tied for the league-lead with 12 shutouts this season, Crepeau has come into his own with Ottawa on loan from the Montreal Impact this season, taking a big step forward for club and country.
TORONTO – Lagos Kunga scored both goals as ATL UTD 2 took a 2-1 victory against Toronto FC II at Lamport Stadium. The U.S. U20 international struck in the 12th minute as he capitalized on a Toronto turnover, cutting past a defender as he moved into the penalty area before setting to find a low finish to the right corner of the net. Atlanta almost doubled its lead three minutes later as Laurent Kissiedou was denied on a low shot to the right corner by Toronto goalkeeper Caleb Patterson-Sewell, while Devon Sandoval had a point-blank shot also denied in the 21st minute. Kissiedou threatened again five minutes before halftime as his volleyed finish of a deflected cross was kept out by Patterson-Sewell, but in first-half stoppage time the visitors were reduced to 10 men when Tyler Ruthven was sent off. Being down a man didn’t deter Kunga, however, as he produced a fine dribble and finish to the top-right corner seven minutes into the second half to double Atlanta’s lead. Toronto almost pulled a goal back with nine minutes to go as Robert Boskovic sent a header off the right post from Tsubasa Endoh’s free kick, while Aidan Daniels sent a shot just over the crossbar in the final minute from 20 yards. The hosts found the net in the third minute of stoppage time as Matt Srbely fired home a low finish, but it proved to just be a consolation as time ran out on Toronto’s chances for an equalizer.
USLSoccer.com Man of the Match
Lagos Kunga, ATL UTD 2 – Kunga produced two excellent finishes in addition to recording one key pass to provide the scoring as Atlanta picked up its second victory against Toronto this season.
LOUISVILLE, Ky. – Louisville City FC and the Charleston Battery played to a 2-2 draw at Slugger Field as Charleston’s Ataulla Guerra assists on both goals for the visitors and Cameron Lancaster scored both goals for the hosts to take the lead in the race for the USL Golden Boot with 18 goals this season. The Battery took the lead in the 14th minute as Patrick Okonkwo scored his third goal in the past two games with a low finish to the right corner after getting in behind the Louisville defense off a ball by Guerra, but Lancaster bagged his 17th goal of the season four minutes later to get Louisville back on level terms. Guerra again played provider in the 21st minute as his low cross from the left into the six-yard area was met by a finish from Nico Rittmeyer to put the Battery back into the lead, but Lancaster again struck to get the hosts on level terms four minutes before halftime as he flicked home a header from Niall McCabe’s cross from the left into the right corner of the net. Louisville almost took the lead just before the halftime break as George Davis IV skipped past a pair of defenders on the right only to have his shot deflected just wide of the left post. Louisville pressed to take the lead early in the second half as McCabe had a curling shot parried wide of the right post by Battery goalkeeper Odisnel Cooper, while Sean Totsch had a shot blocked off a header from a corner that the Battery were able to clear after a scramble in the penalty area. Guerra almost grabbed the lead back for Charleston with a first-time finish from close range that Louisville goalkeeper Greg Ranjitsingh denied with 18 minutes to go, while Jay Bolt had a low shot denied after the ball deflected to the left side of the Louisville penalty area a few minutes later after a shot by Guerra. Louisville’s Oscar Jimenez almost struck in the 81st minute with a curling free kick from the right that just went wide of the left post while eluding two runners trying to apply a final touch, but neither side found a way to break the deadlock late as the points were shared.
USLSoccer.com Man of the Match
Ataulla Guerra, Charleston Battery – Guerra set up both of the Battery’s goals and twice almost put himself in position to grab a winner for the visitors as they claimed just their second draw in six visits to Slugger Field.
MONTCLAIR, N.J. – The New York Red Bulls II claimed its first victory all-time against Ottawa Fury FC in a 1-0 win at MSU Soccer Park that greatly boosted their hopes of a place in the 2018 USL Cup Playoffs. The Red Bulls II took the lead in the ninth minute as a deflected pass by Jose Aguinaga fell kindly for Jared Stroud, who slotted a low finish past Fury FC goalkeeper Maxime Crepeau. New York went close to doubling its advantage 10 minutes later as Ethan Kutler fired a powerful shot that was saved by Crepeau in the top-right corner, and Crepeau made another good save after a clever build-up set up Kutler for a powerful from the top-right corner of the penalty area soon after. Ottawa’s Tony Taylor hit the outside of the right post after a good attacking move in the 31st minute in Fury FC’s first good chance of the game, while Andrew Tinari flashed a shot just wide of the left post and Stroud had a shot from the left side of the penalty area saved by Crepeau, but New York’s one-goal lead held until halftime. Fury FC was reduced to 10 men in the 54th minute when Eddie Edward was sent off for a handball that denied Stroud a goal, but Crepeau made a diving save to keep out Anatole Abang’s penalty kick to the left corner to keep the visitors within a goal. Ottawa almost found an equalizer in the 68th minute as Carl Haworth made a superb individual run in from the right flank, only to be denied by New York goalkeeper Evan Louro. New York then had back-to-back chances as Aguinaga hit the crossbar and Tinari had a low shot smothered by Crepeau, but despite late pressure by Fury FC the early goal by Stroud held up as the winner as the Red Bulls II held on for its 10th home win of the season.
USLSoccer.com Man of the Match
Jared Stroud, New York Red Bulls II – Stroud scored the early goal, but was consistently dangerous for the hosts as he also recorded three key passes and ended the night with four shots overall.