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Gameday Report: September 1, Week 25

By NICHOLAS MURRAY - nicholas.murray@uslsoccer.com, 09/01/18, 9:08PM EDT

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Adi strikes late as FCC rallies past Pittsburgh; Arboleda lifts T2 in stoppage time


Photo courtesy Brett Hansbauer / FC Cincinnati

THREE THINGS THAT MATTERED

1. Fanendo Adi’s first goal for FC Cincinnati moved the side into the 2018 USL Cup Playoffs for a third consecutive season as the hosts rallied in the final 10 minutes to defeat Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC 2-1 before a crowd of 25,735 fans at Nippert Stadium. The combination of FCC's victory and North Carolina FC's defeat earlier in the evening left Cincinnati guaranteed a top-eight finish in the Eastern Conference. Adi had been foiled in his previous outings for the side, including chances in the club’s last home game against the Charleston Battery that just went astray, but with his low finish to the right corner in the 88th minute he lifted the hosts to victory, a 16-game undefeated streak and a strong hold in the lead for the USL Regular Season Championship.

2. A season ago, the Portland Timbers 2 would have fallen victim to the type of ending that marked its contest with Saint Louis FC. This year, T2 has flipped the script and on Saturday night took another big step toward its first berth in the USL Cup playoffs as Victor Arboleda’s goal in the 93rd minute gave the hosts a 1-0 win to move into fifth place in the Western Conference. Saint Louis had the upper hand for much of the game, with T2 only recording its first shot on goal with five minutes to go in the second half. Thanks to some sturdy goalkeeping by Kendall McIntosh, though, Portland stayed in the game long enough for Arboleda to provide a telling finish that produced a big three points.

3. The Tampa Bay Rowdies produced one of their best performances of the season as they kept their playoff hopes alive with a 3-0 victory against North Carolina FC at Sahlen’s Stadium at WakeMed Soccer Park, their second victory on the road at NCFC this season. Any lingering disappointment from a week ago had clearly evaporated as the front duo of Sebastian Guenzatti and Junior Flemmings lit up the night, with Guenzatti scoring his first three goals of the season to claim a hat trick inside the opening hour as Flemmings set up the first two finishes. The Rowdies still have a steep hill to climb, but they took a big first step on Saturday night. 

GAME REPORTS

LA GALAXY II (3), COLORADO SPRINGS SWITCHBACKS FC (1)

CARSON, Calif. – Ariel Lassiter scored a pair of goals as the LA Galaxy II took a 3-1 victory against Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC at Stubhub Center Track and Field Stadium. The Switchbacks took the lead in the 11th minute when Mason Toye got in behind the Galaxy II defense, cut past a defender and finished low past Galaxy II goalkeeper Eric Lopez. Los Dos hit back with two goals in three minutes, however, the first in the 27th minute when Geoffrey Acheampong’s floated ball from the left to the right side of the six-yard area was headed home by Tomas Hilliard-Arce. The hosts then took the lead as a clever give-and-go by John Requejo with Adrian Vera set up a chance for the left back that was saved, but the rebound fell to Lassiter to finish into the left corner. Colorado Springs almost leveled things in the 36th minute only for Lopez to make a good low save on Saeed Robinson, while the Galaxy II’s Efrain Alvarez had a free kick from 30 yards tipped over the crossbar by Switchbacks goalkeeper Moise Pouaty in first-half stoppage time as the hosts looked to add to their lead. The third goal arrived 11 minutes into the second half as Lassiter and Alvarez linked up for Lassiter’s second of the night on a low finish to the left corner from 12 yards, and the Galaxy II almost added another in the 70th minute as Didie Traore’s low shot was just turned wide of the right post by Pouaty. Lassiter was denied a hat trick on a breakaway by Pouaty with three minutes to go, but the hosts closed out the victory to put another serious dent in Colorado Springs’ postseason hopes.

USLSoccer.com Man of the Match
Ariel Lassiter, LA Galaxy II
– Lassiter scored twice for Los Dos as he finished the night with five shots on target and also recorded two interceptions defensively, putting the Switchbacks under pressure throughout.

PORTLAND TIMBERS 2 (1), SAINT LOUIS FC (0)

PORTLAND, Ore. – Victor Arboleda scored in the third minute of second-half stoppage time as the Portland Timbers 2 grabbed a 1-0 victory against Saint Louis FC at Providence Park. Saint Louis almost took the lead in the 33rd minute when Michael Cox had a near-post finish from the right side of the penalty area turned wide by Portland goalkeeper Kendall McIntosh. The visitors threatened again twice just before the break as McIntosh turned away a free kick by Lewis Hilton that was headed to the top-right corner, while Cox almost scored from close range, a combination of McIntosh and Portland midfielder Andre Lewis keeping the ball from crossing the line off a corner. Cox went close again 11 minutes into the second half as he clipped a finish high of the crossbar after a low cross by Albert Dikwa from the right, while Joey Calistri had a shot blocked behind from the left side of the penalty area in the 66th minute. Portland recorded its first shot on goal with five minutes to go as Marvin Loria’s low finish was comfortably saved by STLFC goalkeeper Tomas Gomez, while Dikwa fired just over the crossbar from 16 yards moments later, but the hosts grabbed a big three points deep in stoppage time as a through-ball by Renzo Zambrano saw Arboleda time his run perfectly and send a first-time finish past Gomez to claim victory for Portland.

USLSoccer.com Man of the Match
Victor Arboleda, Portland Timbers 2
– Arboleda made a big impact after coming on as a substitute in the 64th minute and was rewarded with a dramatic game-winner that pushed Portland closer to a first playoff berth. 

FRESNO FC (1), RENO 1868 FC (1)

FRESNO, Calif. – Fresno FC and Reno 1868 FC played to a 1-1 draw at Chukchansi Park as Juan Pablo Caffa scored a second-half equalizer for the hosts. Reno took the lead in the 12th minute as Brian Brown scored his 13th goal of the season with a sharp volleyed finish from the right side of the penalty area from Duke Lacroix’s cross from the left. Fresno’s Christian Cheney had a chance to equalize three minutes later but snapped his shot wide of the left post from 15 yards, while Reno goalkeeper J.T. Marcinkowski made a solid save to keep out a free kick by Caffa in the 22nd minute. 1868 FC almost added to its lead just past the half-hour mark as his finish went just wide of the left post after he got in behind the Fresno defense, while Fresno threatened again through Cheney eight minutes into the second half with a low shot that was saved by Marcinkowski. The Foxes got on level terms in the 67th minute as Caffa put home a first-time finish from the left side of the penalty area after a chipped through-ball by Danny Barrera, and then needed a pair of big late saves to hold on for a draw as Kyle Reynish made a diving save first on Mo Thiaw’s curled finish to the right post and then on the ensuing corner to keep out a powerful header by Brent Richards in stoppage time as honors ended even.

USLSoccer.com Man of the Match
Kyle Reynish, Fresno FC
– Reynish was sharp throughout the contest, finishing with four saves including a couple of crucial stops late to preserve a draw for the hosts.

CHARLOTTE INDEPENDENCE (1), NASHVILLE SC (0)

MATTHEWS, N.C. – The Charlotte Independence took a 1-0 victory against Nashville SC at the Sportsplex at Matthews to keep their postseason hopes alive. Both teams had headed chances early as Nashville’s Tucker Hume’s diving effort off Alan Winn’s cross from the right flew just high in the eighth minute, while Charlotte’s Alex Martinez had his effort comfortably saved by Nashville goalkeeper C.J. Cochran three minutes later. Nashville twice almost took the lead around the 18th minute as Lebo Moloto had a shot turned onto the left post by Charlotte goalkeeper Brandon Miller before Tucker Hume had a header cleared off the line by Sam Vines on a follow-up chance before Miller gathered. Vines then set up the opening goal of the night in the 25th minute as his corner from the left was met by a volleyed finish from Jamaican international Je-Vaughn Watson to the right corner to put the Independence ahead. Nashville almost leveled in the 65th minute as Hume’s shot from the right side of the penalty area was parried away by Miller, while Bolu Akinyode headed wide of the right post from a corner kick by Michael Reed seven minutes later. The game was delayed by lightning in the 82nd minute, but upon the resumption Nashville pushed again for an equalizer as Brandon Allen’s header went just wide of the left post. Charlotte was reduced to 10 men in the final minute as Kevan George was shown his second yellow card of the game, but the Independence held on defensively to claim a big three points.

USLSoccer.com Man of the Match
Sam Vines, Charlotte Independence
– Vines provided the assist on the lone goal of the game, finished with three key passes and completed 30 of 37 passes overall in a solid midfield display.

FC CINCINNATI (2), PITTSBURGH RIVERHOUNDS SC (1)

CINCINNATI – Fanendo Adi scored a late winner as FC Cincinnati rallied to a 2-1 victory against Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC before a crowd of 25,735 at Nippert Stadium. Pittsburgh got a good look in the 13th minute as a loose pass in midfielder allowed Kenardo Forbes to break forward, but his tight-angle shot from the right was saved by FCC goalkeeper Spencer Richey. The visitors threatened again three minutes later as Romeo Parkes’ curled effort from 25 yards went just wide of the right post, while Cincinnati’s Emmanuel Ledesma almost struck in the 27th minute as he got his finish past Riverhounds SC goalkeeper Michael Kirk but not out of the reach of defender Joe Greenspan, who made a decisive clearance before the ball bounced over the line. Richey made a pair of big stops at the other end to keep the game scoreless, first tipping a shot by Jordan Dover just over the crossbar from the right side of the penalty area, and then making a big kick-save on Kay Banjo’s deflected shot from 10 yards. Banjo then had the chance to put the Hounds ahead after being brought down for a penalty kick five minutes into the second half, only to send his shot over the crossbar to leave the game scoreless, but the Hounds hit the front in the 57th minute when Parkes fired home from 12 yards on a cutback by Forbes from the left side of the penalty area. Cincinnati almost hit back with 14 minutes to go when a cross by Jimmy McLaughlin from the right found Adi at the back post, only for Adi’s header to hit the side-netting, but with 10 minutes to go the hosts found an equalizer as Emmanuel Ledesma’s free kick was headed home by Dekel Keinan from close range. Pittsburgh almost regained the lead two minutes later as Neco Brett forced a good low save by Richey and then fired high with a first-time effort on the rebound, while FCC’s Nazmi Albadawi had a shot blocked on a counterattack by Hounds defender Hugh Roberts as both teams pushed for a winner. That winner arrived in the 88th minute through Adi, who cut into the penalty area and shot home a low finish to the right corner for his first goal for Cincinnati.

USLSoccer.com Man of the Match
Spencer Richey, FC Cincinnati
– Richey recorded four great saves to help keep Cincinnati in the game prior to the late comeback by the hosts in a sterling performance overall.

NORTH CAROLINA FC (0), TAMPA BAY ROWDIES (3)

CARY, N.C. – Sebastian Guenzatti had a hat trick to lead the Tampa Bay Rowdies to a 3-0 victory against North Carolina FC at Sahlen’s Stadium at WakeMed Soccer Park. North Carolina had the better of the game early, but the Rowdies took the lead on a good counterattack in the 23rd minute as Junior Flemmings got into space down the right and found Guenzatti, who put home a clever lifted finish from close range. NCFC almost answered immediately only for Rowdies goalkeeper Daniel Vega to smother a chance for Zach Steinberger on the right side of the penalty area, while Tampa Bay’s Tarek Morad headed just over off a free kick by Joe Cole and Steinberger headed over on opportunities at either end in the final 15 minutes of the half. The hosts also went close as Kyle Bekker fired a low shot from the top of the penalty area that Vega did just enough to turn wide of the left post in the 42nd minute, but a minute later Flemmings and Guenzatti connected again as the Jamaican’s curled cross to the top of the six-yard area was pinged home by Guenzatti for a two-goal halftime lead. Guenzatti completed his hat trick 11 minutes into the second half, this time with Leo Fernandes playing provider, as he tapped home from close range after Fernandes had driven forward down the left after a clearance by Vega. Guenzatti also had a chance at a fourth after a good through-ball by Kwadwo Poku, only for NCFC goalkeeper Alex Tambakis to make a low save. North Carolina applied pressure to try and get back into the game in the final 15 minutes. Vega had to palm away a chipped effort by Austin da Luz in the 79th minute and Steinberger headed just wide of the right post eight minutes later, but the Rowdies held firm to pick up a big three points to get their push for the playoffs headed in the right direction.

USLSoccer.com Man of the Match
Sebastian Guenzatti, Tampa Bay Rowdies
– Guenzatti’s first three goals of the season couldn’t have come at a better time for the Rowdies as they picked up a crucial road victory.

INDY ELEVEN (1), RICHMOND KICKERS (1)

INDIANAPOLIS – Indy Eleven and the Richmond Kickers exchanged a pair of first-half goals as they played to a 1-1 draw before a crowd of 11,334 at Lucas Oil Stadium. The Kickers took the lead in the fifth minute as Raul Gonzalez fired home a first-time finish from the center of the penalty area off a low cross from the left by Austin Yearwood, but the hosts hit back nine minutes later as Dylan Mares scored his second goal for the Eleven on a low shot from the left that Richmond goalkeeper Trevor Spangenberg was unable to handle as it skipped through the penalty area. Spangenberg produced a good save just past the half-hour mark as Indy’s Soony Saad fired a turning shot that was tipped over the crossbar, while Indy had a chance to take the lead just past the hour-mark as Jack McInerney was unable to turn Mares’ knockdown header on target from the right side of the six-yard area. McInerney fired just over the crossbar on a free kick with seven minutes to go, but neither side found a decisive finish late as Indy recorded its third consecutive draw.

USLSoccer.com Man of the Match
Mekeil Williams, Richmond Kickers
– Williams helped limit Indy’s attack to only four shots on goal as he recorded three interceptions, two tackles and six clearances for the visitors.

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