Photo courtesy Real Monarchs SLC
1. Real Monarchs SLC stopped the bleeding in ending its three-game losing streak and returned to the top of the Western Conference after a 1-1 draw with Saint Louis FC that saw both sides have chances to take victory but have to settle for a point apiece. The Monarchs avoided suffering a fourth consecutive defeat for the first time in club history thanks to an early second-half equalizer by Jose Hernandez and moved ahead of Orange County SC on total wins, while Saint Louis edged into eighth place in the West with its road point, setting up a crucial contest on Saturday evening against the Swope Park Rangers that remains pivotal to its playoff chances.
2. Maikel Chang made history with his second-half assist for the Monarchs, which was his eighth of the season and the 30th of his career in the USL, making the Cuban playmaker the first player in the league’s modern era to reach that figure. From his time with the Charleston Battery to a successful first season with the Monarchs, Chang has consistently found ways to be creative while also showing a fine eye for goal, also adding 19 tallies to his assists, and has been consistently among the top wide players in the league over the past three seasons in which time he’s recorded 24 assists, five more than any other player in the league.
3. OKC Energy FC took the victory it had to have as it rallied past the LA Galaxy II in a 3-1 victory at StubHub Center as second-half goals by Philip Rasmussen and Alex Dixon made the difference and ended the club’s recent two-game slide. Due to Saint Louis’ draw with Real Monarchs SLC, Energy FC is now five points out of the playoff positions with four games remaining in its regular season as it heads back to Oklahoma City. The climb is still a tough one with Sacramento Republic FC visiting Taft Stadium next and a visit to face the Monarchs’ in its next three games, but OKC has given itself hope that its final game of the regular season at Saint Louis could still have something at stake for both sides.
CARSON, Calif. – OKC Energy FC rallied from an early deficit to take a 3-1 victory against the LA Galaxy II at StubHub Center Track and Field Stadium to keep its outside chance at a playoff berth alive. The Galaxy II took the lead in the 13th minute after Frank Lopez was brought down in the penalty area as he turned the corner on his marker moving in from the right side, and the Cuban converted from the spot with a low shot that caromed in off the right post for his 10th goal of the season. LA’s Efrain Alvarez sent a shot just wide of the right post five minutes later, while Emmanuel Appiah sent a long-range finish high in the 20th minute, but Energy FC almost found an equalizer just before the half-hour mark as Jose Barril forced a sharp save by Los Dos goalkeeper Eric Lopez on a low shot to the right corner. Barril pulled OKC level four minutes before halftime as the visitors transitioned quickly following a turnover with Adam Jahn providing a through-ball for Barril’s lifted finish. Energy FC almost grabbed the lead just before halftime only for Lopez to make a great kick-save to deny Jahn’s first-time finish, but with 18 minutes to go the visitors went ahead as Philip Rasmussen’s first-time finish off Kyle Hyland’s cross from the left picked out the left corner of the net. Energy FC then put the game away with nine minutes to go as Alex Dixon scored with a low finish to the right corner after being played in behind the Galaxy II defense by Callum Ross.
USLSoccer.com Man of the Match
Callum Ross, OKC Energy FC – Ross helped Energy FC gain more control in midfield after a tricky opening and ended the game having won 9 of 13 duels and having recorded five tackles and five interceptions to go with his late assist.
HERRIMAN, Utah – Maikel Chang became the first player in the USL’s modern era to reach 30 assists for his career as he set up a second-half equalizer for Real Monarchs SLC in a 1-1 draw with Saint Louis FC at Zions Bank Stadium. Saint Louis almost grabbed the lead in the fifth minute when Wal Fall’s flicked header from a corner kick went just over the crossbar, but soon after the visitors were awarded a penalty kick when Albert Dikwa was brought down in the area. Fall had his initial shot saved by Monarchs goalkeeper Jake Leeker from the spot but put away the rebound from close range. Real almost hit back in the 22nd minute when Chandler Hoffman sent his first-time finish wide of the left post from a low cross by Chang, and the Cuban winger also set up a good headed chance for Josh Heard that was saved by STLFC goalkeeper Tomas Gomez. The Monarchs struck three minutes into the second half, however, as Chang’s low ball from the right set up Jose Hernandez for his first goal of the season. STLFC almost regained the lead quickly as Lewis Hilton had a shot deflected just high and wide of the left post, while Chang almost put the Monarchs ahead in the 58th minute with a near-post finish from the right side of the area that was turned wide by Gomez. Saint Louis went close again when Dikwa sent a curling effort toward the right corner that Leeker punched away to safety, while the Monarchs’ Masta Kacher sent a shot just wide of the right post from the left side of the penalty area with 15 minutes to go. Both teams had late chances to grab all three points as Saint Louis’ Corey Hertzog sent a free kick just over and Real’s Jack Blake fired high from the top of the penalty area, but honors ended even as each side took a point.
USLSoccer.com Man of the Match
Maikel Chang, Real Monarchs SLC – Chang was dangerous throughout the contest as he finished with six key passes, including the one that set up Jose Hernandez for the Monarchs’ equalizer early in the second half.
HARRISBURG, Pa. – Penn FC took its third victory in the past four outings with a 1-0 win against Indy Eleven at FNB Field that broke Indy’s nine-game undefeated streak. Penn had a pair of early chances that saw Richie Menjivar and Aaron Dennis both just miss the target inside the opening 10 minutes, and the hosts also saw Tiago Calvano go close with a header from a corner kick in the 17th minute. Indy’s first good chance arrived just before the hour-mark as Eugene Starikov controlled well to get in behind the defense but sent his chipped finish wide of the left post. The Eleven also threatened two minutes into the second half as a low shot by Jack McInerney from 25 yards was saved by Penn goalkeeper Romuald Peiser, but Penn took the lead in the 56th minute as Paulo Junior fired home into the bottom-left corner from the right side of the penalty area as he won possession off a pass by Harri Hawkins. Penn almost doubled its lead as Paulo Junior fired a shot just wide of the left post with 11 minutes to go, while Lucky Mkosana had a near-post finish from the left side saved by Indy goalkeeper Owain Fôn Williams a minute later. Indy’s Seth Moses fired a long-range effort that was comfortably saved by Peiser a few minutes later, but the visitors were unable to find an opportunity for a late equalizer as Penn’s defense performed admirably down the closing minutes.
USLSoccer.com Man of the Match
Harri Hawkins, Penn FC – Hawkins put in a solid defensive shift for the hosts, recording two tackles, two interceptions and two clearances, wining seven of 11 duels and providing the assist on Paulo Junior’s lone goal of the game.
FINAL | 1 - 0— Penn FC (@PennFCOfficial) September 13, 2018
@TheOnlyNC_ scores the match's only goal. Penn FC takes three points against the fifth place team in the Eastern Conference to move up to 11th place and closer to the final playoff spot. #PENvIND | #ThisIsPennFC | #RUID | #USL pic.twitter.com/c79umYq5ji