USL Weekend Round Up
After missing the postseason in 2006, Brian Schmetzer’s side made sure of a first-place finish after taking maximum points in their final two games. It was one of several issues that were determined in the final week of 2007 USL-1 regular season campaign, with the playoffs now set to begin on Friday.
The final week’s action started last Wednesday night in Montreal, as the Impact tried to keep their hopes of a first-place finish alive with a 1-0 win over Atlanta Silverbacks. The game was the last regular-season contest to be played at the Claude Robillard Sports Complex, as the Impact will be moving into a new stadium next season.
There were two eventful games on Thursday evening. Carolina RailHawks had their playoff destiny in their own hands, but after an eventful US Open Cup semifinal defeat at Major League Soccer side New England Revolution on Tuesday night, Scott Schweitzer’s side dramatically succumbed to a 5-0 defeat at Minnesota Thunder. Leo Gibson scored four of the Thunder’s goals at James Griffin Stadium. In Seattle, the Sounders edged closer to finishing at the summit of USL-1 with a convincing 4-0 win over last-place California Victory. French striker Sebastian Le Toux scored a hat-trick for the Washington State club at Qwest Field.
Two more playoff issues were settled on Friday evening. Charleston Battery joined California and Minnesota in missing the 2007 postseason after being held to a goalless home draw by Puerto Rico Islanders in their final regular-season game. In Vancouver, Atlanta secured a fourth-place finish after claiming a late 1-1 draw with the Whitecaps.
On Saturday night, the Silverbacks playoff opponent was determined, as Rochester Raging Rhinos wrapped fifth place with a 2-0 win over Montreal Impact at PAETEC Park. Defeat for Montreal saw Nick De Santis’ side end their regular season in third place. Meanwhile, in San Francisco, Carolina recovered from their midweek defeat in Minnesota to claim the last playoff spot in USL-1 with a 2-0 away win over California.
There were two important matches played on the final day of the regular season on Sunday. Seattle got an early goal from Leighton O’Brien and a 13th clean sheet of the season from goalkeeper Chris Eylander (pictured), as the Sounders claimed a 1-0 victory at Minnesota and top spot in the USL-1 standings. In Vancouver, Portland Timbers set up a first-round playoff tie with the Whitecaps after claiming a goalless draw at Swangard Stadium. Portland finished second in the standings as a result, while Vancouver had settle for seventh place.
With the regular season now at an end, the four first-round playoff ties sees Seattle (1st place) taking on Carolina (8th place), Portland (2nd place) facing Vancouver (7th place), Montreal (3rd place) meeting Puerto Rico (6th place), and Atlanta (4th place) clashing with Rochester (5th place). First leg ties will be played on Friday evening, while the second leg games take place next Sunday night.