USL First Division Weekend Round-Up


By Simon Fudge/whitecapsfc.com

Carolina RailHawks remain the early pacesetters in the United Soccer Leagues First Division after recording a third-straight victory to start the 2009 season.

There were also a first win in franchise history for USL-1 expansion club Austin Aztex, while Rochester Rhinos and Vancouver Whitecaps also earned their first maximum points of the new campaign.

The action began on Tuesday night in the Texas state capital, as Gifton Noel-Williams canceled out Marco Reda's first-half goal in Austin's 1-1 draw with the Whitecaps at Nelson Field.

There were three matches on Friday, with Charleston Battery claiming a third-straight draw to start the year after a 1-1 result at home to Minnesota Thunder. A Tsuyoshi Yoshitake penalty canceled out Leonel Saint-Preux's opening strike for the Thunder. In South Florida, early second-half goals by Diego Serna and Leo Inacio Nunes gave Miami FC Blues a surprising 2-1 victory over Montreal Impact. Former Whitecaps striker Eduardo Sebrango struck Montreal's consolation goal. In the Caribbean, Puerto Rico Islanders were left frustrated by a goalless home draw with Rochester Rhinos.

Saturday was a memorable night for the Aztex, as two goals by Eddie Johnson earned Austin their first-ever win in the league after a convincing 3-0 home result over fellow USL-1 new boys Cleveland City Stars. Meanwhile in Vancouver, captain Martin Nash repeated his heroics of last season against Portland Timbers by striking a fine winning goal in the Whitecaps 1-0 victory over their Pacific Northwest rivals at Swangard Stadium.

On Sunday, the RailHawks went three points clear at the top of the USL-1 standings after a 1-0 home win over Minnesota. Brian Plotkin's second-half strike meant the Thunder remained winless after their opening four league matches. Miami FC remain second in the table after suffering a 2-1 home defeat versus Rochester. Two first-half goals by Johnny Menyongar earned the Rhinos their first win of the season.