USL First Division Weekend Round-Up
By Simon Fudge/whitecapsfc.com
Three more clubs earned their spots in the United Soccer Leagues First Division playoffs following the latest set of results.
Carolina RailHawks and Charleston Battery will be involved in the postseason after having their playoff places confirmed on Wednesday, while Puerto Rico Islanders earned their postseason berth over the weekend.
The action started on Wednesday, with Carolina recording a remarkable 9-0 home win over the hapless Miami FC Blues. The RailHawks were 5-0 up at halftime before Martin Rennie's side scored a further four goals in the final quarter-of-an-hour at WakeMed Soccer Park. The Blues played two-thirds of the game with ten men after midfielder Edwin Miranda was sent off.
On Thursday, Cleveland City Stars became the first USL-1 club to be eliminated from playoff contention after a 3-0 defeat at Minnesota Thunder. Marco Terminesi scored twice in the dying stages to keep the Thunder's playoff hopes alive.
Friday saw two of the league's top sides clash in South Carolina, with USL-1 leaders Portland Timbers extending their record-breaking unbeaten streak to 24 matches after a goalless draw in Charleston. The Battery were forced to play most of the match with ten men after Ian Fuller was sent off in the first half at Blackbaud Stadium following an altercation with Portland's Ryan Pore.
There were three matches on Saturday, with Puerto Rico coming from a goal down to defeat ten-man Minnesota 3-1 in the Caribbean. Former Whitecaps striker Nicholas Addlery equalized before Sean Fraser and a Cristian Arrieta penalty earned the Islanders the home win. In Texas, Austin Aztex maintained their faint hopes of reaching the playoffs with a 1-0 home win over Miami FC. Eddie Johnson's early goal gave the Aztex an important victory at Nelson Field. Meanwhile, Vancouver Whitecaps were left frustrated by a 1-1 home draw with Rochester Rhinos. Former Whitecaps midfielder Ze Roberto cancelled out Charles Gbeke's opening goal at Swangard Stadium.
The lone match on Sunday saw Carolina hold Montreal Impact to a 1-1 draw at Stade Saputo in Quebec. Former Vancouver midfielder Tony Donatelli scored for the Impact before John Cunliffe earned a point for the RailHawks with a second-half equalizer.