USL First Division Weekend Round-Up
By Simon Fudge/whitecapsfc.com
Portland Timbers saw their record-breaking single-season unbeaten streak come to an end during the latest round of action in the United Soccer Leagues First Division.
Gavin Wilkinson's side saw their remarkable run end at 24 matches, with the Oregon club still needing to do some work to ensure the USL-1 regular season title. Montreal Impact had productive week after claiming two victories, while Miami FC Blues remained alive in their hunt for a playoff spot.
The action started on Wednesday, with the league's two Canadian clubs in action. In Quebec, an early goal from Leonardo Di Lorenzo gave Montreal a vital 1-0 home win over Carolina RailHawks. Carolina head coach Martin Rennie and Impact captain Nevio Pizzolitto were both ejected from the match by referee Paul Ward. In Vancouver, meanwhile, two goals by Charles Gbeke helped the Whitecaps to a 3-2 home win over Austin Aztex, with defeat for the USL-1 expansion club eliminating them from playoff contention.
The lone match on Thursday turned some heads throughout the league, as Portland suffered their first loss at home this season after a 2-1 setback to Rochester Rhinos at PGE Park. Errol McFarlane's late goal brought Portland's unbeaten run to an end.
On Friday, Minnesota Thunder's hopes of making the playoffs all but ended after a 1-1 draw at home to Vancouver. Substitute Melvin Tarley cancelled out Marcus Haber's opening goal at the National Sports Center Stadium, but Minnesota needed all three points to stay alive for the postseason.
There were two matches on Saturday, with Montreal extending their unbeaten run to five matches after a 2-1 away win over Cleveland City Stars. Roberto Brown scored twice for the Impact in Ohio. In South Florida, Miami FC came from a goal down to defeat Austin 3-1 at Florida International University Stadium. Leo Inacio Nunes, Alen Marcina, and Aaron King scored for Zinho's Blues, who remain within reach of the final postseason berth in the USL-1 standings.
On Sunday, Minnesota stunned the high-flying Charleston Battery 3-1 in South Carolina. Two goals by Lawrence Olum helped the Thunder overcome a one-goal deficit at Blackbaud Stadium. Charleston's defeat allowed Puerto Rico Islanders to leapfrog them in the standings with a 2-0 home win over Rochester in Sunday's other contest. Second-half goals from Dan Gargan and Sandy Gbandi helped the Caribbean club move up one spot in the league table.