USSF D-2 Pro League Round-Up
By Simon Fudge/whitecapsfc.com
Pacific Northwest rivals Portland Timbers and Vancouver Whitecaps FC lead their respective conferences following the latest weekend of action in the USSF D-2 Pro League.
With a move to Major League Soccer on the horizon for both clubs, both the Timbers and Whitecaps maintained their undefeated starts to the season, while USL Conference club Puerto Rico Islanders have a 100 per cent record after claiming two wins over the weekend.
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Action started on Wednesday, with Puerto Rico starting their league season in fine fashion with a 3-1 win at home to USL Conference rivals NSC Minnesota Stars. Early goals by Englishman David Foley and Trinidad & Tobago international Osei Telesford set the Caribbean-based club on their way to victory, with Liberian midfielder Sandy Gbandi scoring the Islanders' third goal shortly after the break at the Juan Ramon Loubriel Stadium.
On Thursday night, Portland claimed their second win of the season following a comfortable 3-0 victory at home to Athletic Club of St. Louis. Ryan Pore scored Portland's winner just 19 seconds into the match at PGE Park before doubling the Timbers' lead in time added on at the end of the first half. O.J. Obatola then registered his first goal for the Oregon-based outfit to secure all three points.
There were three matches on Saturday, with Minnesota winning their home opener with a 1-0 victory over Tampa Bay Rowdies. Chinese midfielder Leilei Gao scored Minnesota's winner from the penalty spot in the first half after Tampa Bay's Gordon Kljestan was sent off for elbowing Andres Arango in the Rowdies box. In Maryland, meanwhile, Puerto Rico Islanders made it two wins from two after a 3-1 victory over struggling Crystal Palace Baltimore. Former Whitecaps striker Nicolas Addlery gave the Islanders the lead before another ex-Vancouver forward in Josh Hansen struck twice for Puerto Rico at the University of Maryland Baltimore County (UMBC) Stadium. On the west coast, the Whitecaps recorded a third-straight clean sheet after a 1-0 home win over winless NASL Conference rivals AC St. Louis. French defender Mouloud Akloul scored the winner on his Vancouver debut at Swangard Stadium, although the centre back now faces a lengthy spell on the sidelines after suffering an ankle injury just moments after scoring.
The two matches on Sunday saw Montreal Impact claim a 1-1 draw in their home opener versus Portland at Stade Saputo. Nevio Pizzolitto's late penalty cancelled out Ryan Pore's second-half goal for the Timbers in Quebec. Portland remain undefeated following the draw, while the Impact have yet to win their first league match. In Texas, Bob Lilley recorded his first league win as Rochester Rhinos head coach after a 2-1 victory over Austin Aztex. Goals by Andrew Hoxie and Anthony Hamilton meant the Aztex fell to defeat for the first time this season.