The Vancouver Whitecaps were nine games into the season and had posted a two-goal game only once. On the strength of a defense that had posted seven shutouts, however, the 2006 league champions had risen to the top of the table heading into last week's action -- a spot that seems to have finally sparked the offense. With the Charleston Battery knocking on the door for first, the Whitecaps burst out with a 3-1 victory over rival Portland Saturday night.
The Timbers came into the contest off a scoreless draw at home against Minnesota Thursday, giving them an opportunity to slip past their hosts Saturday with a win that would have avenged an earlier season 1-0 loss at home to Vancouver. Eight minutes in, Timbers captain Andrew Gregor sent a free kick into the Vancouver box, finding Bryan Jordan, on loan from the L.A. Galaxy, at the far post. The Portland striker swung a cross back across the face of the Whitecaps goal, where an unmarked Scot Thompson was on hand to head home.
The Whitecaps would find their attack in a second-half rally, beginning in the 54th minute when substitute Jason Jordan took Omar Jarun's cross on his chest before turning and beating former Vancouver defender Justin Thompson in the Portland box. The striker's low drive then struck the far post and came out to hit a sprawling Timbers goalkeeper Jordan James before Eduardo Sebrango pounced on the loose ball to knock it home.
Justin Moose's free kick in the 66th from the left saw Timbers substitute Tim Karalexis head his clearance out to Martin Nash near the edge of the Portland box. The Whitecaps captain lined up a fine first-time shot that flew past James and into the far corner of the goal.
As the match was coming to a close, a Vancouver counter-attack saw Sebrango cross the ball over to substitute Alfredo Valente at the far post. He took his time before striking the Whitecaps' third goal of the game in time added on. It was the first time since May of 2007 that the Whitecaps had netted three at home in league play.
USL First Division
Wednesday, June 4
Miami FC Blues 0 at Montreal Impact 0
For the third consecutive league match in their new home, the Impact were unable to find their first goal, but settled for a second draw with Matt Jordan posting a shutout to match Josh Saunders in opposition.
Thursday, June 5
Minnesota Thunder 0 at Portland Timbers 0
Nic Platter of Minnesota and Jordan James of Portland each made three saves as the two clubs dueled to the scoreless draw.
Friday, June 6
Puerto Rico Islanders 1 at Atlanta Silverbacks 1
The scoreless streak of the week's action came to a close Friday night, but the result was still the same as Noah Delgado's tally in the 23rd minute for the visiting Islanders was negated in the 36th by Atlanta's Ansu Toure.
Saturday, June 7
Miami FC Blues 0 at Rochester Rhinos 0
Miami completed its northern road swing with a second straight scoreless shutout with Saunders posting eight saves for the clean sheet. Scott Vallow's exploits in goal for six saves helped the Rhinos move one-point ahead again of last-place Puerto Rico with the draw.
Montreal Impact 1 at Charleston Battery 3
The Battery stayed within striking distance of Vancouver with a come-from-behind victory over visiting Montreal, who got on board just five minutes into the match courtesy of Rocco Placentino. Ian Fuller put the game on equal terms just before the break and set up Aaron King in the 73rd for the lead. King then connected with David Kenga for an insurance tally four minutes from time to secure the win.
Minnesota Thunder 1 at Seattle Sounders 3
The Sounders broke a scoreless deadlock in the second half to grab a commanding advantage over Minnesota. Hugo Alcaraz-Cuellar opened the tally 10 minutes into the second frame and Leighton O'Brien made it 2-0 in the 75th on a penalty. Sebastien Le Toux put the game out of reach three minutes later with Alen Marcina spoiling the shutout in stoppage time for the Thunder.
USL Second Division
The Charlotte Eagles opened the week by ending a resurging Richmond run with a 2-1 victory at home on a pair of Jorge Herrera strikes Tuesday. Charlotte would go on to play Pittsburgh to a 2-2 draw Friday and Richmond would fall on the road again, 4-1 to the defending champion Harrisburg City Islanders Friday. Western Mass wrapped Friday night's action with a 3-1 win over Crystal Palace.
On Saturday, a showdown of the winless sides saw Wilmington finally earn their first victory, outgunning visiting Pittsburgh 5-3 on a four-goal effort from Alex Harrison. Cleveland's match at Real Maryland was postponed to Sunday due to weather, nearly causing the visitors to sleepwalk through their morning reschedule. Cleveland would wake up in the final five minutes, however, with two goals to down the Monarchs 2-1. After starting winless in their first, Harrisburg won its third straight with a narrow 1-0 victory at Crystal Palace Sunday.
Premier Development League
With several players sent down from their USL-1 side, the Vancouver Whitecaps Residency were stunned Saturday 4-0 in Tacoma by the 5-2-1 Tide, who moved into a tie for first in the Northwest Division with the win, coupled with a 2-0 victory over Abbotsford Friday and Yakima's 3-2 loss in Spokane Saturday. Also out west, Fresno used a pair of four-goal games to down Bakersfield 4-0 and Lancaster 4-1 to move into first in the Southwest at 5-2-2. Arguably still tops in the league are the 8-0-0 Michigan Bucks, who downed West Michigan 3-0 Wednesday and Cleveland 4-2 Saturday.
In the east, Reading used a 2-1 win against New Hampshire Friday and a 3-1 win over Richmond Sunday to move into first in the Mid Atlantic. After a 2-0 win over New Hampshire Wednesday, Brooklyn squared off with another division leader Ocean City Saturday in a 1-1 weather-shortened draw to remain at the top of the Northeast. Expansion Austin continues to roll in the Mid South with a 2-0 win over El Paso and a 4-0 win at DFW to move to 6-1-1.
Races are heating up at the top of the various divisional tables. Atlanta and Charlotte remain level on 21 points with the 7-0-0 Silverbacks downing Tampa Bay 6-0 Saturday and 7-1-0 Charlotte pulling level with a 4-2 win over the Tampa Friday and a 5-0 victory over Bradenton Saturday. Atlanta's Sarah Steinmann scored twice to remain at the top of the scoring table with 11 goals, leading Charlotte's Kelly Schmedes (7 goals), who notched two goals and two assists. Tampa's two losses allowed the Carolina RailHawks to move into third with a 4-0 win over Bradenton Friday on a five-point night from Casey Nogueira.
In the Northeast, the Boston Renegades kept their lead with a pair of road wins, downing Fredericksburg 6-0 and Northern Virginia 4-1. Lauren MacIver provided three goals and two assists. The Western Conference race is also neck-and-neck with Vancouver continuing to chase the Pali Blues. The Whitecaps downed rival Seattle 3-1 on a pair of goals from Canadian international Christine Sinclair while Pali won two on the road, beating Fort Collins 2-1 and Real Colorado 5-1.