USL First Division Weekend Round-Up

By Simon Fudge/ Carolina RailHawks are three points clear at the top of the United Soccer Leagues First Division standings after a pair of weekend victories. Southern Derby Cup rivals Charleston Battery sit in second place after claiming a couple of wins of their own, while Portland Timbers took four points out of a possible six in Puerto Rico. The action started on Wednesday night, with Charleston getting a late goal from Darren Spicer to earn a 1-0 home win over Miami FC Blues. There were two matches on Friday, with Carolina head coach Martin Rennie enjoying a happy return to Ohio, as goals by Andriy Budnyy, John Cunliffe, and Joseph Kabwe gave the RailHawks a 3-0 victory over Rennie's former club in the struggling Cleveland City Stars. In Puerto Rico, the Islanders' first of two weekend games versus Portland ended in a 1-1 stalemate. The Timbers' Mandjou Keita canceled out Sean Fraser's strike for Puerto Rico in the second half. The two matches on Saturday saw Charleston claim a second straight home win after a 2-0 result over Rochester Rhinos. Randi Patterson and Frankie Sanfilippo struck in the second half to earn the Battery another three points. In Minnesota, meanwhile, the Thunder remained the only USL-1 club without a win this season following a goalless home draw with Miami FC. On Sunday, Portland moved up to fourth place, as first-half goals by Keita and Mamadou Danso gave the Timbers a 2-1 victory in their second game with the Islanders in Puerto Rico. Carolina, meanwhile, claimed a third-straight win on the road after a late 1-0 victory at Austin Aztex. Daniel Paladini's late penalty took the RailHawks to the summit of USL-1 after nine matches played.