USL First Division Weekend Round-Up

By Simon Fudge/ Portland Timbers and Carolina RailHawks lead a four-horse race for the regular season title in United Soccer Leagues First Division. Both Carolina and Portland had productive weekends after claiming two victories, while fellow Commissioner's Cup candidates Charleston Battery took a split from their back-to-back Pacific Northwest road trip. Defending regular season champions Puerto Rico Islanders built on their midweek CONCACAF Champions League success with a convincing home win. The action on Wednesday night, with Carolina leaving it late to defeat Rochester Rhinos 1-0 in Upstate New York. Kupono Low's late strike allowed the RailHawks to take all three points at Marina Auto Stadium. On Thursday in Oregon, Ryan Pore's first-half goal gave Portland Timbers a 1-0 win over Pacific Northwest rivals Vancouver Whitecaps. The result gave Gavin Wilkinson's side the regular season series over the 'Caps, and with it, their first-ever Cascadia Cup title. The Whitecaps woes would continue on Friday night at Swangard Stadium, as they suffered their first-ever home defeat to Charleston following a 2-1 loss. Darren Spicer and Randi Patterson scored in the first half for the South Carolina club. There four matches on Saturday, with Carolina getting late goals by Gregory Richardson and Daniel Paladini in a 2-0 home win over last-place Cleveland City Stars. Cleveland also finished the match with ten men after Alioune Gueye was sent off late in the match. Puerto Rico suffered no type of hangover from their Champions League exploits in midweek, as they thrashed Miami FC Blues 4-0 in the Caribbean. Two former Whitecaps players in Nicholas Addlery and Josh Hansen got on the scoresheet for the Islanders at the Juan Ramon Loubriel Stadium. Johnny Menyongar scored the lone goal in Rochester's 1-0 home win over Austin Aztex, with the Texas outfit finishing the match with nine men after Gifton Noel-Williams and Kyle Brown were both sent off in the second half at Marina Auto Stadium. In Portland, the Timbers took their remarkable single-season unbeaten streak to 20 matches with a 3-1 home win over Charleston. Mandjou Keita, Alex Nimo, and Ryan Pore scored for Portland, who remain undefeated at PGE Park this season. The lone game on Sunday saw Montreal Impact take their unbeaten run to four matches after a crucial 1-0 home victory over the struggling Minnesota Thunder. Roberto Brown's second-half strike was the difference at Stade Saputo.

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