USL Week 6 Wrap-Up: Rhinos Dominate and OC Upsets

Image, USL

by ANTHONY J. MERCED
USL Beat Writer

Trends are beginning to form in the USL in week six as the standings take shape and the top teams show their form.

Rochester, Richmond and Charleston remain undefeated in the Eastern Conference and are slowly separating themselves from the rest of the pack. In the West, things are a bit more shaky as teams like Orange County pull off major upsets and six teams are within three points of the top spot.

Here are the major highlights from a week packed with games.

Orange County Blues Hand Sacramento Their First Home Loss

No one expected Orange County to walk into Bonney Field and hand Sacramento their first home loss of the season. In fact, the Republic leading into this game had only lost one home game in their history. Orange County on the other side had yet to play an away game and really hadn’t shown anything spectacular despite entering the game with a 2-1-0 home record.

If we weren’t paying attention to Orange County before, we certainly are now. The Republic seemed to have everything well in hand after a 7th minute goal by captain Justin Brau,n but that goal was neutralized before the half by OC forward Denzel Slegar. Early in the second half, the opposing captain Didier Crettenand evened the score mere seconds after the ball was kicked off. From there the situation became dire for OC as Luka Petricevic was sent off with a straight red after a dangerous challenge. Still the team was able to hold a dangerous Sacramento at bay for their first road win and the biggest upset of week six.

Rochester Remains Strong As New York Falters Mightily

Last season, Rochester had a very difficult time scoring goals, but a stingy defense helped guide them through.

Through six weeks in 2015, the Rhinos have kept their defense, having surrendered an eye-opening two goals this season. They have also added the firepower to turn many of their 2014 draws into 2015 victories.

The home opener, celebrating the teams 20th anniversary, was an example of just how far the team has come in a year. New York may be unable to score goals this season, but their defense is better than their mid-table goals against may show. Rochester was patient and waited out New York until close to the half when Alex Dixon buried a chance. The Rhinos continued their pressure in the second half adding some cushion in the 76th minute by Jonny Mendoza.

New York remains toothless on offense and teams in the USL are starting to notice. That doesn’t pull away from a very impressive Rochester victory that keeps them in first place. At the moment they are the team to beat with Charleston and Richmond right behind.

Pittsburgh Sneaking Up the Standings

There hasn’t been much written about the Pittsburgh Riverhounds, but it’s hard not to take notice when the team puts up five goals against Toronto FC II. After five games, the Riverhounds have only lost one game and rank third in goals scored this season. Toronto FC II have certainly been less than stellar to start the year and continue to stumble through the early schedule.

Toronto didn’t start poor as they grabbed the lead early but it all unraveled in the 40th minute. A red card to defender Terik Robertson surrendered the game tying goal on a penalty kick and the Riverhounds were on fire for the remainder of the game. Two goals from Kevin Kerr led the charge in a four goal second half that was certainly one of the larger blowouts of the season.

Toronto falls to 1-3-1 with only FC Montreal being a worse team. Early season woes have plagued both teams as they will now need to dig their way back into playoff contention in a very competitive Eastern Conference.

Week 6 Scores Around the League:

Harrisburg City Islanders: 1
Charlotte Independence: 1

Orange County Blues FC: 2
Sacramento Republic FC: 1

Richmond Kickers: 1
Montreal FC: 0

Toronto FC II: 1
Pittsburgh Riverhounds: 5

Tulsa Roughnecks: 0
Louisville City FC: 2

St. Louis FC: 2
Oklahoma City Energy: 1

Colorado Springs Switchbacks: 0
Austin Aztex: 1

LA Galaxy 2: 1
Real Monarchs SLC: 0

Portland Timbers 2: 2
Arizona United SC: 0

New York Red Bull II: 0
Rochester Rhinos: 2

Charleston Battery: 2
Wilmington Hammerheads: 1

Seattle Sounders 2: 1
Vancouver Whitecaps FC 2: 1