USL Week 18 Recap: Streaks End and Deadlock in the West

IMAGE, MATT KREMKAU FOR EMPIRE OF SOCCER

by ANTHONY J. MERCED

Influential results marked Week 18 of the 2016 USL season as both New York and Louisville drop their first games in over 10 matches. Out West, LA and Vancouver are starting to pull away with major wins as well.

There were also records broken this weekend as FC Cincinnati became the all-time attendance leader with impressive crowds on Wednesday and Saturday for games against the top teams in the Eastern Conference.

The Streak Ends for Louisville and New York

New York’s streak reached 12 games while Louisville had reached 17 games before suffering losses. That brought the table much closer together.

The week started with NYRB II scoring a big comeback victory over FC Cincinnati 2-1, putting them seven points clear of the third place team heading into the weekend. However, they couldn’t hold the momentum as their third game in eight days finally caught up with them. Charleston Battery handed New York a 3-2 loss at home and made the Eastern Conference that much closer.

FC Cincinnati rebounded from the midweek loss by handing Louisville City their first loss in 17 games and bringing them back to within five point of the top of the table. Goals from Andrew Wiedeman and Sean Okoli sealed the deal as Louisville was shut out for the first time since these two teams last met on June 25th. The result was the last time the two teams will meet this season and gives Cincinnati hope for a miracle first year as their playoff hopes have taken a major statistical leap forward.

LA and Vancouver Top the West

LA Galaxy II have continued to make noise in the Western Conference as their victory over a red-hot San Antonio team kept them even on points with Vancouver Whitecaps FC 2. Vancouver themselves had an impressive win over the Sacramento Republic who continue to be hot and cold in 2016, leaving them on the outside looking up at the top of the table.

Jack McBean once again showed why he is one of the most effective strikers in the USL, scoring his 15th goal of the season. LA scored three unanswered after Rafael Castillo put San Antonio ahead in the third minute. The team did try a late comeback with Stephen McCarthy’s goal in the 83rd but the crowd of over 7,000 at Toyota Field saw their team’s six game unbeaten streak disappear to the co-leaders in the West.

For Vancouver, Sacramento posed a much bigger task and needed stoppage time to find the game winner as Thomas Sanner scored his first professional goal to hand the home team three points. The Republic were dangerous all throughout the game and pressed the action late as they searched for a winner. However, Vancouver’s defense which has been shaky this season, held firm for the win. Both Vancouver and LA have put a four point gap between themselves and the rest of the Conference.

WEEK 18 RESULTS:

New York Red Bull II: 2
FC Cincinnati: 1

Rochester Rhinos: 1
Toronto FC II: 1

Swope Park Rangers: 1
Colorado Springs Switchbacks: 1

Harrisburg City Islanders: 1
Bethlehem Steel FC: 0

Arizona United SC: 3
Real Monarchs SLC: 0

Louisville City FC: 0
FC Cincinnati: 2

Toronto FC II: 0
Richmond Kickers: 3

Colorado Springs Switchbacks: 1
St. Louis FC: 2

Charleston Battery: 3
New York Red Bull II: 2

Tulsa Roughnecks: 0
OKC Energy FC: 3

Orange County Blues FC: 0
Swope Park Rangers: 3

Charlotte Independence: 3
Pittsburgh Riverhounds: 0

LA Galaxy II: 3
San Antonio: 2

Rochester Rhinos: 1
Bethlehem Steel FC: 1

Wilmington Hammerheads: 2
Orlando City B: 2

Portland Timbers 2: 0
Seattle Sounders FC 2: 1

Sacramento Republic FC: 1
Vancouver Whitecaps FC 2: 2