USSF Division 2: A Look Back at Week 3

Whiecaps-Rowdies

By TRAVIS CLARK

After a tumultuous and uncertain offseason, professional soccer returned to Minnesota over the weekend.

Between the Thunder going out of business and the USL-NASL struggle for power, the future of pro soccer in Minnesota looked bleak — until the NSC stepped in and put together a team that won their home opener in front of a crowd of 2,310 Saturday night.

A LeiLei Gao penalty kick in the 34th minute was all the Stars needed, winning 1-0 over fellow expansion club Tampa Bay Rowdies. Making the victory even more impressive was the short turnaround Minnesota faced after flying to Puerto Rico last Wednesday night. It was evident in Tampa's advantage in the run of play, but Joe Warren and Minnesota's defense held fast for the shutout.

Here's a look at the rest of this weekend's D2 action:

AUSTIN STREAK ENDS AGAINST ROCHESTER

Rochester's long opening road trip hit Austin over the weekend, and the Rhinos responded with their first win of the season, dropping the Aztex 2-1. Andrew Hoxie's 10th-minute penalty gave the visitors the lead, though it would be short lived, with Austin responding through Leonard Griffin under 10 minutes later. Rochester took back the lead, this time for good, in the 65th minute as Aaron Pitchkolan set up Anthony Hamilton's game winner. The Rhinos had to hold on for the win with 10 men after Tyler Bellamy earned a second yellow in the game's dying minutes. The victory is a vital one for a Rhinos team still one road game away from playing its home opener on May 1.

PORTLAND TIES IN MONTREAL

Ryan Pore's hot start to 2010 continued against the Montreal Impact at Saputo Stadium. The midfielder grabbed his fourth goal of the season, as Portland played a second game in just four days. The Timbers ensured it would be a drab home opener for their hosts, as Pore knifed between the Impact defense and beat goalie Matt Jordan in the 67th minute. Nevio Pizzolitto's 81st-minute penalty equalized as the game finished tied 1-1, leaving Montreal winless on the year.

PUERTO RICO SEES OFF CRYSTAL PALACE BALTIMORE

The last club to kick off 2010 has done so in style, scoring six goals and conceding two, while winning both games. Granted, Puerto Rico hasn't faced the fiercest opposition, and a brace from Josh Hansen keyed a 3-1 win on the road against Crystal Palace Baltimore. It's a bright start for Puerto Rico, who seemed to have plenty of questions surrounding the club prior to the season opener. A road ahead is long, but two wins in two is getting off on the right foot. Meanwhile, Crystal Palace has now lost two home games in a row — quite the opposite of what coach Jim Cherneski had in mind.

VANCOUVER SENDS ST. LOUIS TO FOURTH STRAIGHT LOSS

Another tight defensive performance from Vancouver sent A.C. St. Louis home still in search of a first win. The Whitecaps, trying to cope with a number of injuries, lacked offensive firepower, but Mouloud Akloul's 19th-minute goal was enough as Vancouver's Jay Nolly earned a third straight clean sheet. St. Louis continues to search for answers, losing a fourth game in a row and still waiting on a healthy Steve Ralston to return.

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What did you think of this week's matches? Who impressed you the most? Any players looking like good bets to be MLS signings soon?

Share your thoughts below.

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10 Responses to USSF Division 2: A Look Back at Week 3

  1. brant says:

    FWIW – The RailHawks tied the Mexico Olympic Team 1-1

    link to carolinarailhawks.com

  2. William the Terror is glad he moved away from Tampa says:

    “Oh, the Rowdies run here, the Rowdies run there, they kick the ball around. The Rowdies run here, the Rowdies run there, then they fall on the ground. Oh, the Rowdies, the Rowdies, the Rowdies are …. a kick in the grass.”

    Vintage Tampa Bay Rowdies marketing jingle (circa 1976, in the Rodney Marsh era).

  3. Aaron in StL says:

    Our only answer is to sneak in some of our players illegally at this point. We have like 3 or 4 guys having visa issues and can’t get in to play. At this point I’m pretty sure a lot of people here could take the place of some of the guys playing, and there’d be little noticeable difference.

  4. ERic says:

    We had visa issues in Austin last year. I’m sure it’ll get turned around.

    Hey, on the plus side, so far people over on the BigSoccer NASL board are predicting St. Louis to get their first win this weekend.

  5. Aaron in StL says:

    At this point I’m not concerned about the W/L situation, we’re obviously going to pile up L’s. Just hoping that they can continue to get good crowds. And minimize ridiculous mistakes that put the team at a disadvantage for no reason.

  6. Murphy says:

    those tampa bay jerseys rule

  7. William the Terror says:

    throw in the matching socks and you kind of resemble a drunken bumblebee.

  8. Jim says:

    Only three subs available last night for Austin. That worries me, hopefully we get some more depth or this could be a long season.

    BTW, those Tampa jerseys do rule. They even have a tiny sponser tag on the front. Can’t wait to see Austin beat them in their home opener next month.

  9. Kejsare says:

    No mention of the phantom blade of grass that took down the Montreal player in the box? Portland was likely on its way to get a full 3 points, but the ref called a very suspect PK.

    But, instead of dwelling on it like a Flounder, we got an away point on last year’s champ! With no serious injuries too!

  10. Clayton John says:

    i wish we could view these matches on demand! i can never get to see them live and would love for them to start that feature. i’d even pay for it.