USSF Division 2: A Look Back at Week Two

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By TRAVIS CLARK

Portland fans have to wait one more year to join Major League Soccer, but they showed over the weekend that they are ready to be one of the strongest fan groups in MLS.

A sellout crowd of 15,418 packed into PGE Park to witness Portland's final second-division home opener, a 1-0 win over the Rochester Rhinos. In a match marred by an unsightly turf field — with dirt from the baseball diamond visible in one corner — Portland struggled to get going in the game's first half against a tough, organized Rhinos defense.

The hosts got the breakthrough in the 85th minute, when the Rhinos handled the ball in the box. Ryan Pore stepped up and smashed the penalty home to send the raucous crowd into a euphoric celebration. In spite of the early struggles, Portland improved as the game went on and looked much better by the game's final whistle

Here's a look at the rest of this weekend's action from the USSF Division 2:

A.C. ST. LOUIS DROPS HOME OPENER

The story in St. Louis off the pitch was a positive one — a sellout crowd of 5,695 fans showed up for A.C. St. Louis' debut match — but on it, the story was the same as last week, with the expansion club losing 2-1 against an fast improving Austin Aztex side. Eddie Johnson opened his scoring account for Austin, before St. Louis equalized through Anthony O'Garro. Austin went ahead for good in the game's 56th minute, when Leonard Griffin's shot caught Alec Dufty off guard, and the goalkeeper couldn't keep it out of the net.

MINNESOTA UPSETS CAROLINA FOR FIRST WIN

NSC Minnesota took advantage of a moment of poor defending and a profligate Carolina side to grab a surprising 1-0 road win. Man of the match was Minnesota 'keeper Joe Warren, who kept the Railhawks at bay with a few sharp saves. Carolina couldn't best the 35-year-old backup, starting in place of the injured Louis Crayton. The game's lone goal came off a goalmouth scramble when Carolina failed to clear a Minnesota corner. After pinballing around in the box, the ball fell kindly to Minnesota defender Daniel Wasson, who buried a shot past Eric Reed. 

Warren again proved equal to a late Matt Bobo header, the 'keeper at a full stretch to palm away the defender's effort, as Minnesota held on the for the win.

TAMPA BAY WINS BATTLE OF THE NEWCOMERS

Second division soccer welcomed two new teams over the weekend — FC Tampa Bay Rowdies and Crystal Palace Baltimore — with the Florida side emerging 1-0 winners at UMBC Stadium. Tampa Bay's Aaron King scored the game's only goal as the Rowdies notched a first win in the club's first game of the season. Baltimore's Matthew Mbuta missed a few scoring chances, striking the post in the first half of the game, as Baltimore had no answer for King's tally.

VANCOUVER MISSES PENALTY, SETTLES FOR DRAW IN MIAMI

Vancouver's struggles on the road in 2009 continued into the new year — but the 'Caps only had themselves to blame, drawing 0-0 against Miami. Blues goalie Caleb Patterson-Sewell saved a 56th minute penalty off the boot of Whitecaps forward Marlon James to preserve the shutout. Fortunately for the visitors, Miami couldn't breakthrough offensively, unable to beat Whitecaps goalie Jay Nolly. Christian Gomez was kept in check, and Edward Santeliz and Abe Thompson each missing scoring chances of their own.

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What did you think of this week's action? Impressed with Portland's turnout? Which players stood out for you?

Share your thoughts below.

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31 Responses to USSF Division 2: A Look Back at Week Two

  1. TC says:

    Timbers were turning away walk-up tickets sales before the game started. They need to find a way to get more in the stadium. There was plenty of space for standing room only tix to be sold.

    Sketchy start for the team, but the defense was very organized.

  2. Blake says:

    My, how Eddie Johnson has fallen…heh.

  3. Eric says:

    Wrong EJ. Though you could argue that THIS EJ has fallen a bit.

  4. PTFC says:

    Ives, the turf has been like that for as long as I’ve been going to games. I think there were a few last year where they brought out a cover for the home plate area but its the exception, not the rule. Though we won’t be getting grass for next year, we will at least be getting some new turf.

  5. rory says:

    Ugh, I hate watching Seattle’s home games because of the turf, it sounds like we’ll have more bouncy-ball style action in Portland next year.

  6. K-Town says:

    I think it is a disgrace that MLS is still letting teams in the league with turf fields. Portland AND Vancouver apparrantly will play on turf. The Pac NW will have three of the best home crowds to see teams play on turf fields. WTF?!

  7. Blake says:

    I guess the “heh” didn’t make it obvious enough. I’ll try to add a kidding disclaimer next time…

  8. PTFC says:

    Disgrace is a bit harsh. Given the lack of sunlight at the park its the only way they could have gone.

  9. MattC in Rowdie Town. says:

    Rowdies re-birth well underway. Fear the Green and Gold.

  10. NacosRus says:

    Miami sos cagon

  11. Hopper says:

    It rains a lot here dude. It’s better to play on turf than mud. Get over it.

  12. Kjesare says:

    Be thankful it is no longer just turf over concrete. Years ago I practiced there, forgot to bring some flat shoes and came away feeling like nails were driven into my feet because I wore cleats.

    BTW, the stadium has the distinction as being the first place ever in 1969 to have astroturf installed for competitive baseball.

  13. D5ve says:

    Wind your neck in, mate.

  14. Kjesare says:

    In one game the Timbers attendance was almost the entire attendance of the previous seven USSF D2 matches.

    Next game is the same night as the Blazers home playoff game. Attendance may be down to 10k or so. This place still is Blazer-town. I bet most Timbers fans are likewise Blazer fans.

  15. Can’t wait for the first Rowdies home game. It’s too bad the feed was down for this one, I had looked forward to watching.

  16. Tim M. says:

    Aztex Baby. Your teams sh*t will be f-d in the behind. St. Louis

  17. Matt P. says:

    “Aztex Baby. Your teams sh*t will be f-d in the behind. St. Louis”

    Huh?

  18. K-Town says:

    Kilmarnock FC play at Rugby Park, a nice 18K, all seater stadium, with a grass pitch, that is similar to many MLS SSS. It is used for concerts and events like many MLS stadiums. Kilmarnock averages 43″ of rain to Portland’s 40″ per year. Gamba Osaka of the Japanese J-League play at Osaka Expo ’70 Stadium, a 21K seat stadium with a grass pitch, and nearby Tokyo only pulls in a paltry 60″ of rain per year. Propper drainage and undersoil heating manage to work for these teams just fine. With the Pac NW emerging as the hotbed of football in the US (which I am thrilled about) I find it a “disgrace” that they can’t play on grass as well, which was a major talking point of MLS the last few years. That is simply my opinion. We can just agree to disagree.

  19. K-Town says:

    I am an Aztex season ticket holder. I was at the home opener and had a great time. All I have to say to this post is ?????

  20. Kjesare says:

    They play on top of an existing creek bed that was diverted underground 100 years ago. The stadium was built in that gully. All previous grass pitches in that stadium was filled with wood chips because it was bogged down. It sits some 40ft below the street level making drainage issues VERY problematic. Grass in Oregon quits growing in October b/c of lack of sunlight and too much rain. Most places rain more in volume than Portland. I knew that. But most of those places don’t rain as OFTEN as Portland. This makes a difference. When Oregonians say it rains a lot. We mean day-in-day out, not monsoon-like conditions you find in Japan. Shall I go on? Grass can work, but to do so would require $$$$, more than is available at the moment.

    We’re mean, we’re green, we’re the Timbers.

  21. K-Town says:

    That sucks as far as drainage goes, but what is Vancouver’s excuse. Also, I happen to be a Meteorologist. I am not throwing that in your face to be a jerk, I’m just trying to show my credibility. As far as OFTEN goes, Tokyo averages at least 2″ of rain every calender month of the year, with only 3 months getting less than 3″. Climatologically speaking, Portland doesn’t even hit 2″ on average for two of it’s calender months during the summer (which is during the MLS season). The three wettest months in Oregon are Nov-Jan, which are not MLS season months. I love weather, and I am just tired of hearing weather related excuses when other countries manage to get through similar conditions. However, the drainage issues at PGE are a legitimate reason. Without propper drainage of course grass would be hard to pull off in Oregon.

  22. Jim says:

    Maybe Tim M. has the hit the Tavern a few days ahead of the match??? Come on Aztex, lets make it three in a row this weekend!

  23. K-Town says:

    P.S. I can’t wait until your Timbers come to Austin. My Aztex are looking like an actual team so far. And yes, we play on a horrible turf pitch. So, yes, I realize that just having a team to see locally is the most important part, but I don’t see why it has to be either/or.

  24. Kjesare says:

    Ok, gotchya (I knew you’d might call me on the wet-months thing). Just annoyed by armchair comments failing to see this is a a civic stadium, not Timbers owned, where the field is literally feet above a running creek. If we wanted to get technical about hydrology I’d trot out my wife who studied it. I’m just a law student.

    Us Timbers are playing AC St Louis this week, we need another team to get ready for the Aztecs who have been getting results. ;)

  25. Kjesare says:

    Woops, just finally noticed it is Aztex.

  26. K-Town says:

    AC St Louis was HORRIBLE against the Aztex. I watched the game and their midfield got bullied all game, it was bad. “Should” be an easy win for the Timbers.

  27. K-Town says:

    You know Texas has to get their two cents in on everything. We certainly weren’t going to keep “tex” out of our name. I ended up in texas, i’m not from here. I still laugh at how seriuos Texans are about their state pride.

  28. ed says:

    i like how the Miami attendance isn’t listed online. rumor is it was less than 1000.

  29. Queso says:

    The Aztex are looking strong so far this year. We are no longer stocked with kids straight out of the ACC. There were many games last year where we looked like an U20 squad playing against men. The Aztex kept a solid core from last year, and have added a bunch of very solid pros to make us a much more dangerous team.
    We Want You Rhinos!!

  30. Scott A says:

    Will Portland’s stadium have a solid amount of seating on all sides or will it be like RFK since baseball used to be played there too?

  31. Kjesare says:

    Seating on all sides will happen after the renovation which will be done by April next year (Timbers are guaranteed to start on the road in 2011). Baseball is for certain not going to be playing there, heck, they’ll be in Tuscon if indications are correct.