Opening Weekend is in the books and with the addition of Opta, I learned that my attention span had possession 83% of the time. The other 17% of my time was spent wondering how they get the Cincinnati Skyline chili down to the new Charleston SC location. Truck? Train? Plane? Boat? I like Skyline chili, but seasickness and chili are not a good combo. Oh yeah, we have a weekend of eastern conference soccer to go over. Let’s start with the first game of the year.
Louisville City FC vs. Saint Louis FC 0-0
Saint Louis FC filled up three buses of fans to make the opening game trip. For those counting, that equals half the team’s supporter base. Saint Louis left confused when the game ended nil – nil. It turns out there is no 10th inning at Slugger field when the score line is tied at zero. Louisville took an insane 21 shots and had 16 corner kicks but never could get past keeper Gorrick who made 6 saves. [Space saved for Louisville highlight] Guess that space is staying empty. Moving on.
Pittsburgh Riverhounds vs. New York Red Bulls II 3-3
If you are looking for a match to go back and watch, this game is a strong candidate. I am not sure if the Baby Bulls’ defense has fallen apart since 2016 or if the Riverhounds’ preseason plot to start in the dead of winter worked. Either way, the fans at Highmark must be happy with a point vs. the 2016 USL champions. This game was evenly matched minus one glaring stat. The Steelers, um, I mean Riverhounds picked up 5 yellow cards which will be something to keep an eye on with Cincinnati rolling in next. Pittsburgh you dirty dogs.
Richmond Kickers vs. Harrisburg City Islanders 1-0
Richmond was blessed by the USL schedule maker who gifted them a home opener against Harrisburg. The City Islanders just landed a new owner, and your money would be better placed on a bet of a real palm tree growing in Harrisburg than the City Islanders winning. Richmond still tried to blow it by letting Harrisburg control possession and fend off their attacks. The tactic worked well with the Kickers countering on a set piece in the 51st minute and landing the only goal of the match. Congratulations to Kickers on breaking their own attendance record with 8,021 fans present, and props for the quality TIFO game.
— Creative Dog Media™ (@getcreativedog) March 26, 2017
Charleston Battery vs. FC Cincinnati 2-1
My wife and I were among the 30 FC Cincinnati fans who made the long trip to watch coach Alan Koch’s regular season debut. I want so badly to tell you how terrible of an experience Charleston was, but the Battery fans were nothing short of amazing to us. The blow of a sad road loss was softened by food, drink, and great company. Thanks so much to all the Battery fans that hosted us. FCC dominated this game except for the place that matters the most, the scoreboard. The Battery are famous for set pieces. Despite knowing that, FCC gave up both goals to the dreaded set piece. I want to write more, but I am crying again.
Tampa Bay Rowdies vs. FC Orlando City B 1-0
In the words of Lil Jon, “Shots shots shots shots shots, Everybody.” Everybody is Tampa Bay, by the way, as Orlando hardly had any. Tampa took 21 shots but only had 5 on target. None of that matters, as it took a PK by Hristov to put this one away. Tampa did pick up three points against an Orlando side with a lot of help at the 11th hour from the parent club. At the end of the day, The Rowdies win a game the Rowdies were expected to win.
Phoenix Rising FC vs. FC Toronto FC II B 0-1
I saved the best for last. Toronto spoiled this western home opener by landing a goal in the 87th minute. Phoenix has spent a slew of money in the offseason rebranding and rebuilding, but it did not translate into results late Saturday night. Toronto was the only eastern team to win on the road this weekend, picking up three points and a great start to 2017. Just to clarify, Toronto II is 3rd on the table, and the best MLS II team in the east after week one. Believe in nothing; the cake is a lie.