Erase everything you thought you knew from the first two weeks…week three got weird in the East. Weeks like this are why we love this game called soccer. Players and coaches can show up to a game and defy the public expectations. Some teams expected to win crapped the bed and sent their fans into fits of depression. Members of the media are immune to feelings of torment and loss. This pain inside must be from something else. These pints of ice cream and DVD of the Notebook are not mine, I swear.
Orlando City B vs. Toronto FC II 3-1
Neither one of these teams have looked good in the last couple weeks. Toronto’s only win came from a Phoenix team that has evaded wins, and both teams recently suffered a Tampa thrashing. The battle of the worst two II teams had some goals, however. Despite only ten shots (5 on frame), Orlando ended with three goals. The only goal for Toronto came in the 30th minute. You don’t really care about this game recap, do you? I understand, lets move on to something interesting.
New York Red Bulls II vs. Harrisburg City Islanders 0-1
Harrisburg scored in the 63rd minute via a terrible NY clearance error. I watched the rest of this game in fascination as the Baby Bulls pressed and pressed looking for an equalizer. New York dominated in possession, shots taken, passes, and they even committed less fouls. In the end, none of it mattered because Harrisburg made its only shot on goal count. I have no idea how New York missed some of their opportunities. Our favorite miss of the night was on a keeperless net. Runner up was Lewis’ one-on-one miss vs. Harrisburg’s keeper. To the Islanders credit, they fought off a furious attack and held on for dear life. Harrisburg’s win snaps a 16 game unbeaten streak by New York. The video below is better if you imagine banana peels on the ground.
— USL (@USL) April 6, 2017
Toronto FC II vs. Rochester Rhinos 0-0
Toronto booked it back to Canada after Wednesday’s game in Florida just in time to freeze in a nil-nil game with snow still on the ground. Only 525 people braved the cold to watch and to welcome Toronto II back home. Rochester is famous for playing a well defended game. The only problem was Toronto decided to play the same game. Neither team put forth much of an attack for 75 minutes. Tuning in for this USL game early would have been a mistake. The last fifteen minutes, however, made up for it. Both teams decided to erupt from their shell and go for win. Great shots and great saves resulted in a draw.
Richmond Kickers vs. Louisville City FC 0-1
For the second home match in a row, Richmond brought a crowd. That is about all they brought as goals were not easy to find in this match. Louisville started former FC Cincinnati player Luke Spencer in the #9 role. While he failed to find the net, his speed gave Richmond fits and kept them on their toes. For a while, this game looked like another nil-nil, and most Cincinnati fans wished it would have ended that way. Davis IV scored late in the 81st minute ruining the perfect draw. Louisville jumps up a much needed three points. The next couple of weeks will see many of the Eastern favorites go head-to-head. Gathering these kind of points early will help down the stretch.
Charleston Battery vs. Pittsburgh Riverhounds 1-2
If Charleston beats Cincinnati and Cincinnati beats Pittsburgh but then Pittsburgh beats Charleston… ahh forget it. This was second biggest surprise of the week after NY’s game. In no world was Pittsburgh expected to win this game in Charleston at the fortress that is MUSC Health Stadium. Hertzog doesn’t care about what is supposed to happen, though. He fired the winning goal in extra time against the formerly undefeated Battery. The ball was crossed in and perfectly landed where Hertzog could head it in. The Battery’s step backwards does give the rest of the East a chance to catch up on the table.
— Dejan Kovacevic (@Dejan_Kovacevic) April 9, 2017
Orlando City B vs. Charlotte Independence 1-1
Charlotte Independence has only played two games, counting this one. A loss last week and a tie against Orlando does not bode well for the other Queen City. This match was a pretty even affair with both teams allowing the other to possess the ball. Both goals came in the second half. Charlotte had the prettiest goal of the night with a rocket from Lewis Hilton that bounced around the net. Other than that, this was a boring draw.
Tampa Bay Rowdies vs. Ottawa Fury FC 1-0
I gave Tampa some grief for there first two wins against easy II sides. This game was the first real test for the club, and they delivered. Ottawa came out with a plan to give up possession and attack on the counter. That plan worked really well in the first half, and the Canadian team had some scary shots early but couldn’t connect. Going into the half, Ottawa looked like the better club, even with Tampa holding 70% time of possession. The second half was a different story. The Rowdies scored their only goal right off the bat and Ottawa was forced out of their game plan. Tampa dominated the game after that, and the Ottawa Fury are lucky this one ended 1-0. Tampa hits the road for the next two games and if they remain undefeated against Louisville and Cincinnati they will be hard to overcome.
Saint Louis FC vs. New York Red Bulls II 3-2
Saint Louis started quick with the first of three coming in the third minute. This is our game of the week to go back and watch. It started with a boom and ended with a late goal, and a chance for NY to level it. The New York attack that had been lacking in its previous couple of games came alive in the 2nd half. Allen and Bezecourt both had strikes in the 52nd and 58th minute putting NY up by a goal. Saint Louis found their answers from the bench. Both late goals came from subs, and the Baby Bulls could not find an answer. O’Toole fired a rocket just over the crossbar in extra time for NY, giving one last scare to Saint Louis FC fans. Saint Louis comes to Cincinnati next Saturday where a large crowd awaits.
Bethlehem Steel FC vs. FC Cincinnati 2-0
Not a single Cincinnati Soccer Talk staff writer picked a Bethlehem Steel win. Not a single one of us thought a red card would come in the 23rd minute. That mistake by Nicholson and an early injury sub would prove costly as Cincinnati was forced into a 4-4-1. Mitch Hildebrandt had an amazing PK save to keep things all tied up in the 1st half. The second half is where the mistakes materialized. Cincinnati could not get a decent attack going with subs burned early, and Bethlehem stayed fresh. The defense fell apart with the ball living on the wrong half of the pitch. Cincinnati will need to find a way to win in the upcoming home stand or risk staying at the bottom of the table for a while.