Week five was slow for most of the east but a busy week for Cincinnati and Tampa. Week five also ended with most of the east playing to draws. The top teams in the east continued to beat up on each other before moving on to the smaller fish. One very surprising result produced a new leader in the conference.
Harrisburg City Islanders vs. Orlando City B 1-1
The sunset may have been gorgeous at kickoff during this game, but the play was not. Both teams struggled to get past midfield the entire 1st half. The second half saw the game open up slightly, but defense remained strong overall. Finally, in the 80th minute, Harrisburg broke through and put up their only goal of the night. The Islanders did their best to hold on to the game, but three minutes into extra time, Orlando landed the equalizer. Both teams pick up one point.
FC Cincinnati vs. Tampa Bay Rowdies 1-1
Chippy! Both teams went into this match to impose their will on the other. This resulted in a fun, but chippy, match that the officials had trouble keeping in line. Each team put together several good presses forward with Tampa striking early. Tampa’s Schäfer got his first goal on the year with a screamer from outside the box. Mitch Hildebrandt did everything he could, but some goals are perfectly placed. FC Cincinnati did not wait long to equalize as Harrison Delbridge got his first on the year with a corner kick header. Both teams had chances in the second half, but this one ends 1-1 as well. The next match between Tampa and Cincinnati looks promising after seeing the passion in this one.
— USL Championship (@USLChampionship) April 19, 2017
Ottawa Fury vs. Toronto FC II 0-0
It took five weeks but Ottawa finally reached their long awaited USL home opener. The Impact affiliation did not affect attendance as over six thousand showed up for the goalless draw. The battle for Canada was mainly focused on the defensive. Ottawa had the most chances on the night but never could break through Tworonto’s back line and keeper. Things got aggressive toward the end, and a red card was handed out to Fury’s Campbell. Ottawa seemed ok to go keep the draw after going down a man. The third eastern game of the week also ended with both teams gaining a point.
Richmond Kickers vs. Pittsburgh Riverhounds 2-1
Finally a game with a winner! Following an hour due to thunderstorms, struggling Richmond hosted a Pittsburgh team that has also been shaky as of late. I dub this game the clean game of the week as neither team picked up a single yellow or red card. Richmond struck early in both halves going up 2-0 before Pittsburgh got one back in the 60th minute. It didn’t look like many home fans stuck around after the rain, but the fans stuck it out caught a pretty good game. Rule of thumb: never leave early. John Krysinsky of Pittsburgh Soccer Report also gets the award for the cheesy headline of the week.
— John Krysinsky (@PghSoccerScribe) April 23, 2017
Rochester Rhinos vs. New York Red Bulls II 2-2
A lot of questions arose out of the 5-0 lashing Rochester took last week courtesy of Charleston Battery. The defensive questions still remain, but the Rhinos held up better against a weaker Baby Bulls’ side. This home game saw city-wide support with several buildings in town lighting it up green for the occasion. Hopefully, the city of Rochester can support the team as well as they have in the past. The Red Bulls II have never been able to beat Rochester, and Saturday proved no different. The Bulls went up 2-1 in the second half, but the home team landed a very late goal (90+4) to take away the win and earn the point.
FC Cincinnati vs. Louisville City FC 1-1
The second match of the week for FC Cincinnati picked right back up in the physical play where the first match ended. Cincinnati’s homestand consisted of playing three of the toughest teams in the east. Louisville City scored in the first half, also reminiscent of the Tampa game. Things got both better and worse for Cincinnati in the second half. On the positive side, former LCFC player Quinn scored a goal to level the match. However, Djiby got a late red which will knock FCC’s star out for a least a match. I say at least because some controversy surrounds a dental visit he may or may not of had with McCabe. Cincinnati ends their 3 game stand with a respectable 5 points. Note: Cincinnati saw just shy of 60,000 fans show up for games in only eight days.
Tampa Bay Rowdies vs. Charleston Battery 2-3
I traveled down to Charleston for the 1st game of the season. I knew then they had a good team, but they are playing even better than I expected. This match saw a very strong Battery side identify as the team to beat this year in the eastern conference. The Battery did something most teams will struggle to do: win against the Rowdies on Tampa’s home field. Joe Cole scored in the 34th minute but was quickly answered by 2 from Charleston. Chang hit the 2nd in first half extra time, and it was a beauty. The Rowdies leveled later in the second half but could not hold on as Tah Anunga nailed the game winner for the Battery and stunned fans at Al Lang. I guess they can’t blame this game on turf.
Saint Louis FC vs. Charlotte Independence 1-2
Saint Louis is proving to be a difficult team to diagnose. They were leading the east after week three but have looked terrible since then. Charlotte, on the other hand, rises from the bottom of the table with three points from this win. All the goals in this match were scored before the 30th minute, so if you’re looking for a quick easy watch, this is it. The rest of the game played out with several chances, but Saint Louis could not seem to land the elusive equalizer. Hopefully, Saint Louis can get back on track Thursday against a struggling Orlando City B.
— Boone's Brigade ⚽️🇫🇷 (@boonesbrigade) April 23, 2017
Bethlehem Steel vs. Orlando City B 0-2
This match took place late Sunday night so I honestly rushed to get it in here. This one will be short. A Bethlehem team that has looked tough at times fell apart during this match. The Steel racked up as many yellow cards as shots on target (5). Orlando played this game a bit more patience losing possession often but never conceding the goal. Bethlehem will need to figure out what went wrong quick with Cincinnati’s second visit on Saturday.