USL Week 2 Recap

The league’s second week saw numerous debuts for not only whole teams, but also players like Jack Thompson. With all 24 teams playing this past weekend, it was as explosive a weekend as one could ask for. In our Game of the Week, Charleston and Charlotte lit up the scoreboard for five combined goals, and that wasn’t even the highest-scoring game of the week!

Game of the Week

In the inaugural game for Charlotte, it was their Southern Derby-rival Charleston Battery that emerged 3-2 winners at TransAmerica Field on Friday night. An action-packed first half saw the teams combine to tally four goals with three in favor of the Battery, while Charlotte tacked on a consolation goal in the second half.

The Independence played very composed to start the game, taking it to Charleston right off the bat. Within the first eight minutes, Charlotte had already outshot their opponent 4-0, forcing Charleston keeper Odisnel Cooper into several good saves. However, it was the Battery who would score the first goal of the game when the visitors collected a mishit pass by Enzo Martinez at midfield. A through ball was picked up by Haviel Cordoves, starting in place of an injured Dane Kelly, who was able to round a charging John Berner and send it into the net, well against the run of play.

The initial lead would not last long though, as in the 13th minute Charlotte would score their first goal in club history. A nifty back heel pass in the box by Jorge Herrera bounced to Thompson. The forward, making his professional debut in the game, took it on the half volley and left Cooper flat footed with a rocket into the bottom right corner of the goal.

Unfortunately for the Independence, the Battery took the lead back in the 21st minute. Again Cordoves was instrumental in the scoring effort, as he picked up an assist on the play. After getting past his defender on the left side of the box, he was able to square it to Ricky Garbanzo, who tapped it in for a 2-1 advantage.

Charleston tacked on what would end up being the game winner in the 38th minute. Maikel Chang sent a lofted through ball in from his own defensive third that a charging Cordoves was able to get on the end of. All alone in the Independence box, Cordoves sent a chipped shot over the head of Berner and in for the goal.

Charlotte would pull one back in the second half soon after the restart after Ryan Finley was fouled in the box by Taylor Mueller. Finley shook off Herrera in order to take the penalty, and calmly slotted it into the bottom left corner as Cooper dove to the right side of the goal.

The Independence will feel a little hard done by the result, as they did enough to at least tie, if not take the game. A wide open shot by Finley in the opening minutes was sent straight at Cooper, and Finely will want to have that one back. The striker also had an opportunity to latch on to a cross in the box that would have required the slightest of touches to redirect past Cooper, but he timed his jump a second too late.

For the Battery, they picked up their second win of the season by the same 3-2 score line. Without Kelly, the offense still very much clicked in a 3-4-3 formation.

Around the League

– In the King’s Cup, it was Louisville City that took the initial bragging rights on the strength of a 2-0 home victory. Magnus Rasmussen scored the first goal in team history in the first half, before Charlie Adams gave LCFC the insurance goal in the second half.

– The Turnpike Derby finished in a 1-1 draw, but would have ended in favor of the hosts if not for Evan Newton who I will talk about below. Michael Thomas opened the scoring in the first half after getting on the end of a corner kick to give the Energy the lead. Brady Ballew scored the equalizer in what was ultimately an attempted cross that somehow got past the Energy with everyone in the box.

– Portland Timbers 2 used a two-goal performance in the second half to seal a 3-1 victory over Real Monarchs. Kharlton Belmar got the brace before Rundell Winchester put a third past the Monarchs. CoCo Novarro pulled one back for the Salt Lake-side in the second half, but it was not enough.

– Rodrigo Lopez to the lineup for Sacramento and continued to crush Los Angeles Galaxy II’s dreams as his stoppage time goal proved the difference in a rematch of the 2014 USL Semifinals. Octavio Guzman scored two from the spot for the Republic. Travis Bowen and Daniel Steres recorded goals for LA II.

– In the highest scoring game of the week, Pittsburgh dispatched Harrisburg 5-2. Kevin Kerr recorded the first hat trick of the season, while Rob Vincent secured a brace of his own. For the Islanders, Zach Pfeffer and Garret Pettis both scored.

Goal of the Week

No question, this week’s honors go to Thompson. The entire build up to the play was great, but the finish was phenomenal. The composure and skill to do that sets this one apart. If you haven’t seen it, take a look.

Assist of the Week

Giving LA II nightmares, David Estrada earns the assist of the week. His nutmeg on Joe Franco set up Lopez for the easy tap in to give the visitors all three points.

Save of the Week

With the Roughnecks firing a point blank shot, the Energy’s Newton was able to push it away from goal. However, it fell straight to another attacker. Newton scrabbled to the opposite post, and though he didn’t get a hand on the second shot, his movement likely helped send the shot into the post for what I deem a “one and a half” save.

The 91st Minute

– Welcome to my hot take, where I tell you that the Sounders are going to go deep in the playoffs. Andy Craven now has two goals and two assists in two games and Seattle is running roughshod over everyone, scoring eight goals over the first two weeks. It’s their world, and we’re also just waiting for the highlight reels.

– The 24 teams combined to score an average of 3.33 goals per game this past weekend. Why is this happening? Obviously because the teams got kind of bored with watching MLS games like Seattle and FC Dallas this past weekend and decided to give the fans what they want. Are you not entertained?

– Robbie Derschang is doing his thing in Arizona now, recording his first goal for United in their season-opening win against the Orange County Blues. It was the game-winning goal.

– If you’ve been following along with me on Twitter the last two weeks, you know I have a gripe with LA and their live stream. Can we please get rid of the DOS scoreboard? Please, act like you care.

– Darwin Jones, take a bow. What better way to make your debut for a club than to score a hat trick on a rival?

Editor’s Note: This post has been edited to reflect accuracy. Cordoves, not Garbanzo, started in place of Kelly. It was not Andrew Ribeiro’s turnover that resulted in the first goal for Charleston.

(image courtesy of Energy FC)

About Jordan Beech

You can follow Jordan at @JBeech13 or @TotalUSL