As top clubs fell, the playoff race heats up! Here are the big story-lines from week 19 of the USL!
|Harrisburg City Islanders||1-1||Rochester Rhinos|
|FC Montreal||0-1||Charlotte Independence|
|FC Cincinnati||1-1||Charleston Battery|
|Richmond Kickers||2-1||New York Red Bulls II|
|Louisville City||1-2||Orlando City B|
|Wilmington Hammerheads||1-4||Pittsburgh Riverhounds|
|Bethlehem Steel FC||2-3||Toronto FC II|
|Colorado Springs||1-1||Whitecaps 2|
|RGVFC Toros||0-0||Sacramento Republic FC|
|Saint Louis FC||0-0||OKC Energy FC|
|Swope Park Rangers||2-1||San Antonio FC|
|Orange County Blues||2-0||LA Galaxy II|
|Arizona United SC||1-2||Tulsa Roughnecks FC|
Louisville Lose in Stoppage Time
It is a rare sight to see top-of-the-league Louisville lose a match, but it occurred for the second consecutive week on Saturday, and in heartbreaking fashion. After controlling play for majority of the match, the Kentucky club fell apart in the final minutes of play, giving up two goals to Orlando City B, who walked away with three points in a 2-1 win.
Keegan Smith scored the winning goal in stoppage time to shock the home crowd and hand Louisville their third loss of the season. Orlando City B have quietly gone on a good run of form since June and have gone unbeaten in their last nine matches. Louisville remain atop the East, but the rest of their top-four foes have a match in hand.
Kickers Extend Winning Streak
Richmond Kickers midfielder Jackson Eskay contributed another late game-winning goal to the weekend in his team's 2-1 win over New York Red Bulls 2. The Baby Bulls got on the scoresheet first with a goal from Brandon Allen, his ninth on the year, but Richmond quickly answered back with a goal from the penalty spot in the 12th minutes.
The win pushed Richmond's win streak to four straight and moved them into fifth place in the East. On the other side, NYRBII will look to return to winning form when they face Harrisburg on Tuesday.
Orange County Defeat Southern California Rivals
For only the third time this season, LA Galaxy II failed to find the back of the net as they fell 2-0 against rivals, Orange County Blues. The Blues posted their first win in over a month, in large part due to a brace from Trevin Caesar.
After struggling in the first half of the season, OC find themselves in ninth place, only two points out of a playoff spot. With another missed opportunity to move atop the Western Conference, LA Galaxy II will look to rebound as they host Portland Timbers 2 next week.
Pittsburgh Convincing Road Win
In only their third win all season - and first win on the road - Pittsburgh found success in front of the net, putting four goals past Wilmington during a 4-1 victory in the Port City. Two goals right before halftime shifted momentum in the visitors' favor. Corey Hertzog stayed involved in the Pittsburgh offense the whole night, tallying a goal and two assists in the win. Wilmington struggled on defense all night and made things even more difficult for themselves with a late red card which sealed the victory for the Riverhounds. Wilmington, who has been on the playoff bubble in recent weeks, fall to four points behind eighth place.
Points Shared in Cincinnati
FC Cincinnati and Charleston Battery played out a hard-fought, 1-1 draw in another top four battle in the Eastern Conference. Another large Cincinnati crowd was on hand to watch Charleston stretch their unbeaten streak to a seven. The draw finished FC Cincinnati's little round-robin against the rest of the top four clubs, through which they earned four points from a possible nine. Losses from Louisville and NYRBII has kept Cincinnati and Charleston still in the heart of the race for the East's top spot as we enter August.
|Louisville City FC||21||42|
|New York Red Bulls II||20||41|
|Orlando City B||20||28|
|Bethlehem Steel FC||21||25|
|Wilmington Hammerheads FC||20||24|
|Toronto FC II||23||23|
|Harrisburg City Islanders||22||21|
The race for the top spot in the East is still very close, with only six points separating the top four clubs. Richmond Kickers move up a spot after a win over NYRBII. Orlando City B hold the eighth and final playoff spot for a second straight week and have a three point advantage over ninth place club, Bethlehem Steel. Toronto FC II and Harrisburg City Islanders sit on the outskirts of the playoff bubble, after both sides post positive results this week.
|Vancouver Whitecaps 2||20||36|
|LA Galaxy II||20||35|
|COS Switchbacks FC||20||32|
|OKC Energy FC||18||32|
|Sacramento Republic FC||20||30|
|Rio Grande Valley FC||20||29|
|Swope Park Rangers||20||28|
|Saint Louis FC||21||27|
|Orange County Blues FC||20||25|
|San Antonio FC||19||24|
|Seattle Sounders 2||20||23|
|Real Monarchs SLC||20||22|
|Arizona United SC||19||21|
|Portland Timbers 2||19||18|
|Tulsa Roughnecks FC||20||18
Vancouver Whitecaps 2 hold a slight advantage over Los Dos, with the rest of the top six unchanged from last week. Swope Park Rangers and Saint Louis FC swap places in seventh and eighth for the final two playoff spots. Orange County moves up to ninth after a big win over LA Galaxy II, within three points of a playoff spot.
What are your thoughts on the recent week of the USL? What stories did we miss? Let us know in the comments below!