[MLS/USL]The second day of play at the Carolina Challenge Cup separated its four participants into the haves and the have-nots. Toronto FC and Real Salt Lake won their second games of the competition Wednesday and will face off for the tournament title on Saturday.
Goals by Chad Barrett and Dwayne De Rosario swept TFC past D.C. United, 2-1, and RSL topped host Charleston (USL-1) by the same score with strikes by Clint Mathis and Kyle Beckerman. Rookie Chris Pontius scored for D.C. and Ian Fuller tallied for the Battery.
Barrett opened the scoring for Toronto in the 21st minute. Pablo Vitti won the ball in the D.C. defensive third and played it wide for De Rosario, whose cross to the edge of the goal area dropped for Barrett to head past keeper Milos Kocic. DeRosario converted a penalty kick in the 33rd minute after D.C. defender Dejan Jakovic tripped Amado Guevara from behind.
Ricketts fired just wide on a breakaway in the 40th minute and trailing, 2-0, D.C. came out strong at the start of the second half. In the 48th minute, Thabiso Khumalobuzzed down the right flank and fed the ball to Pontius, who lifted it over TFC keeper Greg Suttonto cut the deficit in half.
Francis Doe nearly tied it in the final minute when he slipped past a defender and fired a shot on frame, but literally; it banged off the post and Khumalo's follow-up sailed high.
RSL, which beat United, 3-0, last Saturday on the first night of play, scored in each half to down Charleston. Mathis conjured up memories of his best MLS days midway through the first half by curling home a free kick from just outside the box after former RSL defender Nelson Akwari chopped down Robbie Findley.
Renier Alcantara, a Cuban defector who joined Charleston last week after trials with Chivas USA and San Jose, knocked a ball home in the 30th minute but an offside call nullified the play. The Battery kept pressing, and got a tying goal in the 49th minute on a situation similar to that of Mathis' goal. Tony Beltran brought down Darren Spicer a yard outside the penalty area and Fuller swerved it past keeper Nick Rimando and inside the near post. A strong save by Chris Seitzon a clear chance for Spicer midway through the second half denied Charleston a go-ahead goal.
Beckerman shocked the Battery with a blast from well outside the box in the 77th minute. He latched onto a loose ball, touched it once, and nailed a dipping shot from about 30 yards out.
"We feel like even though he's a guy who plays a little bit more of a defensive position, he can strike from distance," RSL coachJason Kreis said of Beckerman. "Over the course of the season we're going to be wanting him to score a few more goals."
Toronto FC and Real Salt Lake play Saturday, followed by D.C. United and Charleston in a rematch of the 2008 U.S. Open Cup final.