USL Rewind: Big crowd sees Cincy win River Cities Cup

Drained by a busy schedule of league matches and a friendly against Crystal Palace, FC Cincinnati summoned enough energy to beat Louisville City FC, 2-0, on Saturday at Nippert Stadium.

For the third time this season the team drew a home crowd announced at more than 20,000. Most of those 20,151 fans in attendance celebrated goals by Andrew Wiedeman and Sean Okoli and a fifth shutout of the season that ended LCFC’s 17-game unbeaten streak.

USL: Week 16 Results

Last weekend a crowd of more than 35,000 came out to see Crystal Palace and on Wednesday FCC lost at home to New York Red Bulls II, 2-1, in front of 16,127 fans.

“Three games in a week is a tough thing to do and it’s even more challenging when you play three teams like Crystal Palace, New York, and Louisville City,” said head coach John Harkes. “Managing the players was important today. We wanted to give some different guys opportunities to step up and try to demonstrate our depth.”

Wiedeman fired home a low shot from a tight angle to net the winner in the 39th minute, and Okoli headed home a corner kick. The result knotted up the season series between the teams at 1-1-1. FC Cincinnati earned the River Cities Cup on the basis of goals scored, 4-3.

“It’s always nice to get a win and knock off the top team in the standings,” said Wiedemann. "But I don’t think any of us went into this match thinking we were an underdog. We’re very confident as a team in what we do.”

Louisville (12-2-6, 42 points) retained its hold on first place and its lead over Red Bulls II (12-2-5, 41 pts.) is just one point. FC Cincinnati (11-4-4, 37 pts.) is third.

USL Standings:
Louisville City 42 points; NY Red Bulls II 41; FC Cincinnati 37; Charleston 35; Rochester 31; Richmond 29; Charlotte 28 // Bethlehem Steel, Orlando City B 25; Wilmington 24; Harrisburg, Toronto FC 20; Pittsburgh 10; FC Montreal 7.
WESTERN CONFERENCE: Whitecaps FC 2, LA Galaxy II 35 points; Colorado Springs 31; Sac Republic FC 31; OKC Energy FC, Rio Grande Valley FC 28; Saint Louis FC  26; Swope Park Rangers 25 // San Antonio FC 24; Sounders FC 2 23; Orange County 22; Arizona United 21; Timbers 2 18; Tulsa 15.

WESTERN LEADERS STAY EVEN. Victories by the USL teams of the Galaxy and Whitecaps kept them atop the Western Conference.

Jack McBean scored his league-leading 15th goal of the season as Galaxy II won its fourth straight game, 3-2, over San Antonio FC Saturday at Toyota Field. After conceding a goal in just the third minute when Rafael Castillo drilled a free kick into the top corner, Galaxy II tied the game when Jaime Villarreal set up his brother, Jose Villarreal, to score just two minute later.

McBean’s goal in the 20th minute gave Galaxy II the lead and Jose Villarreal’s tally before halftime turned out to be the winner. John McCarthy cut the deficit to 3-2 when he banged home a rebound but Galaxy II held on for its second straight road win. The loss ended a San Antonio run of six games unbeaten.

Vancouver Whitecaps FC 2 scored in the final seconds to beat Sacramento Republic FC, 2-1, at UBC Thunderbird Stadium to keep pace with Galaxy II.

Thomas Sanner’s first goal as a pro earned VWFC2 the victory and completed a rally from a 1-0 deficit. Cameron Iwasa’s goal in the 14th minute was matched by Marco Bustos’ penalty kick seven minutes later and after more than an hour of play a tie seemed imminent, but Sanner got to the near post to head a Daniel Haber cross into the net.

VWFC2 (10-4-5) and Galaxy II (9-2-8) are tied for the Western Conference lead with 35 points apiece. Sacramento (8-6-5, 29 pts.) is fifth and San Antonio (6-6-6, 24 pts.) is ninth but just one point out of a playoff spot.

NORTHWEST RIVALS TANGLE. Vancouver is by far the most successful of the Cascadia Cup reserve teams. Both Seattle and Portland are below the playoff tier, though Sounders 2 helped its situation by beating Timbers 2, 1-0, on Sunday at Starfire Stadium.

A goal by Mark O’Ojong in the 88th minute earned Seattle its third straight win and improved its record to 6-9-5 (23 points). Sounders 2 is in 10th place, two points out of a playoff spot. Timbers 2 was shut out for the sixth time this season and at 5-11-3 (18 points) is 15th among the 16 teams. It has scored a league-fewest 17 goals in 19 games.
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