|USL Playoffs Review: Galaxy II Upset Sacramento on Road|
|Battery, Red Bulls II advance in overtime; Switchbacks earn victory vs. S2|
|The LA Galaxy II provided the only road upset in the conference quarterfinals of the 2015 USL Playoffs as they defeated defending USL champion Sacramento Republic FC at Bonney Field on Saturday night to set up a Southern California Derby with Orange County Blues FC.
Los Dos’ victory capped a dramatic Saturday of action, as the Charleston Battery and New York Red Bulls II rallied from deficits in overtime to advance in the Eastern Conference, while Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC had the smoothest route to the next round as it took a comfortable win on home turf on Friday.
LA Galaxy II 1, Sacramento Republic FC 0
The Galaxy II earned a certain amount of revenge for their defeat against Sacramento in last season’s playoff semifinals as Bryan Olivera’s first-half goal proved decisive in front of a sellout crowd of 11,442 at Bonney Field. LA was awarded a penalty kick in the 13th minute when Jack McBean was brought down by Sacramento’s Emrah Klimenta, and Olivera fired his shot into the top-right corner for an early lead. Republic FC carried the play subsequently and Los Dos were unable to put another shot on target, but missed chances and a pair of outstanding late saves by Clement Diop held the defending champions scoreless for a third consecutive contest to close the season, and sent the Galaxy II through.
Charleston Battery 2, Richmond Kickers 1 (OT)
The Battery rallied back after going behind in the first minute of overtime to take a victory at MUSC Health Stadium behind a 113th-minute winner from Forrest Lasso. An own goal by Taylor Mueller gave Richmond the lead 48 seconds into the additional 30 minutes, but Charleston hit back three minutes into the second period as Dane Kelly got on the end of an angled cross by Dante Marini to level the score with 12 minutes to go. The winner came on Lasso’s first professional goal, as the 6-foot-5 center back – who was brought on as an emergency striker after the Battery fell behind – rose above a crowd at the back post on a corner by Justin Portillo from the left to power a header home. Richmond had a late chance to equalize, but Matt Delicâte’s point-blank effort was denied by Battery goalkeeper Odisnel Cooper as Charleston advanced.
New York Red Bulls II 4, Pittsburgh Riverhounds 2 (OT)
Karl Ouimette scored twice, including the overtime winner with five minutes to go, as the Red Bulls II overcame a pair of deficits to take the victory against the Riverhounds at Red Bull Arena. Pittsburgh took the lead on Willie Hunt’s first goal for the club 15 minutes in, but New York had the better of the first half overall as Riverhounds goalkeeper Calle Brown made a pair of big saves to keep his side ahead. New York’s pressure told just past the hour mark as Manolo Sanchez scored the equalizer, and while both teams had chances late, the game went to overtime. Hunt headed home his second goal of the game early in the first period, but Ouimette answered before the break, and then got on the end of a near-post flick off a corner from the left to head home into the right corner with five minutes to go. Pittsburgh forced a pair of late saves from NYRB II goalkeeper Santiago Castano, but the hosts wrapped up the win in the final minute as Dan Bedoya finished off a counter-attack to earn the side its first playoff victory.
Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC 2, Seattle Sounders FC 2 0
The Switchbacks got a pair of early goals from Miguel Gonzalez and JJ Greer to take the victory against S2 at Sand Creek Stadium. Colorado Springs took the lead in the 14th minute as a turnover at the halfway line was quickly moved forward, and Chandler Hoffman played Gonzalez into the right side of the penalty area for a first-time finish into the left corner. Eight minutes later Greer headed home a second from a corner kick to double the Switchbacks’ lead, and from then on Greer and defensive partner Josh Phillips put on a solid display to stifle S2’s attack and earn a visit to OKC Energy FC in the conference semifinals.
“Right before Justin [Portillo] hit it – we’d been practicing a million times this year – I told Justin, ‘just put it in the air, get it to the back stick and let the big dog get up.’ It went our way.” – Charleston Battery defender Forrest Lasso on his overtime winner against Richmond
“Tonight we showed our character and team unity. As a group we did everything we could to defend the lead and I was proud of how the group responded under tremendous pressure. We also had some great individual performances. Diop was spectacular in goal and Olivera took an excellent penalty kick, just to mention two.” – LA Galaxy II Coach Curt Onalfo on his side’s road victory against Sacramento
“I think we just outlasted them a little bit. We were able to keep the ball a lot and we put them under pressure through long stretches of the game, and it’s not always easy to outlast that. Give credit to our guys – they just kept pushing and kept running in front of the goal and kept putting balls in the box. We got the goals we needed.” – New York Red Bulls II Coach John Wolyniec on his side’s victory against Pittsburgh
“They have a great crowd down there and it’s a tough place to play, but we have a great team.” – Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC defender JJ Greer on his side’s next playoff opponent OKC Energy FC
“They play really well at home. It’s a big field. We knew it would be tough but we played well. It stinks to come away without a win.” – Pittsburgh Riverhounds defender Willie Hunt, whose two goals weren’t enough as his side fell to the New York Red Bulls II
2015 USL PLAYOFFS
Saturday, September 26
No. 4 New York Red Bulls II 4, No. 5 Pittsburgh Riverhounds 2 OT
No. 3 Charleston Battery 2, No. 6 Richmond Kickers 1 OT
Friday, September 25
No. 3 Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC 2, No.6 Seattle Sounders FC 2 0
Saturday, September 26
No. 5 LA Galaxy II 1, No. 4 Sacramento Republic FC 0
Saturday, October 3
No. 1 Rochester Rhinos vs. No. 4 New York Red Bulls II, 7:05 p.m. ET, Sahlen’s Stadium
No. 2 Louisville City FC vs. No. 3 Charleston Battery, 7:30 p.m. ET, Slugger Field
Saturday, October 3
No. 1 Orange County Blues FC vs. No. 5 LA Galaxy II, 10 p.m. ET, Shapell Memorial Stadium
Sunday, October 4
No. 2 OKC Energy FC vs. No. 3 Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC, 7 p.m. ET, Taft Stadium
HOW TO FOLLOW
Every game of the 2015 USL season can be seen live, free and in HD on YouTube (www.Youtube.com/USL), with updates from across the league also available via Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.