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USL Season Starts Strong

                  USL Season Starts Strong

(Atlanta – GA / By Glenn Boylan)

The first few weeks of USL’s Division II play are complete, and the league is off to a great, and very interesting start. Let’s take a look.

10Soccer - USL SCHEDULE 2017

The Goal

April is pretty early to award the goal of the year, but I’m going to do it. And I don’t just mean the USL goal of the year – I mean the world-wide soccer goal of the year.

In the April 11th game between OKC Energy and Sacramento Republic, OKC’s Michael Harris tossed a front flip (!) throw-in from near midfield into the Sacramento box. The ball was headed by a Republic defender, but it went right to OKC forward Miguel Gonzalez who buried a bicycle-kick finish that won USL Fans’ Choice Goal of the Week for Week 4, and was #1 on ESPN’s SportsCenter Top 10.

You can (and should) watch it on the USL web site at http://www.uslsoccer.com/news_article/show/783400.

1 Player, 1 Game, 4 Goals

FC Cincinnati’s Djiby Fall scored four goals in the game against Saint Louis FC. Naturally, Djiby was awarded Player of the Week.

But you had to feel bad for the Charleston Battery’s Romario Williams. In most weeks, his seven-point performance against Rochester, in which he scored a hat-trick and added an assist – all in the first half – would make him Player of the Week. Unfortunately, Williams’ game came the same week as Falls’, and Romario had to settle for Team of the Week honors.

The Forfeit

On the opening week of the season, the Tulsa Roughnecks played Colorado Springs and the game ended 4-1 in favor of Tulsa. About a week later, however, the records reflected a 3-0 win for Colorado Springs as Tulsa had to forfeit due to using an ineligible player.

The Table

The top eight in the East are Charleston, Louisville City, Tampa Bay, Saint Louis, Cincinnati, New York Red Bulls 2, Orlando City 2, and the Harrisburg City Islanders.

With the teams having played anywhere from 4 to 7 games, however, it might be more informative to look at points per game played. Based on points per game, the Harrisburg City Islanders go from 8th place to 3rd place with 1.75 ppg. The other changes to the top 8, based on points per game, are that Charlotte jumps up two spots to 8th and Orlando drops four spots to 11th.

The leaders in the West are San Antonio, Real Monarchs, Swope Park, Colorado Springs, Sacramento Republic, Vancouver Whitecaps 2, Orange County SC, and Rio Grande.

Based on points per game, Orange County SC makes the biggest jump, going from 7th to 4th place.

Team Form

Swope Park was perfect through three games, before losing to Phoenix Rising.

St Louis also won their first 3, but now have lost 2 in a row. The Real Monarchs and Louisville City also have had 3 game winning streaks.

Portland had a 4 game losing streak which they just ended. Sacramento is on, and LA and Richmond just ended, 3 game losing streaks.

Individual Leaders

Djiby Fall (FC Cincinnati) leads with 6 goals, with, as noted above, four coming in one game. Vincent Bezecourt (New York Red Bulls II) is next with 5.

Justin Portillo (Charleston Battery) and Pierre Da Silva (Orlando City B) lead the league with 4 assists. Billy Forbes (San Antonio FC) and Charlie Adams (Real Monarchs SLC) are tied for second with 3 each.

Earl Edwards Jr (Orlando) is on top of the saves list with 22, followed by Kendall McIntosh (Portland Timbers 2) with 21.

Matt Cardone (San Antonio FC) and Akira Fitzgerald (Tampa Bay Rowdies) have recorded the most clean sheets so far, with 3 each. Callum Irving (Ottawa Fury FC), Mitch Hildebrandt (FC Cincinnati) and Angelo Cavalluzzo (Toronto FC II) are next on the clean sheet list with 2 each.

The United Soccer League (USL)  announced its structure for the 2017 season, which will feature 30 teams playing an expanded 32-game schedule as the League continues in a two-conference alignment that began in 2015.