Since the end of their league-record unbeaten streak of 24 games, times have been a bit difficult for the Portland Timbers, who managed to claim the regular season championship over the weekend courtesy of other results around the league as they suffered two more defeats on their home field at the hands of the league's bottom two clubs.
The Timbers had their first crack at the Commissioner's Cup title Friday evening against the 10th-place Austin Aztex, but were unable to find the back of the net as Austin gave the hosts the initial lead 29 minutes in on a David Horst own goal before rebounding in the second half. Ryan McMahen equalized in the 66th and defender Lyle Adams provided the winner in the 82nd.
While idle the following night, first place was locked up via potential tiebreakers when Puerto Rico fell in Carolina, but the Timbers were unable to secure the top spot outright Sunday evening against the last-place Cleveland City Stars who got a 24th minute tally from Jason Hotchkin on a free kick and saw rookie Evan Bush post eight saves in a shutout. USL-1 enters the final week of play with games Thursday through Sunday. With all seven entrants determined, the final task will be settling their final positions and quarterfinal round opponents.
USL First Division
Tuesday, September 8
Rochester Rhinos 2 at Miami FC Blues 1
Johnny Menyongar scored twice against the Blues. He put the Rhinos in front in the 31st minute, and after Aaron King leveled in the 71st, he provided the winner six minutes later.
Carolina RailHawks 0 at Puerto Rico Islanders 2
Defender Cristian Arrieta tallied from the spot in the 74th minute to break the stalemate and fellow defender John Krause doubled the score six minutes later.
Wednesday, September 9
Vancouver Whitecaps 0 at Montreal Impact 1
In a game that could have secured the spot as the final postseason entrant, the Whitecaps came up empty-handed as Peter Byers struck in stoppage time to give Montreal a sweep of Vancouver for the year.
Thursday, September 10
Puerto Rico Islanders 2 at Minnesota Thunder 5
On the road with a partial squad due to an upcoming CONCACAF Champions League match, the Islanders were blasted by a Thunder squad that found its form after being eliminated from the postseason. Marco Terminesi opened the scoring in the fourth minute and Kevin Friedland doubled it in the 37th. Fabrice Noel pulled the Islanders within one in the 43rd, but Rod Dyachenko responded before the break. Josh Hansen converted a penalty for Puerto Rico in the 54th, but three minutes later Ricardo Sanchez duplicated the effort from the other spot. Brian Cvilikas rounded out the scoring with two minutes left.
Friday, September 11
Miami FC Blues 1 at Charleston Battery 2
Facing a must-win situation, the Blues found themselves down after a half hour on a Darren Spicer tally, but new addition Aaron King beat his former club in the 73rd to keep Miami in the chase for the seventh spot. Their hopes were completely dashed in the 90th minute on a Scott Buete goal that caught Miami by surprise and sent Vancouver to the playoffs.
Saturday, September 12
Puerto Rico Islanders 1 at Carolina RailHawks 2
Carolina finally posted their first-ever franchise victory over the Islanders in three years of play. Gregory Richardson scored just two minutes in and set up Andriy Budnyy nine minutes later for the second. Nicholas Addlery scored in the 66th to make it a close contest, but Puerto Rico were unable to tie.
Sunday, September 13
Miami FC Blues 0 at Rochester Rhinos 0
Missed penalties have haunted Rochester on the year and another left them in a scoreless draw as defender Kenney Bertz sent his wide in the 18th minute.
Minnesota Thunder 1 at Montreal Impact 1
The Thunder recorded their fourth straight game without a loss, going up six minutes in on the road courtesy of Marco Terminesi. Montreal found the equalizer through Peter Byers with five minutes remaining to earn the draw.
Austin Aztex 1 at Vancouver Whitecaps 2
The Aztex were on their way to another upset when Jarius Holmes came off the bench and scored six minutes into the second half. But a red card to Gifton Noel-Williams turned the tide and the Whitecaps rallied with two in the final 10 minutes as Gordon Chin set up Marcus Haber in the 80th and scored the winner in the 86th.