It was a big week for Akeem Ward and his North Carolina FC teammates as they earned all 6 points to remain in the playoff hunt, with Ward contributing a fine assist to close out the second victory. Meanwhile, skipper John Galas and FC Tucson faced off against Ricky Lopez-Espin and Fort Lauderdale CF.
AKEEM WARD – NORTH CAROLINA FC (USL CHAMPIONSHIP)
Akeem Ward started and played a full 90 minutes for North Carolina FC in their 2-1 victory over Birmingham last Saturday. Ward completed 84.2% of his passes, had four interceptions, and created a chance to help NCFC keep their playoff hopes alive in Group G.
North Carolina scored two quick goals to start their next must-win match against New York on Wednesday afternoon. Ward started and played a full 90, and right before halftime he made a darting run toward the goal line, where he turned his body to make a beautiful one-touch cross toward John Tolkin at the back post, making it 3-0 before halftime. Ward also contributed 33 accurate passes, eight tackles, and won 13 duels. North Carolina held on to preserve the clean sheet—and their season—before another must-win against Charlotte.
Next Week: 10/3 vs Charlotte Independence
HASSANI DOTSON – MINNESOTA UNITED FC (MAJOR LEAGUE SOCCER)
Hassani Dotson and Minnesota United drew Western Conference foes Real Salt Lake 0-0 on Sunday, September 27th at Allianz Field. Dotson did his part, leading the team with 28 pressures and three tackles, as well as completing 50 of his 58 passes and drawing five fouls. Dotson’s only shot was a laser from distance that flew just wide of the far post at the stroke of 68 minutes.
Next Week: 10/3 vs FC Cincinnati, 10/6 @ Nashville SC
NICK MOON – INDY ELEVEN (USL CHAMPIONSHIP)
With Indy Eleven even at 1-1 with Sporting Kansas City II, Nick Moon came on to try and push Indy into the playoffs. He got a chance in the 76th minute, but his shot was just wide of the post from a tight angle. SKC II went onto score the winner in the 94th minute, meaning Indy will need at least a point against Saint Louis to advance to the playoffs.
Next Week: 10/3 vs Saint Louis FC
KYLE COFFEE – REAL MONARCHS SLC (USL CHAMPIONSHIP)
Coffee started and had a productive outing for Salt Lake City in a 1-1 draw against Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC on Saturday, creating four chances and completing 88.9% of his passes before being subbed out in the 87th minute.
In Wednesday’s loss to New Mexico United, Kyle came on in the 79th minute to try and rescue a point for the Monarchs, who only managed 35.5% possession, three corner kicks, and one shot on target all night (in the 85th minute). Coffee contributed one shot himself, but Salt Lake City couldn’t break through against a gritty New Mexico team with playoff aspirations on the line.
Next Week: 10/4 vs El Paso Locomotive FC
RICKY LOPEZ-ESPIN – FORT LAUDERDALE CF (USL LEAGUE ONE)
Lopez-Espin and Fort Lauderdale CF squared off against John Galas and FC Tucson Saturday, September 26th. Ricky had his penalty saved in the 57th minute, but still got the better of Tucson after contributing 14 passes and a blocked shot in a late 2-1 comeback win. Lopez-Espin still remains second on USL League One’s top scorers list with seven goals.
In Fort Lauderdale’s following match against Union Omaha Wednesday night, Lopez-Espin got a rest on the bench for 71 minutes before coming on in a 2-2 match as FLCF pushed for the winner. Unfortunately, it was Omaha that found the 3-2 lead in the 84th minute, but Lopez-Espin still managed to contribute a shot in his performance.
Next Week: 10/3 vs Union Omaha, 10/9 vs New England Revolution II
JOHN GALAS & AJ VALENZUELA – FC TUCSON
John Galas and Co. faced off against Ricky Lopez-Espin and Fort Lauderdale CF on Saturday. Galas’ men had multiple chances to put the match away at 1-0, but they were either saved or wasted away. In the end, Lopez-Espin’s side got the better of FC Tucson, with two late goals by FLCF to seal the victory in the 94th minute. Valenzuela did not play.
Next Week: 10/3 @ Forward Madison FC, 10/7 @ South Georgia Tormenta FC
WILL SEYMORE – SLIGO ROVERS (LEAGUE OF IRELAND PREMIER DIVISION)
After not featuring during last Saturday’s 1-0 loss to Waterford, Seymore and his Rovers’ teammates rebounded for a huge win on Tuesday with Ryan De Vries scoring the lone goal three minutes from time to defeat Derry City. Seymore played the entire match in midfield, helping his squad jump from sixth up to fourth place in the standings. The Bit O’ Red have an enormous test this weekend against league leading Shamrock Rovers.
Next Week: 10/2 @ Shamrock Rovers
XIMO MIRALLES – CD NUMANCIA (SPANISH SEGUNDA B DIVISION)
For the second straight preseason match, Miralles played the entire first half in goal last Saturday and kept the opponents at bay, helping CD Numancia head into the locker rooms tied at nil. He made a comfortable save on a shot from outside the area the only time he was called into action. Striker Toni Gabarre would go on to grab a late winner over Haro Deportivo as Numancia won for the second time as they prepare for their league opener on October 18.