By NICHOLAS MURRAY – email@example.com
Thursday, December 3, 2015
The mid-season exhibition has made a resurgence with USL clubs in the past two seasons, with clubs like the Charleston Battery, Richmond Kickers and the Pittsburgh Riverhounds welcoming overseas opposition to their stadiums.
The contests have also given USL players the chance to shine. This summer, both Sacramento Republic FC and the Portland Timbers 2 took their chance as they claimed victories against Premier League opposition.
Republic FC went first, as it welcomed Sunderland AFC to Bonney Field on July 14. In Paul Buckle’s first match as the club’s head coach, the game was decided just before the hour-mark as substitute Cameron Iwasa scored with his second touch of the game when a pass to the top of the penalty area found Max Alvarez, who laid the ball off to Iwasa for a low, first-time finish into the right corner of the net.
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A week later, T2 recorded a rollicking 4-3 victory against Newcastle United FC in front of more than 15,000 fans at Providence Park as some of the key players in the club’s inaugural season came to the fore. Georginio Wijnaldum gave the visitors an early lead, but T2 hit back with three goals in 17 minutes to take control of the game.
Fatawu Safiu, who finished second for T2 with seven goals in the USL regular season, got Portland back on level terms as he knocked home the rebound of USL Rookie of the Year Kharlton Belmar’s shot. Anthony Manning added a second in the 23rd minute with a header from Michael Nanchoff’s free kick, while Taylor Peay made it 3-1 seven minutes later as he put home Rennico Clarke’s knockdown from a corner.
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