USL News Release
Monday, September 22, 2008
TAMPA, FL – The six clubs in the USL First Division that have previously won league championships advanced to the playoff field, joining the Puerto Rico Islanders, who claimed their first title by winning the USL First Division Commissioner’s Cup as the regular season champions. The Fox Soccer Channel USL game of the week will be Rochester at Charleston Sunday at 7:00 pm ET.
While the Islanders may have received a bye to the USL-1 Semifinals, they will have to defeat two former champions en route to also capturing the league championship in three weeks. The USL-1 Quarterfinal action that will determine the first opposition for Puerto Rico opens Friday as the teams open their two-leg, aggregate score series.
Finishing second behind the Islanders by one point were the 2006 champion Vancouver Whitecaps. Vancouver will open at home Friday against the seventh seed Minnesota Thunder, who would face Puerto Rico as the lowest seed should they advance from the series when it concludes in Minnesota Sunday, where the Thunder won their championship in 1999.
The pair played to a mirror image 1-1-1 tie in the season series with both teams winning 1-0 on the road in the first six weeks of the season and playing to a scoreless draw in Vancouver two weeks ago.
Leg One: 9/26 @ Vancouver 10:00 ET — Leg Two: 9/28 @ Minnesota 6:05 ET
In a battle of two of the last three teams to win a title, the four-time champion Seattle Sounders (1995, 1996, 2005, 2007) look to defend their crown against the two-time champion Montreal Impact (1994, 2004). The third-seeded Impact will open the series on the road Friday against Seattle two days after hosting Mexican champion Atlante FC in their second CONCACAF Champions League group match Wednesday. They return home to face the sixth-seeded Sounders Sunday to conclude the series.
The Sounders and Impact also finished tied on the season, going 1-1-1. They opened the season series with a 1-1 draw in Seattle. The Sounders followed it up with a 1-0 win in Montreal only to fall to the Impact 2-1 in Seattle two weeks ago.
Leg One: 9/26 @ Seattle 10:00 ET — Leg Two: 9/28 @ Montreal 5:00 ET
The three-time champion Rochester Rhinos (1998, 2000, 2001) will play host to the 2003 champion Charleston Battery Friday. The Rhinos, the only club among the field to have never missed the postseason, travel to Charleston to wrap up the series Sunday live on Fox Soccer Channel.
Charleston is the lone team among the playoff side to have won the season series against their quarterfinal opposition, sweeping the Rhinos 3-0-0 on the year by a 6-1 margin on aggregate. They won the two meetings in Charleston by two-goal margins (2-0, 3-1) with a 1-0 road victory sandwiched in between. They have not faced one another, however, since the final contest June 28.
Leg One: 9/26 @ Rochester 7:35 ET — Leg Two: 9/28 @ Charleston 7:00 ET (FSC)
So who would the Islanders like to face? Of the four seeds (4-7) that could be their semifinal opponent Seattle is the only club that Puerto Rico does not have a winning record against in the season series, going 1-1-1. And with the travel distance involved with a Seattle series combined with CONCACAF Champions League contests, the defending champions are the one club the Islanders do not want to see fall into their series.
The Islanders swept the Thunder in three contests by an aggregate of 7-3 on the year and finished unbeaten (2-0-1) against Rochester and Charleston. Puerto Rico had an aggregate tally of 7-1 against Rochester, concluding with a 2-0 road win a week ago. They posted a 5-2 aggregate advantage against the Battery, but their 0-0 road draw August 29 was the last meeting.
While they will not meet Vancouver and Montreal in the semifinals, the Islanders did finish the season without losing a season series against any of their offseason counterparts, posting a 1-0-2 record against Vancouver and a 1-1-1 record against Montreal.