Flemmings hits key brace
NEW YORK (CMC):
Reggae Boyz striker Junior Flemmings scored twice as Phoenix Rising FC extended their astonishing winning run to 20 with a 4-1 crushing of LA Galaxy II, to clinch top spot in the Western Conference and secure home field advantage throughout the United Soccer League play-offs.
Hosting Galaxy at Casino Arizona Field last weekend, Phoenix raced to a 3-0 lead at half-time, courtesy of Solomon Asante’s 10th-minute penalty and two goals from the 23-year-old Flemmings.
Kai Koreniuk pulled one back for the visitors in the 76th, but Ben Spencer’s strike a minute later gave Phoenix an emphatic victory.
The match, however, was marred by spectator trouble in the 84th minute, and was subsequently abandoned after a Galaxy player was struck by a missile from the stands.
Phoenix have not lost or drawn since May 4, when they went down 2-0 away to Orange County SC, and Flemmings has been a key element of that run, having now notched 13 goals for the season.
It was leading goalscorer Asante who opening the account, however, netting from the spot, before Flemmings added the second five minutes later, capitalising on loose marking to score from 18 yards out.
The Jamaican was on target again on the stroke of half-time, this time nodding in Asante’s free kick from close range after outjumping his markers.
Koreniuk then got the visitors’ first, courtesy of a deflection, before Spencer stylishly volleyed home from eight yards into an empty net, after goalkeeper Eric López had rushed of his line to parry Asante’s initial shot.
With the goal, Phoenix pushed their season tally to a record 77 to mark the highest-ever number of goals in a single season.
At Lucas Oil Stadium in downtown Indianapolis, Jamaican Dane Kelly scored his seventh goal of the season as Indy Eleven became the second team in the Eastern Conference to secure a playoff berth with a 2-1 win over Bethlehem Steel FC.
Following a goalless first half, Serbian Ilija Ilić put the hosts ahead in the 57th minute before Benjamin Ofeimu equalised in the 75th. And it was Kelly who produced the winner in the 80th, tapping into an open net after goalkeeper Matt Freese ventured off his line to counter a threat from Tyler Pasher.
Meanwhile, another Jamaican, Michael Seaton, scored his 12th goal of the season as Orange County closed in on a play-off spot with a 2-0 victory over El Paso Locomotive at Championship Soccer Stadium at OC Great Park in Irvine.
And Jamaican Deshorn Brown netted his 13th goal of the campaign in a losing effort as Oklahoma City Energy went down 3-1 to San Antonio FC, who benefited from an own goal from St Kitts and Nevis’ Atiba Harris in the 48th minute.