Alex Dixon scored twice as the Hartford Athletic soccer team clinched spot in the upcoming USL Championship playoffs with a 3-0 shutout win over the Philadelphia Union II on Sunday evening at Subaru Park in Chester, Pa.
Hartford (8-3-1) clinches at least second place in Group F with the win. The two teams in each USL Championship group earn a spot in the playoffs that begin in October.
Goalie Parfait Mandanda had three saves to earn his second shutout of the season for Hartford. The Athletic will host their final regular season home game of the season on Wednesday night when they host Philadelphia at 7 p.m. at Dillon Stadium.
Dixon, 30, leads the Athletic in scoring with six goals in 12 games. He gave Hartford an early lead on Sunday with just eight minutes gone in the game. A long pass up the left side of the field by Tyreke Johnson got behind the Philadelphia defense to Ever Guzman, who quickly delivered a pass to Dixon.
The veteran forward shot low into the left corner from 15 yards away for a 1-0 lead. Five minutes later, Hartford took a 2-0 lead and Dixon was in the middle of the action.
When Philadelphia (2-8-2) turned the ball over just outside their own penalty area, Dixon quickly slipped a pass to Guzman, who got in position to shoot. But Philadelphia defender Jamoi Topey challenged Guzman for the ball and inadvertently sent the ball past his own goalie.
Dixon scored his second goal in the 58th minute, capitalizing on a moment of confusion in the Philadelphia penalty area.
Dixon’s initial effort to find teammate Idan Cohen with a pass inside the penalty area was intercepted, but the ball deflected between two Union II defenders and allowed Dixon to quickly regain possession. Dixon then got around goalkeeper Matt Freese and tucked his finish into the open net.
Tickets are still available for Wednesday night’s match. It is our Hartford’s annual Match for a Cause sponsored by Stanley Black and Decker. Players will be wearing special jerseys which will be auctioned off. The bidding is already open, click here to bid on your favorite player’s jersey.
Hartford 3, Philadelphia 0
Hartford 2 0 — 3
Philadelphia 0 0 — 0
Goals: Hartford – Alex Dixon (Ever Guzman) 8; own goal 13; Alex Dixon 58; Saves: Parfait Mandanda (H) 3, Matt Freese (P) 2; Corners: Philadelphia, 4-3; Shots on goal: 18-8, Philadelphia
USL Championship Group F
|New York Red Bulls II||12||4-8||22-23||12|
|Philadelphia Union II||12||2-8-2||12-34||8|
Three points for a win and one point for a tie. Teams will play 16 regular season games.
y-clinched playoff spot
Remaining Hartford schedule
Wednesday, Sept. 23: PHILADELPHIA UNION II, 7 p.m.
Saturday, Sept. 26: At Pittsburgh, 7 p.m.
Wednesday, Sept. 30: At Philadelphia Union II
Sunday, October 4: at New York Red Bulls II