The Wilmington Hammerheads put their playoff push in to high gear over the weekend by picking up a much needed four points from their west coast trip. It could have been the full six points if not for a late equalizer by LA Galaxy II. The points were vital for the Hammerheads who are coming off a midseason slump that has seen them slump all the way down to tenth in the table.
With at least one game in hand on all the clubs above them and fifth place on five points ahead they still have a lot to play for in the final weeks of the season. If they are going to make the playoffs it may well have a lot to do with the contributions of Mark-Anthony Kaye.
Kaye, a Toronto FC academy product, had a big weekend as he not only made his professional debut against Orange County Blues FC in Saturday's 2-1 win but he also picked up a goal and an assist against the Galaxy's B-team as the Hammerheads battled back from two goals down to come within minutes of claiming all three points against a very good Galaxy squad.
Over the course of the two matches Kaye played over 140 minutes. Both he and Manuel Aparicio started the game on Saturday before coming off in the second half and then on Sunday the pair both featured off the bench with Aparicio coming on for just over 20 minutes and Kaye playing 50.
The next match should be a real test for Wilmington as they host Orlando City on Thursday. Orlando are preparing for their MLS debut by once again looking like the class of USL Pro and should present a stiff test for the Hammerheads who just seem to be finding some of their form back.
For the Hammerheads a lack of consistency in their roster seems to have hurt them this season. They got on a roll early in the season when Sammy Ochoa and Jordan Hamilton were clicking as a strike partnership but that roll ended when Hamilton left. They had a strong defensive record when Quillan Roberts was in goal but that seems to have taken a step back since Brad Stuver came from Columbus to replace the now recalled TFC keeper.
The good news for the Hammerheads is that if they can go on one last roll it should be enough to see them claim a playoff spot next month. The play of Sunny Jane and Kaye over the weekend should give there fans reason to hope that such a roll is not unrealistic.
Here are the highlights from Sunday's 3-3 draw including the first assist and goal of Kaye's professional career (He is #21)