Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC's Triston Hodge (left) and El Paso Locomotive FC's Diego Luna are two of the 27 USL Championship players called up for international duty this week. | Photo courtesy Isaiah J. Downing / Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC
It’s international week, and both current and former USL Championship players will be on duty for World Cup Qualifying and exhibition contests ahead of the resumption of the Concacaf Nations League this summer.
Add to that two of the USL Championship’s longest-standing rivalries in action this weekend, and there’s plenty to keep an eye out for over the next five days. Here’s a look ahead at what you should know, and an update on upcoming landmarks and the Week 3 Discipline Report.
ANSWERING THE INTERNATIONAL CALL
Twenty-eight players from the USL Championship will represent their nations this week after being called up for 2022 FIFA World Cup Qualifying, and international exhibitions at both the senior and U-20 international level in the upcoming two weeks.
Six players will feature in 2022 FIFA World Cup Qualifying, with San Diego Loyal SC’s Nikko Boxall already having made two appearances in two victories for New Zealand in the Oceania Football Confederation qualifying tournament in Qatar. Three players have also been called up to represent El Salvador in FC Tulsa’s Joaquin Rivas and Ronaldo Rodriguez and El Paso Locomotive FC’s Eric Calvillo, a USL Championship title-winner a season ago with Orange County SC.
A pair of players, Miami FC’s Lamar Walker and Speedy Williams – the latter a three-time USL Championship title winner during his career – have also been called in by Jamaica.
Some of the USL Championship’s top young talent will also be in action for the United States and Mexico U-20 Men’s National Teams as they visit South America in preparation for the Concacaf Men’s U-20 Championship in Honduras this June. El Paso Locomotive FC’s Diego Luna – a finalist for the Championship’s Young Player of the Year award a season ago – and Orange County SC’s Kobi Henry – a 2021 USL Championship title winner – are with the U.S. squad, while the Las Vegas Lights FC duo of Antonio Leone and Christian Torres are with Mexico’s squad.
USL Championship Players on International Duty – March 2022
2022 FIFA World Cup Qualifying
El Salvador – Eric Calvillo (El Paso Locomotive FC), Joaquin Rivas (FC Tulsa), Ronald Rodriguez (FC Tulsa)
Jamaica – Lamar Walker (Miami FC), Speedy Williams (Miami FC)
New Zealand – Nikko Boxall (San Diego Loyal SC)
Dominican Republic - Rafael Diaz (Monterey Bay F.C.)
Grenada – Kharlton Belmar (Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC), Benjamin Ettienne (Charleston Battery), Shavon John-Brown (El Paso Locomotive FC), Alex McQueen (Indy Eleven)
Haiti – Ashkanov Apollon (Hartford Athletic, Christiano Francois (El Paso Locomotive FC), Mechack Jerome (Indy Eleven), Carl Sainte (New Mexico United)
Somalia – Haji Abdikadir (Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC)
Trinidad and Tobago – Leland Archer (Charleston Battery), Neveal Hackshaw (Indy Eleven), Triston Hodge (Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC), Noah Powder (Indy Eleven), Jesse Williams (Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC), Mekeil Williams (Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC)
Uganda – Steven Sserwadda (New York Red Bulls II)
U-20 International Duty
Armenia – Armon Iskandarian (Las Vegas Lights FC)
Mexico – Antonio Leone (Las Vegas Lights FC), Christian Torres (Las Vegas Lights FC)
United States – Kobi Henry (Orange County SC), Diego Luna (El Paso Locomotive FC)
LAYING THE FOUNDATION FOR THE USMNT, CANMNT
Current United States Men's National Team players Aaron Long (center) and Tyler Adams (left) celebrate winning the 2016 USL Championship Final with the New York Red Bulls II.
The United States Men’s National Team will enter its final three games of FIFA 2022 World Cup Qualifying this weekend, facing contests against Mexico, Panama and Costa Rica in a bid to claim one of the three automatic berths for the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar in November. Among the squad named by Head Coach Gregg Berhalter are 14 players that competed in either the USL Championship, USL League One and USL League Two at the start of their careers. That group combined for more than 250 combined appearances and almost 20,000 minutes in the USL’s senior divisions.
U.S. Men’s National Team USL Championship Alumni
U.S. Men’s National Team USL League One Alumni
|Player||Games Played||Minutes Played||Goals||Assists|
USL Men’s National Team USL League Two Alumni
In addition to alumni on the United States’ squad, the USL Championship, League One and League Two also count nine former players in the squad for Canada’s Men’s National Team this week, including 2018 USL Championship Goalkeeper of the Year Maxime Crepeau, and 2017 USL Championship title winner Mark-Anthony Kaye. Those nine players have accounted for 308 appearances across the three leagues – with goalkeeper Dayne St. Clair having played in each of League Two, League One and the Championship – and almost 24,000 minutes of action across the three leagues.
TWO BIG RIVALRIES RENEW THIS WEEKEND
Louisville City FC and Indy Eleven will renew their rivalry on Saturday night at Lynn Family Stadium with LouCity holding the all-time edge between the teams. | Photo courtesy Don Thompson / Indy Eleven
Following the drama of the Derby del Camino Real this past weekend that saw New Mexico United take a 2-1 win against El Paso Locomotive FC, ending Locomotive FC’s 23-game home regular season undefeated streak in the process, two more of the USL Championship’s top rivalries are on tap this weekend. Louisville City FC plays host to Indy Eleven in the Louisville Indianapolis Proximity Association Football Contest – or LIPAFC for short on Saturday night at Lynn Family Stadium – while Rio Grande Valley FC hosts San Antonio FC in the South Texas Derby on Sunday night at H-E-B Park.
In the LIPAFC, for the first time in the series since Indy joined the Championship the Boys in Blue are the reigning holders of the crown. A season ago, Indy took the regular season series with a 2-1-1 record and in the process won on the road in Louisville for the first time and broke a 10-game undefeated streak LouCity had established since the 2018 season. Louisville City FC now holds a 7-3-5 record in the series across the Championship’s regular season and playoffs going into Saturday’s game.
For the South Texas Derby, the Toros and San Antonio have squared off against each other more than any other opponent in their Championship histories, with SAFC holding an 8-6-7 edge in the series after claiming the first postseason meeting between the sides with a 3-1 victory in the Western Conference Semifinals of the 2021 USL Championship Playoffs. The regular season series last year ended all square, with each team taking one victory apiece and two games ending drawn.
LOS DOS’ AGUIRRE COMES CLOSE TO CHANCES CREATED RECORD
The LA Galaxy II’s Daniel Aguirre delivered an outstanding individual performance in the LA Galaxy II’s 2-1 defeat by San Antonio FC on Saturday night, including recording 10 chances created in the attacking third of the field. Since the USL Championship partnered with Opta prior to the 2017 season, it marked only the fourth time a player had recorded double-digit chances created in a single game, and the second time it had been accomplished by a Galaxy II player.
Most Chances Created in Single USL Championship Game
Jorge Hernandez, LA Galaxy II – 11 at Las Vegas Lights FC, 8-27-21
Zach Mathers, Tacoma Defiance – 11 vs. Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC, 9-16-17
Daniel Aguirre, LA Galaxy II – 10 vs. San Antonio FC, 3-19-22
Aodhan Quinn, Orange County SC – 10 vs. Portland Timbers 2, 8-1-18
DANE KELLY PASSES 15,000 REGULAR SEASON MINUTES
After recording his 100th regular season in his debut for Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC, Dane Kelly surpassed 15,000 regular season minutes in his home debut for the Hounds. The Jamaican became the 12th player to surpass 15,000 regular season minutes in the league, and also moved within one appearance of tying legendary Colombian forward Jorge Herrera for third place in the Championship’s all-time regular season appearances list.
Following the retirements of George Davis IV and Taylor Mueller at the end of the 2021 season, Kelly is the active leader in regular-season appearances in the USL Championship on 230 and is only 13 appearances from passing Davis for the league’s all-time lead. Should Kelly appear in 32 of 34 regular season contests this season, he would become the first player to reach 250 regular-season appearances in the Championship’s history.
Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC's Jimmy Ockford is set to make his 100th regular season appearance in the USL Championship this Saturday night. | Photo courtesy Isaiah J. Downing / Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC
Approaching 200 regular-season appearances
Paolo DelPiccolo (LOU) – 198
Kenardo Forbes (PIT) – 197
Approaching 150 regular-season appearances
Neco Brett (NM) – 148
Chris Cortez (MB) – 148
Kyle Murphy (MIA) - 148
Approaching 100 regular-season appearances
C.J. Cochran (TBR) – 99
Jimmy Ockford (COS) – 99
Jose Hernandez (OAK) – 99
Noah Powder (IND) – 98
Sean McFarlane (MIA) – 98
Lindo Mfeka (OAK) – 97
Tobi Adewole (IND) – 97
Approaching 10,000 regular-season minutes
Hadji Barry (COS) – 9,985
Rodrigo Lopez (SAC) – 9,973
Christiano Francois (ELP) – 9,878
Christian Volesky (MB) – 9,859
Santi Moar (PHX) – 9,842
Approaching 75 regular-season goals
Cameron Lancaster (LOU) – 71
Approaching 30 regular-season assists
Chris Wehan (NM) – 29
Lebo Moloto (TUL) – 29
Santi Moar (PHX) – 28
Oscar Jimenez (LOU) – 28
Approaching 250 regular-season saves
Matt VanOekel (BHM) – 247
Approaching 200 regular-season saves
Jeff Caldwell (COS) – 189
Approaching 30 regular-season shutouts
Joe Kuzminsky (CHS) – 29
Matt VanOekel (BHM) – 27
Approaching 20 regular-season shutouts
Connor Sparrow (MIA) – 19
TAMPA, Fla. – The following is the USL Championship’s discipline report for Week 3 of the 2022 USL Championship season:
San Antonio FC’s Elliot Collier will not serve a suspension following the successful appeal of his red card against the LA Galaxy II on March 19 for foul and abusive language to the Independent Review Panel. Collier will be available for San Antonio’s contest against Rio Grande Valley FC on Sunday evening at H-E-B Park.
Rio Grande Valley FC’s Emilio Ycaza and Hartford Athletic’s Peter-Lee Vassell will not serve a suspension following successful appeals of their second yellow card offenses that led to red cards against Orange County SC and Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC, respectively, on March 19. Ycaza will be available for selection when RGVFC visits the LA Galaxy II on Wednesday night, while Vassell will be available for selection when Hartford faces the Tampa Bay Rowdies on Saturday night.
Atlanta United 2’s Aiden McFadden has been suspended for one game following his red card for serious foul play against the New York Red Bulls II on March 16. McFadden will be unavailable for selection when Atlanta hosts the Tampa Bay Rowdies on Wednesday night.
Birmingham Legion FC’s Alex Crognale has been suspended for one game following his red card for two cautionable offenses against FC Tulsa on March 19. Crognale will be unavailable for selection when Birmingham hosts Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC on Saturday night.
Indy Eleven’s Raul Aguilera Jr. has been suspended for one game following his red card for two cautionable offenses against the Tampa Bay Rowdies on March 19. Aguilera will be unavailable for selection when Indy faces Louisville City FC on Saturday night.
The LA Galaxy II’s Adrian Gonzalez has been suspended for one game following his red card for two cautionable offenses against San Antonio FC on March 19. Gonzalez will be unavailable for selection when Los Dos host Rio Grande Valley FC on Wednesday night.
Monterey Bay F.C.’s Mobi Fehr has been suspended for one game following his red card for two cautionable offenses against Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC on March 19. Fehr will be unavailable for selection in Monterey Bay’s contest against Oakland Roots SC on Saturday night.
The New York Red Bulls II’s Christopher Cragwell has been suspended for one game following his red card for serious foul play against Loudoun United FC on March 19. Cragwell will be unavailable for selection when the Red Bulls II host Louisville City FC on Wednesday night.
The New York Red Bulls II’s Steven Sserwadda has served a one-game suspension following his red card for two cautionable offenses against Atlanta United 2 on March 16. Sserwadda served his suspension on March 19 when the Red Bulls II played Loudoun United FC.
Tag(s): Features San Antonio FC CO Spring Switchbacks LA Galaxy II Orange County SC Phoenix Rising FC Rio Grande Valley FC Sacramento Republic FC FC Tulsa Charleston Battery Louisville City FC New York Red Bulls II Pittsburgh Riverhounds Tampa Bay Rowdies Neveal Hackshaw Speedy Williams Kharlton Belmar Dane Kelly Joaquin Rivas Christiano François Noah Powder Las Vegas Lights FC Birmingham Legion FC Atlanta United 2 Indy Eleven Memphis 901 FC El Paso Locomotive FC Mekeil Williams Christian Torres Eric Calvillo Leland Archer New Mexico United Loudoun United FC Hartford Athletic Mechack Jérôme Triston Hodge San Diego Loyal SC The Miami FC Ashkanov Apollon Oakland Roots SC Kobi Henry Daniel Aguirre Diego Luna Lamar Walker Haji Abdikadir Detroit City FC Monterey Bay F.C. Tony Leone Nikko Boxall Alex McQueen Benjamin Ettienne Shavon John-Brown Ronald Rodriguez