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Gameday Previews – Saturday, April 30

By Staff, 04/29/22, 10:55AM EDT


Top-two clash in Eastern Conference, first meeting for Rowdies, SD Loyal leads big day of action

Photo courtesy Em-Dash Photography / Louisville City FC

A 10-game slate of action arrives on Saturday in the USL Championship with a meeting between the top two teams in the Eastern Conference and a first-time interconference clash highlighting a full afternoon and night of action on the final day of the month.

Here’s a look ahead to all the action.

Detroit City FC vs. New York Red Bulls II

Venue: Keyworth Stadium
Kickoff: 4 p.m. ET
Broadcast: ESPN+ Predictor: DET 61%, NY 16%, Draw 24%

The Lowdown: Detroit City FC will try to continue its three-game winning streak as it plays host to the New York Red Bulls II, who arrive having earned a point in their most recent outing to break a four-game losing run. DCFC grabbed a thrilling late win at Hartford Athletic last Saturday night as Stephen Carroll’s goal in second-half stoppage time lifted the side to a 2-1 win at Trinity Health Stadium, which moved the side into third place in the Eastern Conference standings. The Championship newcomers also saw Deklan Wynne find the net as it rallied from a halftime deficit, with seven of the club’s nine goals so far in the league this season having come in the second half of contests. New York was unable to hold onto a halftime lead of its own against the Tampa Bay Rowdies last Saturday afternoon at MSU Soccer Park, playing to a 1-1 draw behind Jeremy Rafanello’s goal late in the first half. Rafanello’s goal was his second of the season, with the Red Bulls II attack having only found the net four times so far in seven games this campaign with a league-low 7 percent shot conversion rate this season.

Spotlight Players
Detroit City FC – Connor Rutz:
One of the holdovers from a season ago, Rutz put in a strong display against Hartford and was unfortunate not to bag his first league goal of the season. He’ll look to deliver that on Saturday.

New York Red Bulls II – Sam Williams: The central midfielder has had a positive start to the season but will need to be on top of his game as he goes up against a DCFC lineup likely to be led by influential midfielder Maxi Rodriguez.

Loudoun United FC vs. El Paso Locomotive FC

Venue: Segra Field
Kickoff: 6 p.m. ET
Broadcast: ESPN+ Predictor: LDN 22%, ELP 55%, Draw 24%

The Lowdown: Loudoun United FC and El Paso Locomotive FC will both try to get on track as they meet for the first time in an interconference clash at Segra Field. Loudoun suffered its fourth consecutive defeat last Sunday afternoon as it fell 2-1 to Birmingham Legion FC on home turf. The losing run has seen the side drop to 10th place in the Eastern Conference as Abdoul Zanne’s first goal for the club was unable to spark a comeback. El Paso has also struggled so far this season, sitting in 12th place in the Western Conference after being held to a 1-1 draw by Oakland Roots SC last Saturday night at Southwest University Park. Locomotive FC had the better of the game but a missed penalty kick by Josue Aaron Gomez proved key to leaving the game all square. El Paso is set to have United States U-20 international Diego Luna available once again for selection after his one-game suspension against Oakland, and El Paso will be hoping the turnaround the club’s underlying numbers promise arrives soon as it looks to avoid falling too far behind from the sides in the Western Conference playoff positions.

Spotlight Players
Loudoun United FC – Jacob Greene:
The 19-year-old has been ever-present in Loudoun’s lineup this season and has been a positive influence with one goal and eight chances created. He could prove key to helping the hosts break their current run.

El Paso Locomotive FC – Luis Solignac: The Argentine forward bagged his first goal of the season against Oakland and with a chance to combine with Luna could give El Paso the firepower they need to pick up a much-needed road win.

Indy Eleven vs. Hartford Athletic

Venue: Michael A. Carroll Stadium
Kickoff: 7 p.m. ET
Broadcast: ESPN+ Predictor: IND 45%, HFD 28%, Draw 27%

The Lowdown: Indy Eleven will try to continue its recent upturn in form as it plays host to a Hartford Athletic side looking to turn its fortunes around after a late defeat last time out. Indy is undefeated in its last five league outings and has won three in a row after taking a 3-1 victory against Orange County SC last Sunday evening at Michael A. Carroll Stadium to move up to sixth place in the Eastern Conference standings. Stefano Pinho starred in the victory for the Boys in Blue with a goal and assist, and now sits with the highest Goals Added mark in the league according to American Soccer Analysis with a +3.50 rating in seven appearances this season. Hartford, meanwhile, is still looking for its first league win of the season after a 2-1 loss to Detroit City FC last Saturday that saw Luka Prpa hit the woodwork late on before Detroit City grabbed a winner in stoppage time at Trinity Health Stadium. The Athletic have scored only five times in six games this regular season and are hoping to boost their attack with the addition of the Championship’s second-leading scorer all-time in Corey Hertzog, who joined the club this week after last season recording six goals and five assists for San Diego Loyal SC to move to 73 regular season goals in the league for his career.

Spotlight Players
Indy Eleven – Noah Powder:
The Trinidad and Tobago international put in his best performance of the season so far against Orange County and will now look to build on that display as Hartford comes to visit.

Hartford Athletic – Modou Jadama: The Gambian center back has recorded 27 clearances and 15 interceptions so far this season and will need to put in a strong display to try and contain Indy’s improving attacking group.

Louisville City FC vs. Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC

Venue: Lynn Family Stadium
Kickoff: 7:30 p.m. ET
Broadcast: ESPN+ Predictor: LOU 51%, PIT 22%, Draw 27%

The Lowdown: The top two teams in the Eastern Conference will square off as Louisville City FC looks to maintain its undefeated record so far this season against second-placed Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC in a matchup that has been dominated by the visiting side over its history. LouCity remained undefeated after playing to a 1-1 draw on the road against the Charleston Battery last Saturday afternoon as Enoch Mushagalusa scored a second-half equalizer for the visitors at Patriots Point. The result moved LouCity to 18 points, the most it has earned through eight games in a season, but only two points ahead of a Riverhounds SC side that has also notched five wins so far this season through seven contests. The Hounds took a 4-0 victory against Atlanta United 2 last Saturday as Dane Kelly scored twice to move to six goals this season, and Kenardo Forbes had a pair of assists to move to four this campaign. Forbes is also now one assist away from reaching 50 regular-season helpers for his career, and the Jamaican could have a key role to play as the Hounds look to continue to find success in Louisville. Pittsburgh is 4-1-1 all-time in its prior regular season visits to the Derby City, including a 3-1 win in the first official game at Lynn Family Stadium in 2020, and will be hoping for a similar result this time around to jump into first place in the East.

Spotlight Players
Louisville City FC – Manny Perez:
The right back has been arguably Louisville’s most consistent performer this season and will be key as the hosts try to contain a Pittsburgh attack that has scored 16 goals already this season.

Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC – Dane Kelly: The Jamaican forward is tied for the league-lead with six goals this season but has only one goal and one assist in six prior games against LouCity, a mark he’ll be aiming to improve on.

Tampa Bay Rowdies vs. San Diego Loyal SC

Venue: Al Lang Stadium
Kickoff: 7:30 p.m. ET
Broadcast: ESPN+ Predictor: TBR 50%, SD 25%, Draw 24%

The Lowdown: The Tampa Bay Rowdies will try to bounce back from a midweek setback as they play host to San Diego Loyal SC in the first meeting between the clubs. The Rowdies suffered a 3-1 defeat on Wednesday night against Memphis 901 FC for their second loss in the past four games as the side conceded multiple goals for the first time this campaign. Lewis Hilton scored an outstanding free kick to level the game after Memphis had taken the lead after just 20 seconds, but a red card to Steevan Dos Santos just before the hour-mark and a strong defensive display by 901 FC goalkeeper Trey Muse and his side left the Rowdies unable to mount a comeback after going into the halftime break behind. Saturday marks the second interconference game of the season for Tampa Bay, but the fourth for SD Loyal, which has gone 1-2-0 in its prior three meetings with Eastern Conference opposition. One of the two defeats came in San Diego’s last league outing on April 16 in a 5-2 defeat to Louisville City FC that saw Kyle Vassell score his second goal of the season, but the SD Loyal defense get picked off by the Eastern Conference leader’s attack as it pushed to get back into the game in the second half. SD Loyal has built its strong start to the club’s third campaign predominantly at home, sporting a 1-1-1 record away from Torero Stadium, but the side including former Rowdies Jack Blake will be hoping to continue Tampa Bay’s struggles.

Spotlight Players
Tampa Bay Rowdies – Kyle Greig:
The veteran forward had a pair of good chances denied as the Rowdies tried to rally on Wednesday night and could be in line to start with Steevan Dos Santos set to serve a one-game suspension following his red card.

San Diego Loyal SC – Elijah Martin: Set to make his 100th regular season appearance in the Championship, Martin will need to have a solid performance against the Rowdies’ wide players to try and limit chances for the hosts.

Memphis 901 FC vs. Miami FC

Venue: AutoZone Park
Kickoff: 8 p.m. ET
Broadcast: ESPN+ Predictor: MEM 40%, MIA 32%, Draw 28%

The Lowdown: Memphis 901 FC will look to continue its recent strong run of form as it plays host to Miami FC, completing a two-game week against the Eastern Conference’s two Florida-based sides at AutoZone Park. Memphis took a 3-1 victory against the Tampa Bay Rowdies on Wednesday night as Phillip Goodrum scored just 20 seconds in to set a club record before Derek Dodson restored the side’s lead shortly before halftime and Chris Allan put the game away with five minutes to go. 901 FC has won four of its last five league outings, going undefeated in that span, to move into fourth place in the East with Goodrum leading the side with three goals in six appearances, and both Jeremy Kelly and Laurent Kissiedou having notched three assists apiece. Miami heads to Memphis looking to rebound after suffering a 2-1 defeat to Phoenix Rising FC last Saturday night in which it conceded a late winner to its hosts at Wild Horse Pass. There are set to be a pair of familiar faces returning to AutoZone Park in Miami’s squad, with 2021 Championship All-League selections Kyle Murphy and Mark Segbers set to return after their offseason moves to South Florida.

Spotlight Players
Memphis 901 FC – Jeremy Kelly:
The left winger has made a strong start to the campaign with three assists and one goal and will need to put in a solid two-way performance to potentially limit the impact of former 901 FC right back Mark Segbers on the flank for Miami.

Miami FC – Kyle Murphy: The forward returns to his old hunting ground where he led Memphis with 20 regular season goals last year looking to make a big impact for the visitors this time around.

Rio Grande Valley FC vs. Orange County SC

Venue: H-E-B Park
Kickoff: 8:30 p.m. ET
Broadcast: ESPN+ Predictor: RGV 40%, OC 31%, Draw 29%

The Lowdown: Rio Grande Valley FC will try to build on a two-game winning streak as it plays host to defending USL Championship title holders Orange County SC, who are looking to get back on track after going winless in their last four league outings. The Toros grabbed a dramatic late win last time out as Dylan Borczak scored in the second minute of stoppage time to earn a 2-1 win against Sacramento Republic FC at H-E-B Park. The victory moved the Toros above the playoff line into seventh place in the Western Conference even while the side sits below .500 overall with three wins and four defeats so far this campaign. RGVFC took a 2-0 win in Orange County when the sides last met on July 17 a season ago behind goals from the now-departed Juan Carlos Azocar and Rodrigo Lopez, and OCSC will be aiming to avoid a similar result as it heads for a road game in Texas for the first time since the 2019 season. Orange County fell 3-1 to Indy Eleven in its last outing this past Sunday as it was unable to hold a halftime lead following a first-half goal by Mikko Kuningas. OCSC is set to have a familiar face back in the lineup on Saturday, however, with the club having re-signed experienced center back Rob Kiernan for his third season in its colors.

Spotlight Players
Rio Grande Valley FC – Luka Malesevic:
The Montenegrin defender scored his first goal for the Toros against Republic FC and will look to build on his brightest performance of the season so far against OCSC.

Orange County SC – Milan Iloski: The young forward has been lively throughout the season for Orange County and will be looking to add to his lone goal this campaign to try and jump-start the club’s attack.

San Antonio FC vs. Monterey Bay F.C.

Venue: Toyota Field
Kickoff: 8:30 p.m. ET
Broadcast: ESPN+ Predictor: SA 71%, MB 9%, Draw 19%

The Lowdown: Monterey Bay F.C. returns to action for the final game of its seven-game road trip to start the season with a visit to a San Antonio FC side that currently sits tied for the Western Conference lead after taking victory in each of its past three league outings. SAFC has won all three games in its current run by a 1-0 scoreline with Justin Dhillon scoring from the penalty spot against New Mexico United last Saturday night at Isotopes Park for the club’s first road win against United in club history. San Antonio is tied for the fewest goals conceded in the league this season with four as goalkeeper Jordan Farr has recorded three shutouts to sit tied for second in the league individually. Monterey Bay has won only once so far on its travels ahead of May 7’s opening of its home at Cardinale Stadium and suffered a 3-1 defeat to the LA Galaxy II in its last outing on April 16. Seku Conneh found the net for the visitors at Dignity Health Sports Park for his second goal of the season, putting him second on the side behind Chase Boone with three tallies this season. Earning a result on the road will be a tall order for the visitors, with SAFC having lost only once this campaign on home turf to Phoenix Rising FC at the start of the month.

Spotlight Players
San Antonio FC – Fabien Garcia:
The French defender has teamed strongly with Mitchell Taintor in the center of SAFC’s back line and will be aiming to continue the club’s stellar defensive record on Saturday.

Monterey Bay F.C. – Kai Greene: The former San Antonio defender will return to Toyota Field looking to put in a strong display in his first game against the side since departing after the end of the 2020 season.

Oakland Roots SC vs. Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC

Venue: Laney Stadium
Kickoff: 10 p.m. ET
Broadcast: ESPN+ Predictor: OAK 36%, COS 37%, Draw 27%

The Lowdown: Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC heads to face Oakland Roots SC for the first meeting between the clubs aiming to maintain its hold on top spot in the Western Conference standings. Colorado Springs put in a strong road display last time out in a 2-0 win against FC Tulsa that saw Hadji Barry and Isaiah Foster each score in the first half, with Foster’s goal the 19-year-old’s first of his professional career. The victory kept the Switchbacks perfect on the road this season with four wins from four games, while the side has recorded multiple goals in all four contests. Oakland, meanwhile, returns home after playing to a 1-1 draw with El Paso Locomotive FC last Saturday night as Dariusz Formella scored a fine early strike before the visitors answered to leave the sides with a point apiece. Roots SC has now drawn four of its last five outings in going undefeated over that span but will be keen to pick up all three points on home turf having earned only one victory so far this campaign.

Spotlight Players
Oakland Roots SC – Edgardo Rito:
The right-sided wingback has notched three assists so far this season but will need to put in a strong two-way performance to help contain the Switchback’s high-tempo attack.

Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC – Michee Ngalina: The Congolese winger has recorded three goals and two assists so far this season while sitting second in the league with 22 completed dribbles in helping drive the Switchbacks’ attack.

Sacramento Republic FC vs. Las Vegas Lights FC

Venue: Heart Health Park
Kickoff: 10 p.m. ET
Broadcast: ESPN+ Predictor: SAC 65%, LV 14%, Draw 21%

The Lowdown: Sacramento Republic FC will try to continue its perfect home record this season as it tries to rebound from a road defeat last time out with Las Vegas Lights FC visiting Heart Health Park. Republic FC conceded in second-half stoppage time as it fell 2-1 to Rio Grande Valley FC last Saturday, a result that kept the side winless on the road so far this campaign. By contrast, Sacramento has made Heart Health Park one of the more difficult places to visit in the league so far this season with three wins out of three in the league and another pair in the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup on its home turf. The side has scored multiple goals in each of its home outings this season with Douglas Martinez and Rodrigo Lopez each having notched a pair of goals to lead the side. Las Vegas, meanwhile, has already picked up a pair of road victories to help fuel its solid start to the season that sees Lights FC three points ahead of Republic FC in the standings. The side played to a 1-1 draw with the LA Galaxy II last time out as Danny Crisostomo found the net, while Danny Trejo continues to sit tied for the league-lead with six goals and four assists this season as the visitors look for their first win in Sacramento in club history.  

Spotlight Players
Sacramento Republic FC – Damia Viader:
The 2021 USL League One Defender of the Year has taken a more advanced role with Republic FC and could make his home league debut on Saturday after featuring in the club’s past two road outings.

Las Vegas Lights FC – Morten Bjørshol: The Norwegian full back had a positive outing against the Galaxy II last time out and will try to impact the game at both ends after settling in well to the Lights FC lineup.

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