Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC play host to El Paso Locomotive FC in one of Saturday night's big interconference matchups. | Photo courtesy Chris Cowger / Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC
Saturday night in the USL Championship brings three notable inter-conference contests between four teams vying for playoff positions, as well as a second home outing for Monterey Bay F.C. and a battle between two teams in the middle of the Eastern Conference playoff race.
Here’s a look ahead to all of the night’s action.
Venue: Patriots Point
Kickoff: 7 p.m. ET
538.com Predictor: CHS 26%, NM 47%, Draw 26%
The Lowdown: The Charleston Battery and New Mexico United will square off for a second consecutive season as the scene shifts to Patriots Point for a clash between two teams looking to get back into the win column. The Battery are hoping to break a seven-game winless streak that continued last Friday night in a 2-0 defeat to Memphis 901 FC at Patriots Point as a late comeback effort failed to come through. Charleston has struggled for goals this season, scoring only six times in eight games, and has yet to record a goal in the second half of a contest this campaign. New Mexico, meanwhile, grabbed a late equalizer last Saturday night in a 1-1 draw against San Diego Loyal SC at Isotopes Park as Harry Swartz recorded his third goal of the campaign for the hosts. New Mexico has drawn its last two outings, and four of its eight games overall this season, but could be hopeful of success this time out as former Battery player Zach Prince – who won two league titles during his career in Charleston – leads New Mexico as Head Coach. United claimed a 2-1 win when the sides met last July in New Mexico as Devon Sandoval scored the winner early in the second half, a result the visitors will be aiming to replicate this time out.
Charleston Battery – Augustine Williams: The Sierra Leone forward hasn’t found the net in his past three appearances and will be looking for a better display after getting substituted at halftime in Charleston’s last contest.
New Mexico United – Neco Brett: One of United’s major offseason arrivals, Brett has three goals this season but hasn’t found the net since March 30 and has yet to find the net against the Battery in his career.
Venue: Trinity Health Stadium
Kickoff: 7 p.m. ET
538.com Predictor: HFD 57%, NY 18%, Draw 25%
The Lowdown: Hartford Athletic will try to build on its first league win of the season on Saturday night as it welcomes a New York Red Bulls II side that sits at the bottom of the Eastern Conference standings. The Athletic claimed a 1-0 win against Loudoun United FC last Saturday night as Joel Johnson marked his 150th regular-season appearance in the Championship with the only goal of the game. The assist was provided by Corey Hertzog, one of Hartford’s recent arrivals to boost the attack, and the hosts will be hoping to continue to fire against a Red Bulls II side that has conceded 15 goals and only recorded one clean sheet in nine games. New York suffered a 1-0 defeat in its last outing to Sacramento Republic FC at MSU Soccer Park last Sunday, continuing the club’s attacking struggles that have seen the Red Bulls II only record four goals, the fewest in the league this season.
Hartford Athletic – Danny Barrera: Hartford’s playmaker has yet to register a goal or assist this season but has had prior success against the Red Bulls II with three goals and five assists in nine appearances.
New York Red Bulls II – Jordan Adebayo-Smith: The young forward has found the net once this season and looked bright against Sacramento but needs to find the finishing to help boost his side to a win.
Venue: Riccardo Silva Stadium
Kickoff: 7 p.m. ET
538.com Predictor: MIA 31%, SA 41%, Draw 28%
The Lowdown: San Antonio FC will try to shake off its midweek exit from the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup as it visits a Miami FC side that won on the road last time out and has only lost once in the league at Riccardo Silva Stadium this campaign. SAFC fell 1-0 against Houston Dynamo FC in the Round of 32 of the Open Cup on Wednesday night on a late goal at PNC Stadium, their second defeat in all competitions in as many games after a 3-0 loss to Phoenix Rising FC last Saturday. San Antonio was highly competitive in both contests, though, and still sits in second place in the Western Conference with seven victories out of nine league games to start this season. The visitors could be tested by a veteran Miami squad that returns home after a three-game road trip that culminated with 0-0 draw at Birmingham Legion FC on May 4. The hosts currently sit in sixth place in the Eastern Conference under new Head Coach Anthony Pulis, with the side’s defensive strength providing a key to its success with five shutouts in nine games. Miami has fallen in both of its prior two contests with Western Conference sides this season, though, including its lone league defeat at home this season on April 2 against Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC.
Miami FC – Ben Ofeimu: The young defender will need to put in a solid shift to counteract a strong San Antonio attack that is tied for the sixth-most shots in the league this campaign with 126 over nine games.
San Antonio FC – Jordan Farr: The USL Championship’s Player of the Month for April will be hoping to add to his four shutouts this season as the visitors look to contain Miami’s Kyle Murphy and a solid attacking unit.
Venue: Highmark Stadium
Kickoff: 7 p.m. ET
538.com Predictor: PIT 41%, ELP 32%, Draw 27%
The Lowdown: Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC and El Paso Locomotive FC will meet for the first time at Highmark Stadium with both teams aiming to build on positive results last time out. The Hounds moved back into second place in the Eastern Conference as an early goal by Danny Griffin sent the side to a 1-0 win against Birmingham Legion FC last Saturday night. The Hounds have won all four of their league outings on home turf this season and are set to welcome back leading scorer Dane Kelly after the Jamaican served a one-game suspension last time out. Kelly is tied for the league lead with six goals, while Kenardo Forbes will try for a third outing to reach 50 regular season assists for his career in Saturday’s contest. El Paso, meanwhile, got its season on course last week with a run of three wins in eight days that was capped by a 4-0 victory against the LA Galaxy II. Luis Solignac has led the way during that run, scoring five goals, as the club’s defense has also regained its form after a shaky start to the season. Locomotive FC moved into the playoff places with its win last Saturday and has won both of its prior contests with Eastern Conference foes this season, defeating Loudoun United FC on the road and FC Tulsa at home.
Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC – Alex Dixon: The versatile winger has recorded one goal and three assists this season and could be a valuable piece in breaking down El Paso’s defense.
El Paso Locomotive FC – Evan Newton: The veteran goalkeeper became the first to reach 500 regular season saves in his six-save shutout against the LA Galaxy II and could need another big display on the road here.
Venue: Keyworth Stadium
Kickoff: 7:30 p.m. ET
538.com Predictor: DET 59%, HFD 17%, Draw 24%
The Lowdown: Detroit City FC will try to get back on a winning track as it plays host to a Loudoun United FC side in search of form after losing six consecutive outings in the league in recent weeks. Detroit enters Saturday night’s contest undefeated at home this season, but the side was eliminated from the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup on Tuesday night in a penalty shootout against fellow Championship side Louisville City FC after the teams had played to a 1-1 draw through regulation and extra time. DCFC also fell on the road in its most recent league outing as FC Tulsa took a 3-1 victory last Saturday night at ONEOK Field, but Detroit remains in strong position in the Eastern Conference, sat in third place as the weekend begins. Loudoun, meanwhile, is in 10th position but is in dire need of a turnaround after falling 1-0 on the road against the previously winless Hartford Athletic. Loudoun has scored only three goals in its past seven outings in the league and currently sits with a shot conversion rate of only 9.9 percent.
Detroit City FC – Devon Amoo-Mensah: The 26-year-old put in a strong display against Louisville on Tuesday, continuing a solid overall campaign, and will try to continue to put the brakes on Loudoun’s attack.
Loudoun United FC – Jacob Greene: The 19-year-old has been regularly entertaining to watch and will be one of the players that needs to provide the spark for the visitors if they’re to take something from their trip to Michigan.
Venue: AutoZone Park
Kickoff: 8 p.m. ET
538.com Predictor: MEM 49%, IND 24%, Draw 27%
The Lowdown: Memphis 901 FC returns home to play host to one of the hottest current sides in the USL Championship as Indy Eleven arrives on a four-game winning streak for the first meeting between the teams this season. 901 FC is coming off a 2-0 victory against the Charleston Battery last Friday night that saw Luiz Fernando and Jeremy Kelly find the net for the visitors at Patriots Point. The win moved Memphis into fourth place in the Eastern Conference standings as it claimed a third victory in the past four games with Kelly having recorded two goals and three assists so far this season. That puts 901 FC two points ahead of Indy, which took its fourth consecutive victory in a 1-0 win at home to Hartford Athletic on April 30 at Michael A. Carroll Stadium as Ayoze scored the only goal of the game. Indy has seen solid production from Stefano Pinho in attack with four goals and two assists, which earned him nomination for the Championship’s Player of the Month award for April, while the Boys in Blue have conceded only three times in their past four games to move into the playoff picture. Now the visitors will be hoping to turn the tables on 901 FC from a season ago, when Memphis won three of four meetings with the other drawn, including two wins out of two at AutoZone Park.
Memphis 901 FC – Laurent Kissiedou: The Ivory Coast midfielder has been a key to 901 FC’s success with one goal, three assists and 17 chances created so far this season, and will be needed to try and break down a solid Indy back line.
Indy Eleven – Ayoze: The Spanish veteran could make his 100th regular season appearance in the Championship on Saturday as he continues to provide positive play on the left side since his return from an early-season injury.
Venue: Cashman Field
Kickoff: 10 p.m. ET
538.com Predictor: LV 31%, OAK 43%, Draw 26%
The Lowdown: Las Vegas Lights FC and Oakland Roots SC will both try to get back on a winning track when they square off for the first time this season at Cashman Field. Lights FC saw a three-game undefeated streak come to an end in its last outing as it fell 1-0 on the road to Monterey Bay F.C. at Cardinale Stadium last Saturday night, marking the first time since March that the side had been held off the scoreboard. The contest saw leading scorer Danny Trejo substituted off in the 28th minute due to injury, although he could return on Saturday night, but should he be unavailable his replacement against Monterey Bay – Los Angeles FC Homegrown signing Nathan Ordaz – could be an intriguing replacement in the lineup. Oakland, meanwhile, rallied to take a 2-2 draw against Orange County SC last Saturday night as Ottar Magnus Karlsson scored in the fourth minute of stoppage time off a free kick to earn the visitors a point at Championship Soccer Stadium. Roots SC has now recorded a league-high five draws in 10 games and needs to start winning more consistently to try and bridge the five-point gap to the playoff positions it currently sees ahead of it.
Las Vegas Lights FC – Jorge Almaguer: The central midfielder has the tools to help Las Vegas succeed in what could be a major midfield battle with Oakland’s Joseph Nane.
Oakland Roots SC – Charlie Dennis: The English playmaker leads the Championship with 3.52 Expected Assists this season but has only one helper on the register. If Dennis keeps creating chances, it could provide the ammunition for Roots SC to take victory and rise in the standings.
Venue: Cardinale Stadium
Kickoff: 10 p.m. ET
538.com Predictor: MB 27%, RGV 45%, Draw 28%
The Lowdown: Monterey Bay F.C. will try to build on an inaugural home opener victory last Saturday night when it welcomes a Rio Grande Valley FC side that has lost its last two league outings to Cardinale Stadium. MBFC opened its new home in impressive style with the 1-0 win against Las Vegas Lights FC coming via a goal by El Salvador international Walmer Martinez for his first in the club’s colors. The first signing in Monterey Bay’s history last December, Martinez was part of a strong attacking display that was thwarted by Las Vegas goalkeeper Tomas Romero that could have given the crowd of more than 5,000 fans even more to get excited about at the scenic and intimate new venue. The Toros will try to spoil the party this time around after their late comeback effort came up short against Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC in their most recent outing on May 5. Goals by Franke Nodarse and Wahab Ackwei – both off set pieces by Isidro Martinez – pulled the Toros within a goal of their hosts at Weidner Field but the Switchbacks held on for a 3-2 win to keep the Toros in 11th place in the Western Conference.
Monterey Bay F.C. – Simon Dawkins: The English midfielder was unlucky not to claim the first goal in Cardinale Stadium’s history as his play across 73 minutes provided creativity in the final third he’ll be looking to continue this time out.
Rio Grande Valley FC – Isidro Martinez: The second-half substitute delivered two assists and seven chances created in 24 minutes against Colorado Springs, a performance that could get a recall to the starting lineup this time around.