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Gameday Previews – Saturday, May 21

By Staff, 05/20/22, 10:58AM EDT


High-profile contests across both conferences include a top-five clash in the East as Rowdies host Hounds

Photo courtesy Matt May / Tampa Bay Rowdies

Saturday night brings a eight-game slate of action in Week 11 the USL Championship regular season including a key game between two Eastern Conference contenders and some intriguing contests out west, including a visit from El Paso Locomotive FC to defending title holders Orange County SC and San Diego Loyal SC’s second trip in club history to the up-and-down Rio Grande Valley FC.

Here’s a look ahead to all the action.

Charleston Battery vs. Miami FC

Venue: Patriots Point
Kickoff: 7 p.m. ET
Broadcast: ESPN+ Predictor: CHS 29%, MIA 44%, Draw 28%

The Lowdown: The Charleston Battery will try to break an eight-game winless streak as they play host to Miami FC at Patriots Point as the visitors arrive after claiming a late draw on Wednesday night in their most recent outing. Miami grabbed a 1-1 draw with Detroit City FC at Riccardo Silva Stadium thanks to Adonijah Reid, who scored in the fifth minute of second-half stoppage time as his side avoided a second consecutive defeat. Reid was on the scoresheet the last time visited Charleston, too, scoring twice in a 4-0 victory last season that also saw Josh Perez find the net. The Battery will be hoping to avoid a repeat of that display as they try to rebound from a 2-0 defeat to New Mexico United last Saturday night on home turf that kept the side in 13th place in the Eastern Conference standings. Charleston has scored only six goals in the league so far this season with Augustine Williams, Aidan Apodaca and Mauro Cichero each scoring twice, and is in major need of a turnaround with the playoff positions already 10 points out of reach a quarter of the way through the season.

Spotlight Players
Charleston Battery – Matt Sheldon:
The Battery have recorded only one clean sheet so far this season in their opening-night victory. A solid performance from Sheldon and the rest of the back line would go a long way to earning a result here.

Miami FC – Pierre Da Silva: The 23-year-old has notched two goals and two assists this season but hasn’t found the scoresheet in the past three outings. Getting back among the goals would provide a solid boost to Miami’s current position.

Indy Eleven vs. New York Red Bulls II

Venue: Michael A. Carroll Stadium
Kickoff: 7 p.m. ET
Broadcast: ESPN+ Predictor: IND 59%, NY 16%, Draw 25%

The Lowdown: Indy Eleven will play host to the New York Red Bulls II for the first time since the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals of the 2019 USL Championship Playoffs on Saturday night with the hosts aiming to solidify its position in the playoff places this campaign. Indy saw a six-game undefeated streak come to an end last Saturday night as it fell 2-1 on the road against Memphis 901 FC as a second-half goal by Jonas Fjeldberg wasn’t enough to overcome a two-goal deficit. Boys in Blue have won their past three games on home turf, however, and Saturday could see the debut of new signing and two-time USL Championship Most Valuable Player Solomon Asante, who joined the squad in training as it began the new week. Asante would have a chance to record his 50th regular season goal in the Championship should he see action with the Ghanaian having recorded 49 goals and 41 assists in 113 regular season appearances for Phoenix Rising FC over the past four seasons. The Red Bulls II could also have a new face in action on Saturday as well with Adam Najem having signed with the club this week after competing for New York in preseason, bringing nine goals and 13 assists across 72 games previously in the Championship to the young side. The Red Bulls II currently sit at the bottom of the Eastern Conference standings after suffering three consecutive defeats that have extended its winless streak to eight games. The side scored twice last weekend as Jordan Adebayo-Smith and Illia Tyrkus found the net – with Tyrkus becoming the youngest goalscorer in the Championship so far this season in the process aged 16 years, 9 months, and 14 days old – but a late goal by Corey Hertzog lifted Hartford Athletic to a 3-2 victory to keep New York in the basement.

Spotlight Players
Indy Eleven – Manuel Arteaga:
The Venezuelan forward has recorded a pair of assists this season but could be the biggest beneficiary of Asante’s arrival. How the two begin to build chemistry in the final third will be something to watch.

New York Red Bulls II – O’Vonte Mullings: The rookie midfielder notched a pair of assists last weekend against Hartford and will need a strong performance if the visitors are to come away with a result on the road.

Detroit City FC vs. Atlanta United 2

Venue: Keyworth Stadium
Kickoff: 7:30 p.m. ET
Broadcast: ESPN+ Predictor: DET 59%, ATL 18%, Draw 23%

The Lowdown: Detroit City FC returns home to Keyworth Stadium for its second meeting this season with Atlanta United 2 as it tries to jump into second place in the Eastern Conference standings with another home win this season. Le Rouge was denied second place on Wednesday night as it was held to a 1-1 draw against Miami FC at Riccardo Silva Stadium as the hosts scored in the fifth minute of stoppage time to cancel out Antoine Hoppenot’s first-half goal. The tally moved Hoppenot to 35 regular-season goals in the Championship for his career, making him only the fourth player in league history to record at least 35 goals and 35 assists in the league’s regular season. Hoppenot was also on target when DCFC took a 4-0 victory against Atlanta when the sides met at Fifth Third Bank Stadium in April, with Pato Botello Faz, Stephen Carroll and Michael Bryant also finding the net in the first meeting between the sides. That proved the start of a four-game losing streak for Atlanta, which is coming off a 4-0 defeat to Louisville City FC on May 4 in its most recent outing. If the visitors are to turn the tables on DCFC this time around, they would become the first team to take victory at Keyworth Stadium this season, a daunting task as Detroit sits a point back of both Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC and Memphis 901 FC for second place in the Eastern Conference in its inaugural season in the league.

Spotlight Players
Detroit City FC – Rhys Williams:
The right winger has recorded three assists so far this season while also proving solid defensively with 15 interceptions and 26 tackles won alongside 20 completed dribbles.

Atlanta United 2 – Robbie Mertz: The experienced midfielder will need to play a major role in the battle for the center of the park as he goes up against one of the all-around standouts of the season so far in Detroit’s Maxi Rodriguez.

Louisville City FC vs. Monterey Bay F.C.

Venue: Lynn Family Stadium
Kickoff: 7:30 p.m. ET
Broadcast: ESPN+ Predictor: LOU 72%, MB 9%, Draw 19%

The Lowdown: Louisville City FC returns home aiming to rebound from its first loss of the 2022 season against first-year side Monterey Bay F.C. on Saturday night as it prepares for its Round of 16 clash in the 2022 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup against Nashville SC next Wednesday. LouCity fell 4-3 to the LA Galaxy II last Friday night after twice taking the lead through Ray Serrano and Niall McCabe at Dignity Health Sports Park as Cameron Dunbar scored twice for the hosts to end a 10-game undefeated run to start the season for the Eastern Conference leaders. LouCity is undefeated in its last nine games in the league across the regular season and playoffs, having won eight of those contests, at Lynn Family Stadium and will hope to continue that form against a Monterey Bay side that has struggled on the road this campaign. MBFC fell 2-1 to Rio Grande Valley FC last Saturday night in its second home game this season at Cardinale Stadium as the Toros rallied from a first-half deficit following Hugh Roberts’ opener for Monterey Bay, a result that kept it at the foot of the Western Conference standings going into this weekend’s action.

Spotlight Players
Louisville City FC – Wilson Harris:
The standout forward bagged his sixth league goal of the season against the Galaxy II to move into a five-way tie for the league lead and will be hoping to continue his strong campaign against an MBFC defense that has conceded a league-high 25 goals this season.

Monterey Bay F.C. – Hugh Roberts: The veteran defender has visited Lynn Family Stadium before with the Charlotte Independence, and that experience will be essential for the visitors if they’re to hold off LouCity’s attack. He could also prove a threat from set pieces, with two goals so far this season.

Tampa Bay Rowdies vs. Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC

Venue: Al Lang Stadium
Kickoff: 7:30 p.m. ET
Broadcast: ESPN+ Predictor: TBR 49%, PIT 24%, Draw 27%

The Lowdown: The Tampa Bay Rowdies will try to build on their biggest win of the season last Sunday night as they return home for a top-five clash in the Eastern Conference against Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC. The Rowdies romped to a 5-1 win against Phoenix Rising FC at Wild Horse Pass in their last outing, becoming the first team to score five goals on the road against Phoenix in its history, as Jake LaCava recorded a goal and assist and Dayonn Harris and Jake Areman also found the net. Tampa Bay is now six points back of the Hounds, who enter the contest in second place in the Eastern Conference after a second consecutive 1-0 victory last Saturday night against El Paso Locomotive FC. Russell Cicerone scored his third goal of the season for the only goal of the game as goalkeeper Kevin Silva made a late penalty kick save to preserve the result at Highmark Stadium. The Hounds are undefeated in their last three outings overall against the Rowdies, with their most recent meeting last October marking the end of Tampa Bay’s record-setting 891-minute shutout streak as Tommy Williamson and Cicerone each found the net in a 2-0 win. The Rowdies will be hoping to flip that result around this Saturday as they try to close the gap to the top four.

Spotlight Players
Tampa Bay Rowdies – Lewis Hilton:
The dynamic midfielder recorded his first assist of the season against Phoenix his two-way play will be key against a strong Pittsburgh midfield corps including all-time assists leader Kenardo Forbes.

Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC – Alex Dixon: The veteran winger is tied for the team high with four assists this season alongside Forbes and his potential battle with Rowdies defender Aaron Guillen will be one to watch closely.

Rio Grande Valley FC vs. San Diego Loyal SC

Venue: H-E-B Park
Kickoff: 8:30 p.m. ET
Broadcast: ESPN+ Predictor: RGV 40%, SD 34%, Draw 26%

The Lowdown: Rio Grande Valley FC will welcome San Diego Loyal SC to H-E-B Park for the second time in their histories on Saturday night as the hosts try to build on a strong road victory last time out. The Toros took a 2-1 win against Monterey Bay F.C. at Cardinale Stadium last Saturday as goals late in the first half by Emilio Ycaza and Robert Coronado lifted the side to victory. The result continued RGVFC’s up-and-down form this season, with the side one of only three in the Western Conference yet to draw a game with a 4-6-0 record. That inconsistency has put the Toros currently in 11th place in the Western Conference, eight points back of SD Loyal in third place as the visitors return to action after the postponement of their most recent contest last weekend. San Diego will be hoping to reverse the result from its prior visit to South Texas which saw the Toros take a 1-0 win early last season, and the visitors could have the firepower to pull that off with the side sitting on 22 goals in 10 games this season. Kyle Vassell has led the way for the visitors with six goals, tied for the league lead. San Diego will be hoping that form continues as it tries to close the gap to Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC and San Antonio FC at the top of the Western standings.

Spotlight Players
Rio Grande Valley FC – Isidro Martinez:
The midfielder has recorded three assists and 21 chances created so far this season and will need to put in a solid display against a good SD Loyal midfielder lineup.

San Diego Loyal SC – Kyle Adams: The New Zealand center back will return to face his former club, where he made 36 appearances over two seasons, and try to contain the Toros attack led by Frank Lopez.

Oakland Roots SC vs. LA Galaxy II

Venue: Laney Stadium
Kickoff: 10 p.m. ET
Broadcast: ESPN+ Predictor: OAK 55%, LA 21%, Draw 24%

The Lowdown: Oakland Roots SC will try to get back into the win column as it plays host to an LA Galaxy II side that has seen its form fluctuate from home and away so far this campaign. Oakland drew for the third time in a four-game winless streak last Saturday night as it was held to a 1-1 result by Las Vegas Lights FC at Cashman Field. Ottar Magnus Karlsson put Roots SC ahead in just the third minute, but the visitors were unable to add to their lead before Alex Lara leveled for Las Vegas midway through the first half, and unable to find a winner as they were forced to settle for a league-high sixth draw of the season. The Galaxy II, meanwhile, are coming off a 5-0 defeat against Memphis 901 FC on Wednesday night that continued the up-and-down nature of its season. Los Dos have claimed home victories against both Phoenix Rising FC and Louisville City FC this campaign but remain winless on the road with an 0-4-2 record after its most recent defeat. The Galaxy II did claim victory when it last visited Oakland, however, as Taylor Davila recorded the only goal on a penalty kick last season at Laney Stadium, a result the host will be eager to avoid this time around.

Spotlight Players
Oakland Roots SC – Ottar Magnus Karlsson:
The Venezia FC loanee is tied for the league-lead with six goals this season and will be hoping to add to the defensive woes Los Dos have experienced so far this campaign.

LA Galaxy II – Cameron Dunbar: The 19-year-old forward has recorded three goals and two assists this season and his speed and chemistry with Preston Judd should keep Oakland’s hands full defensively.

Orange County SC vs. El Paso Locomotive FC

Venue: Championship Soccer Stadium
Kickoff: 10 p.m. ET
Broadcast: ESPN+ Predictor: OC 41%, ELP 32%, Draw 27%

The Lowdown: One of the most intriguing contests of Saturday’s slate brings together the defending title holders Orange County SC and El Paso Locomotive FC as both teams look to build on victories last time out in their first meeting this campaign. Orange County ran away with a 5-1 victory last Friday night against FC Tulsa behind five first-half goals as Milan Iloski recorded his first career hat trick and the fourth in OCSC history. The performance marked the second time Orange County had recorded five goals in a single half in club history and moved the side back within three points of the playoff positions in the Western Conference as it evened its record this season at 3-3-3. El Paso currently sits above the playoff line, meanwhile, as it claimed its fourth win in its last five games after a 1-0 victory against Sacramento Republic FC on Wednesday night thanks to Andrew Fox’s second-half goal. Locomotive FC earned a 2-2 draw in its most recent visit to Orange County last season as Leandro Carrijo scored a late equalizer for the side. Orange County is undefeated in the last three meetings overall between the teams, though, with El Paso’s lone win having come in their first meeting in March 2019.

Spotlight Players
Orange County SC – Erick “Cubo” Torres:
The former Mexico international bagged the first goal for the side against FC Tulsa to move to four tallies so far this campaign as he continues to settle into OCSC’s lineup.

El Paso Locomotive FC – Diego Luna: The United States U-20 international has been a must-see player this season for Locomotive FC but will need to challenge a strong midfield and defensive corps for the hosts.

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