Monterey Bay F.C. was given just a 9 percent chance to win by fivethirtyeight.com before pulling off a 2-0 victory at Louisville City FC on Saturday night. | Photo courtesy Em-Dash Photography / Louisville City FC
Saturday night’s action in the USL Championship gave us the most surprising result of the season so far, another big comeback victory for one of the league’s major contenders, and plenty else to get stuck into.
Here’s what we learned from the night’s action.
There’s no two ways around it; on Saturday night, Monterey Bay F.C. pulled off the biggest upset of the USL Championship season so far, and one of the biggest in the league’s history.
The visiting side’s 2-0 victory against Eastern Conference leader and perennial title contender Louisville City FC on the road at Lynn Family Stadium behind goals from Mobi Fehr and Sam Gleadle was the longest shot to come in according to 538.com’s pregame predictor model, which gave MBFC a nine percent chance of taking all three points.
Lowest Pregame Odds on 538.com for a winning USL Championship side in 2022
9% – Monterey Bay F.C. at Louisville City FC
13% – Las Vegas Lights FC at El Paso Locomotive FC
17% – Las Vegas Lights FC vs. Phoenix Rising FC
18% – Monterey Bay F.C. at Oakland Roots SC
19% – Indy Eleven at Rio Grande Valley FC
As with any result of this kind, Monterey Bay had to ride its good fortune a little. LouCity was on top early and hit the crossbar through Jorge Gonzalez, while goalkeeper Dallas Jaye posted a four-save shutout. Overall, though, the visitors took their chances and LouCity for once didn’t – and didn’t create as much as they might have expected – giving MBFC what might stand as its best result all year.
It’s probably a habit Head Coach Neill Collins would prefer his Tampa Bay Rowdies side get out of, conceding the opening goal in games, but for a second consecutive week that didn’t stop the side from coming away with three points against a high-caliber opponent. At Al Lang Stadium on Saturday night it was Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC who were on the wrong end of a 3-1 defeat to the hosts as Jake LaCava and Leo Fernandes provided the decisive goals.
Both of those players played a key role in Tampa Bay’s romp past Phoenix Rising FC last weekend, with LaCava now sitting on six goals this season and Fernandes on two goals and three assists. The smartness with which Fernandes continues to play alongside LaCava, whose knack of being in the right spot at the right time is getting rewarded handsomely, made Tampa Bay the night’s biggest winner in the Eastern Conference alongside Detroit City FC.
The matchup between the defending USL Championship title holders Orange County SC and El Paso Locomotive FC was one we’d been anticipating could be full of entertainment, and we weren’t let down at all after a 2-2 draw that saw both teams lead and the big players on either side deliver. Luis Solignac had a goal and assist for Locomotive FC, United States U-20 international Diego Luna found the net and continued to show why he’s so highly regarded, and in the end Erick “Cubo” Torres delivered an equalizer for the hosts to leave honors even.
The result might not do too much for either side in the standings – and both need to keep picking up wins in the next few weeks – but in terms of what both teams can offer you certainly should have the return fixture in El Paso on October 8 circled.
Rio Grande Valley FC gave the fans the full experience of what its season has been like in 90 minutes on Saturday. The Toros missed an early penalty kick, conceded one late on in the first half, and still found a way to come back and take a 2-1 victory against San Diego Loyal SC at H-E-B Park to continue rollercoaster ride their season has been so far.
Emilio Ycaza’s two goals proved the difference, the first a brilliant long-range strike and the second appearing to creep over the line before SD Loyal’s Koke Vegas could claw it back on a corner kick four minutes later. The Toros still haven’t drawn this season, and now they’re above the playoff line despite still sitting with more losses than wins.
By the end of Saturday night, there were two players with seven goals this season leading the race of the USL Championship’s Golden Boot in Oakland Roots SC’s Ottar Magnus Karlsson and San Diego Loyal SC’s Kyle Vassell – both of whom scored from the penalty spot on Saturday – and then another six players on six goals right behind them in what’s becoming a crowded race.
Some of those names are familiar – Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC’s Dane Kelly and El Paso Locomotive FC’s Luis Solignac, for example – while others are having proper breakout campaigns – welcome, Tampa Bay Rowdies forward Jake LaCava and Orange County SC’s Milan Iloski. It’s got the potential to be wildly entertaining.
One of the Championship veterans brought in by Detroit City FC this offseason to add his expertise to the squad, Antoine Hoppenot keeps on delivering. With a goal and assist tonight in DCFC’s 3-1 win against Atlanta United 2, the 31-year-old now has two goals and three assists in his last three outings and is helping Le Rouge solidify their place as a side that no-one will be able to overlook as this season goes on.