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Gameday Previews – Wednesday, June 1

By Staff, 05/31/22, 10:30AM EDT


The new month kicks off with some key games around the playoff line in both conferences

Oakland Roots SC and Orange County SC will square off on Wednesday night both aiming to boost their playoff chances with a victory at Laney Stadium. | Photo courtesy Liza Rosales / Orange County SC

The third full month of the USL Championship season kicks off on Wednesday night with a trio of games that feature an important interconference matchup and a pair of rematches from earlier this season in both the Eastern and Western Conferences that include a pair of in-form strikers.

Here’s a look ahead to all the action.

Atlanta United 2 vs. Rio Grande Valley FC

Venue: Fifth Third Bank Stadium
Kickoff: 7:30 p.m. ET
Broadcast: ESPN+ Predictor: ATL 22%, RGV 53%, Draw 24%

The Lowdown: Atlanta United 2 and Rio Grande Valley FC will square off for a second consecutive season in interconference play with both teams looking to get back into the win column as they meet at Fifth Third Bank Stadium. Atlanta is looking to build on a solid defensive performance last time out as it played to a 0-0 draw with Orange County SC this past Friday, with defender Noah Cobb putting in a solid display for the hosts as it held the visitors to only one shot on target over the 90 minutes. The hosts are looking for their first win since April 2, however, with the side already sitting 10 points out of the playoff places in the Eastern Conference, and that could be a challenge against an RGVFC side that can move back above the playoff line if it picks up victory on the road. The Toros fell 3-2 to Western Conference leader San Antonio FC this past Saturday in the second edition of this year’s South Texas Derby despite goals from Juan David Cabezas and Duilio Herrera, who scored his first goal in the Championship late on. RGVFC claimed a 3-2 victory when the sides met last September in Texas as Jonas Fjeldberg scored the winner with 25 minutes to go, and with two more contests against teams below the playoff line to come next the Toros will be eager to make a run and assert their claim for a playoff position over the next two weeks.

Spotlight Players
Atlanta United 2 – Jackson Conway:
The young forward has recorded four goals this season and is the best chance for Atlanta’s attack to regain its form and earn a first victory in almost two months.

Rio Grande Valley FC – Isidro Martinez: The midfield playmaker has recorded three assists and 23 chances created so far this campaign and should have a major role to play as the Toros look to pick up three points on the road.

FC Tulsa vs. Tampa Bay Rowdies

Venue: ONEOK Field
Kickoff: 8:30 p.m. ET
Broadcast: ESPN+ Predictor: TUL 25%, TBR 51%, Draw 24%

The Lowdown: FC Tulsa will try to rebound from a tough road defeat this past weekend as it plays host to a Tampa Bay Rowdies side that is coming off back-to-back victories as it arrives at ONEOK Field to start the new month. Tulsa opened the scoring against Louisville City FC this past Saturday thanks to Brian Brown but eventually succumbed to a 4-1 defeat at Lynn Family Stadium, continuing the defensive struggles the side has faced this season. Tulsa has conceded the most goals in the Championship this season with 28 goals against in 12 games and sits second in the league on shots on target faced (69) and Expected Goals Against (21.6xGA), while goalkeeper Sean Lewis leads the league with 40 saves. The Rowdies will be aiming to add to those problems as they arrive having recorded eight goals in their past two outings against Phoenix Rising FC and Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC. Tampa Bay also took a 3-1 victory when it faced Tulsa for the first time this season on April 16 at Al Lang Stadium when Lewis Hilton’s early goal paved the way to victory for the hosts, and with the chance to close the gap to the top four teams in the East available the visitors will be eager to complete the season double over the Oklahoma side.

Player Spotlight
FC Tulsa – Lebo Moloto:
The experienced midfielder will need to put in a strong shift to try and not only contain Tampa Bay’s creative midfield but also deliver chances in the attacking third for the hosts.

Tampa Bay Rowdies – Jake LaCava: The young forward has led the Rowdies with six goals this season, including finding the net in each of the past three games, a streak he’ll be aiming to continue on the road.

Oakland Roots SC vs. Orange County SC

Venue: Laney Stadium
Kickoff: 10 p.m. ET
Broadcast: ESPN+ / SiriusXM FC Predictor: OAK 38%, OC 34%, Draw 28%

The Lowdown: Oakland Roots SC and Orange County SC will both try to boost their playoff hopes on Wednesday night after finishing all square in their most recent outings over the past weekend to remain below the postseason line in the Western Conference. Oakland rallied to take a 1-1 draw against NorCal rival Sacramento Republic FC this past Saturday at Laney Stadium as Ottar Magnus Karlsson scored his eighth goal of the season with nine minutes to go, extending the side’s undefeated run to four games. Karlsson’s eight tallies have him tied for the league-lead with San Diego Loyal SC’s Kyle Vassell, but Roots SC has now drawn seven of its 13 games this season with only two wins to sit three points out of the playoff positions. Orange County, meanwhile, is undefeated in its last five outings after playing to a 0-0 draw against Atlanta United 2 in Georgia this past Friday but is one point ahead of Oakland after taking only three wins in its first 11 contests this campaign. OCSC has seen positive attacking production from both Milan Iloski and Erick “Cubo” Torres, who each sit on five goals and one assist apiece. Wednesday marks the second meeting between these sides this season, with the first ending in a 2-2 draw at Championship Soccer Stadium on May 7 in a game that saw Roots SC rally from a two-goal deficit to level the game in second-half stoppage time through Karlsson. As both teams look to make the jump forward in the standings, all three points could be essential this time around.

Spotlight Players
Oakland Roots SC – Ottar Magnus Karlsson:
The Icelandic forward has scored in each of the past four games for Roots SC and will likely be central to its chances of claiming victory on home turf once again.

Orange County SC – Daniel Pedersen: The Danish midfielder has had a solid start with OCSC with a goal and two assists with 16 chances created and alongside Mikko Kuningas can be effective in the center of midfield for the visitors.

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