Monterey Bay F.C. and Oakland Roots SC square off for the second time on Saturday, part of a busy slate of action across the USL Championship. | Photo courtesy Oakland Roots SC
Crucial contests in the race for the playoffs in the Eastern and Western Conferences, and some notable interconference matchups, highlight a 10-game slate on Saturday night across the USL Championship.
Here’s a look at all the action.
Venue: Patriots Point
Kickoff: 7 p.m. ET
538.com Predictor: CHS 34%, IND 38%, Draw 28%
The Lowdown: Both the Charleston Battery and Indy Eleven will be aiming to get back in the win column as they square off for the first time since the 2019 season at Patriots Point. The Battery earned a point in their most recent outing as Joe Kuzminsky became only the second goalkeeper in USL Championship history to score for his side, bagging a stoppage-time equalizer in a 1-1 draw against Loudoun United FC last Saturday night at Segra Field. The result broke a four-game losing streak for Charleston, but the side is still winless in its last 10 games overall and sits at the foot of the Eastern Conference standings. Indy suffered a 2-1 defeat in its most recent outing to New Mexico United last Saturday as an own goal by Indy defender Mechack Jerome proved the difference in United’s victory at Michael A. Carroll Stadium. The contest did mark the first assist since his arrival at Indy of attacking playmaker Solomon Asante, who notched his 42nd regular-season helper on Stefano Pinho’s second-half goal, and the continued integration of the Ghanaian into the lineup could help the Boys in Blue rebound as they look to maintain their place above the playoff line in the Eastern Conference. Indy will be without some notable names due to international duty, however, including Trinidad and Tobago players Neveal Hackshaw and Noah Powder as they try to reverse the 1-0 defeat they suffered on their last trip to Charleston three years ago.
Charleston Battery – Leland Archer: The Trinidad and Tobago defender was excluded from the Soca Warriors squad for Concacaf Nations League but has been one of the Battery’s most consistent performers over the past month and will need to help contain Indy’s solid attack.
Indy Eleven – Solomon Asante: After picking up his first assist in Indy’s colors, Asante will take aim at his first goal for the club, which would mark his 50th regular-season goal in the Championship for his career.
Venue: Highmark Stadium
Kickoff: 7 p.m. ET
538.com Predictor: PIT 57%, DET 19%, Draw 24%
The Lowdown: Two of the top four teams in the Eastern Conference will square off for the second time this season as Detroit City FC makes its first visit to Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC on Saturday night. Le Rouge return to action with a one-point lead over the Hounds after a bye last weekend and enter on a three-game undefeated streak having taken a 3-1 win against Atlanta United 2 at Keyworth Stadium in its most recent outing. Antoine Hoppenot had a goal and assist in that contest to cap a standout month in which he recorded two goals and three assists in three appearances to earn nomination for the Championship’s Player of the Month award. Pittsburgh, meanwhile, is coming off a 2-2 draw on the road against Miami FC that saw both Russell Cicerone and Alex Dixon record a goal and assist apiece. Dixon’s helper moved him to 29 regular-season assists for his career, putting him on the verge of becoming the next player to surpass 40 goals and 30 assists in the league’s regular season overall. These sides played to a 1-1 draw when they first met this season as Albert Dikwa opened the scoring for the visitors at Keyworth Stadium before Maxi Rodriguez leveled from the penalty spot in the second half, and we could see a similarly close contest this time around on the banks of the Monongahela.
Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC – Shane Wiedt: The center back is likely to return to action for the hosts with Mekeil Williams on international duty for Trinidad and Tobago as the Hounds look to contain DCFC’s solid attack.
Detroit City FC – Michael Bryant: The midfielder has notched three goals in nine appearances this season and can be a danger joining the attack that Pittsburgh will need to account for should he earn another start.
Venue: ONEOK Field
Kickoff: 8:30 p.m. ET
538.com Predictor: TUL 33%, MIA 41%, Draw 26%
The Lowdown: FC Tulsa will try to build on a morale-boosting result in midweek as it faces its second visitors from Florida this week as Miami FC arrives at ONEOK Field for the first meeting between the two sides in their histories. Tulsa grabbed a 1-1 draw against the Tampa Bay Rowdies on home turf on Wednesday night as Rodrigo da Costa scored with seven minutes to go after coming on as a second-half substitute. The standout performance of the night came from goalkeeper Austin Wormell, however, who recorded a seven-save performance in his first start of the season to keep the Rowdies at bay despite plenty of pressure from the visitors. Miami could deliver a similar threat in the attacking third having scored six goals in its past two outings, but the visitors were held to a 2-2 draw by Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC last Saturday night in their most recent outing as they twice let leads slip at Riccardo Silva Stadium. Miami is undefeated in its last three outings and currently sits in sixth place in the Eastern Conference with Florian Valot having recorded one goal and three assists, putting the side six points ahead of Tulsa in what feels like an early six-pointer around the playoff line.
FC Tulsa – Dario Suarez: The Cuban winger has recorded one goal and one assist so far this season but could relish the opportunity to face his former club and boost Tulsa’s playoff chances in the process.
Miami FC – Bolu Akinyode: The central midfielder recently passed 200 professional appearances for his career overall and will need to play a big role with Speedy Williams absent due to international duty with Jamaica.
Venue: AutoZone Park
Kickoff: 8:30 p.m. ET
538.com Predictor: MEM 68%, ATL 13%, Draw 19%
The Lowdown: Memphis 901 FC will take aim at its fifth consecutive victory as it plays host to Atlanta United 2 as it seeks to keep the pressure on Louisville City FC at the top of the Eastern Conference standings. Memphis ran through May with four wins out of four, with the side taking a 3-0 victory on the road against Loudoun United FC in its most recent outing on May 22 at Segra Field as Phillip Goodrum and Jeremy Kelly each recorded a goal and assist. Kelly recorded three goals and three assists overall in May to earn nomination for the Championship’s Player of the Month award on Thursday, and currently leads the Championship with six assists this season overall. 901 FC’s attack will try to break down an Atlanta side that is coming off a heartbreaking 4-3 defeat on Wednesday night against Rio Grande Valley FC in which it rallied back from a two-goal deficit to take the lead midway through the second half behind a pair of goals by Robbie Mertz and a goal and two assists from Raimar only to concede twice in the final 15 minutes as the Toros grabbed victory. Atlanta has now conceded the second-most goals in the Championship this season (27) as it heads to face one of the league’s best attacks in search of a result.
Memphis 901 FC – Phillip Goodrum: The former Atlanta United FC forward has recorded two goals and two assists over the past two outings and will likely be keen to cause problems for his former teammates as they visit.
Atlanta United 2 – Robbie Mertz: The central midfielder produced a fine display on Wednesday night only for the side to fall, but his likely battle against 901 FC’s Aaron Molloy should be one worth watching.
Venue: H-E-B Park
Kickoff: 8:30 p.m. ET
538.com Predictor: RGV 58%, LA 19%, Draw 23%
The Lowdown: Rio Grande Valley FC will look to build on a thrilling midweek victory as it returns home to face the LA Galaxy II in the second meeting between the sides this season. The Toros claimed a seven-goal thriller against Atlanta United 2 on Wednesday night, first taking the lead on goals by Emilio Ycaza and Adolfo Hernandez before falling behind after conceding three times to their hosts at Fifth Third Bank Stadium before a pair of late goals by Robert Coronado rallied the side to a 4-3 win. The result pushed the Toros above the playoff line in the Western Conference going into the weekend’s action, and gave the side a chance to even its win-loss record against LA with RGVFC having won six and lost seven so far this campaign. One of those defeats came against Los Dos at Dignity Health Sports Park on March 23 as Taylor Davila scored the only goal in a 1-0 win for the Galaxy II. LA is coming off a late rally of its own as it scored twice in second-half stoppage time to earn a 2-2 draw against San Diego Loyal SC in its last outing, but Los Dos have struggled so far on the road this campaign, going 0-5-2 on their travels, something the Toros will look to continue.
Rio Grande Valley FC – Jose Francisco Torres: The former United States international recorded his first two assists for the Toros on Coronado’s goals against Atlanta after injury curtailed the start of his season, and could make his first start for the side against LA.
LA Galaxy II – Taylor Davila: The midfielder has recorded three goals and one assist this season and could have a key role to play should he return to the starting lineup on the road as Los Dos try to close the gap to the playoff places.
Venue: Championship Soccer Stadium
Kickoff: 9 p.m. ET
Broadcast: ESPN Deportes / ESPN+
538.com Predictor: OC 39%, NM 33%, Draw 28%
The Lowdown: Orange County SC will try to rebound from a deflating midweek setback as it plays host to a New Mexico United side that has begun to find its form to move above the playoff line in a nationally televised clash on ESPN Deportes. Orange County suffered a 3-2 defeat on Wednesday night against Oakland Roots SC as it conceded twice in second-half stoppage time after goals by Erick “Cubo” Torres and Albi Skendi had given the side a second-half lead at Laney Stadium. The result snapped a five-game undefeated streak for Orange County, but the three draws in that run continue to leave the defending title holders outside the playoff positions in the Western Conference one-third of the way through the season. New Mexico, meanwhile, is coming off an undefeated month that has seen the side win its last three outings as it arrives in California with former OCSC midfielder Chris Wehan having played a notable role in that run. Wehan has recorded two goals and one assists in the past three games, while Justin Portillo claimed Week 12 Player of the Week honors after recording three goals and one assist in New Mexico’s last two wins. United now sits in sixth place in the standings, a spot it will be aiming to build on as it starts the new month.
Orange County SC – Albi Skendi: The Albanian defender has proven a factor at set pieces this season but will need to be sharp alongside his defensive teammates to contain a strong New Mexico attack.
New Mexico United – Chris Wehan: The Orange County native returned to his hometown club briefly at the start of last season before a mid-year transfer back to New Mexico and will be hoping to continue his rich run of recent form in familiar surroundings.
Venue: Southwest University Park
Kickoff: 9:30 p.m. ET
538.com Predictor: ELP 59%, HFD 18%, Draw 23%
The Lowdown: El Paso Locomotive FC will begin life after Diego Luna on Saturday night as it plays host to Hartford Athletic in the first meeting between the clubs with the hosts aiming to build on a solid result last time out. Locomotive FC earned a 1-0 victory on the road against Las Vegas Lights FC last Friday night as Dylan Mares scored the only goal of the game. The visitors earned the result despite playing the second half down to 10 men after Luis Solignac was sent off late in the first half, with the Argentine set to miss Saturday’s game as he serves a one-game suspension. El Paso will also be without Luna, whose transfer to Real Salt Lake of Major League Soccer was officially announced on Thursday, sending the 18-year-old standout to the top flight after an outstanding season-plus in Locomotive FC’s colors. Hartford, meanwhile, will be hoping to rebound after falling 2-1 to Phoenix Rising FC last Saturday night at Trinity Health Stadium. The Athletic have yet to win away from home this season, but bring with them some notable experience including playmaker Danny Barrera and forward Corey Hertzog, both of whom could offer challenges to an El Paso defensive unit that has shown greater solidity over the past month.
El Paso Locomotive FC – Josue Aaron Gomez: The Mexican forward has logged three goals and four assists this season, and in the absence of Solignac and Luna will likely have a key role to play in leading El Paso’s attack.
Hartford Athletic – Modou Jadama: The experienced defender will need to put in a solid shift with his teammates on the back line to stand up to one of the most high-scoring attacks in the league this season.
Venue: Cardinale Stadium
Kickoff: 10 p.m. ET
538.com Predictor: MB 33%, OAK 40%, Draw 27%
The Lowdown: Oakland Roots SC will try to build on a remarkable late victory in midweek as it heads to face Monterey Bay F.C. in the second meeting between the potential NorCal rivals this season. Oakland grabbed a dramatic 3-2 victory against Orange County SC at Laney Stadium on Wednesday night as Juan Carlos Azocar and Ottar Magnus Karlsson each scored in second-half stoppage time to rally the hosts to victory against the defending title holders. Karlsson’s game-winning free kick in the fifth minute of added time was his second goal of the game and moved the Icelandic forward to 10 goals this season, putting him into the lead in the race for the Championship’s Golden Boot. Monterey Bay also claimed victory last time out, taking a 4-2 win against Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC last Saturday at Cardinale Stadium as four different players found the net, with Chase Boone’s team-leading fourth goal of the season capping the performance. There was late drama when these teams met for the first time, too, as Monterey Bay claimed its first win in club history at Laney Stadium on March 26 behind a 90th-minute winner by Hugh Roberts that earned a 3-2 victory. After taking two wins from three in its opening games at Cardinale Stadium, the hosts will be hoping for a repeat result this time around.
Monterey Bay F.C. – Christian Volesky: The veteran forward has notched assists in back-to-back games, both on goals by Sam Gleadle, with his hold-up play in the front-line giving Monterey Bay’s attack a solid foundation.
Oakland Roots SC – Juan Carlos Azocar: The Venezuelan winger’s goal sparked Oakland’s comeback on Wednesday night, giving him three tallies this season, and he should pose a threat to the hosts on the left side.
Venue: Wild Horse Pass
Kickoff: 10:30 p.m. ET
538.com Predictor: PHX 44%, BHM 31%, Draw 25%
The Lowdown: Phoenix Rising FC will return home looking to build on a positive result last time out as it faces Birmingham Legion FC for the first time in an interconference clash at Wild Horse Pass. Rising FC took a 2-1 victory on the road against Hartford Athletic in its last outing this past Saturday as goals by Kevon Lambert and Greg Hurst rallied the side to victory. The side is set to be without Lambert on Saturday, with the midfielder having been called up by Jamaica for international duty, but Rising FC should still be solid in the middle of the park with Luis Manuel Seijas continuing to shine after taking Team of the Week honors in Week 12. Sitting in fourth place in the Western Conference, Phoenix will look to build on its last outing against a Birmingham side that also picked up victory last time out but that has struggled with its finishing overall this campaign. Legion FC took a 2-1 win against the New York Red Bulls II last Friday night at MSU Soccer Park as Marlon scored the winner with nine minutes to go, but the result marked only the fourth multi-goal outing in 12 contests for the side this season. Legion FC has been led this season by Prosper Kasim with three goals and two assists this campaign, but the visitors could need to put in a big display to pick up a result on the road.
Phoenix Rising FC – Greg Hurst: The Scottish forward bagged his fifth goal of the season to move into a tie with Luis Manuel Seijas for the team lead against Hartford and will try to add to that tally back on home turf.
Birmingham Legion FC – Zach Herivaux: The central midfielder will need to have a strong performance against the potential attacking drivers for Rising FC of Seijas and Arturo Rodriguez if the visitors are to earn a result.
Venue: Heart Health Park
Kickoff: 11 p.m. ET
538.com Predictor: SAC 32%, SA 40%, Draw 28%
The Lowdown: Western Conference leader San Antonio FC will try to become the first team to defeat Sacramento Republic FC at Heart Health Park this season as the two sides square off in one of Saturday’s marquee matchups. SAFC has won consecutive games as it arrives in California after a 3-2 victory in the South Texas Derby last Saturday night that saw Justin Dhillon scored a pair of goals at H-E-B Park. Dhillon is now tied for the team-lead with four goals this season alongside Elliot Collier and center back Mitchell Taintor, who also scored against the Toros as he continues to be a threat from set pieces for the side. SAFC has won only once in five prior visits to Heart Health Park in its history, however, with Republic FC currently undefeated in nine games across the league and Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup this season on its home turf. Sacramento played to a 1-1 draw on the road against Oakland Roots SC in its most recent outing last Saturday, though, as Luis Felipe Fernandes’ first-half goal was cancelled out by a second-half penalty kick for the hosts at Laney Stadium, and that result combined with Rio Grande Valley FC’s midweek victory sees Republic FC now below the playoff line going into the weekend. That makes victory all the more important for the hosts as they complete the first third of their campaign on Saturday.
Sacramento Republic FC – Luis Felipe Fernandes: The influential midfielder has scored in consecutive games in all competitions and will need to put up a big performance against a strong San Antonio midfield group.
San Antonio FC – Mitchell Taintor: The center back has already recorded a single-season high with four goals in 11 appearances this campaign and will be someone Sacramento has to account for on set pieces when SAFC gets the chance to attack.
Tag(s): Game Previews San Antonio FC LA Galaxy II Orange County SC Phoenix Rising FC Rio Grande Valley FC Sacramento Republic FC FC Tulsa Charleston Battery Louisville City FC Pittsburgh Riverhounds Tampa Bay Rowdies Birmingham Legion FC Atlanta United 2 Indy Eleven Memphis 901 FC El Paso Locomotive FC New Mexico United Hartford Athletic The Miami FC Oakland Roots SC Detroit City FC Monterey Bay F.C.