Memphis 901 FC will host Detroit City FC on Saturday night in one of two top-five contests in the Eastern Conference on Saturday night. | Photo courtesy Jon DeBoer / Detroit City FC
A nationally televised clash on ESPN featuring one of the USL Championship’s perennial title contenders kicks off a full 11-game slate of action on Saturday to close Week 16, with two top-five contests in the Eastern Conference and the second edition of a new California rivalry also highlighting the day’s games.
Here’s a look ahead to all the action.
Venue: Trinity Health Stadium
Kickoff: 1 p.m. ET
538.com Predictor: HFD 28%, LOU 45%, Draw 26%
The Lowdown: ESPN’s national television spotlight heads to Trinity Health Stadium for a contest between Hartford Athletic and Louisville City FC that sees both teams coming off victories last time out as LouCity pursues first place in the Eastern Conference once again. LouCity claimed a 3-1 victory last Saturday night against defending title-holder Orange County SC as it scored twice from the penalty spot in the second half, with Sean Totsch and Wilson Harris both finding the net in the final 15 minutes. Harris’ goal was his eighth of the season, tied for second in the league, and the young forward has also notched three assists to play a key role in Louisville’s continued success this year. The visitors will be hoping for a repeat of their most recent visit to Hartford last, when LouCity won 4-2 as Brian Ownby, Cameron Lancaster and Jorge Gonzalez were among the scorers, but the Athletic could offer a solid challenge after delivering their most impressive performance of the season last time out. Hartford took a 3-0 win on the road against Atlanta United 2 last Saturday as Tom Brewitt recorded a goal and assist at Fifth Third Bank Stadium, while the attacking duo of Juan Carlos Obregon Jr. and Corey Hertzog could offer a test for LouCity’s sturdy defense. With a nine-point gap to make up to the playoff positions, there would be no better moment for Hartford to claim its first victory against LouCity in club history.
Hartford Athletic – Prince Saydee: The Liberian winger has recorded three assists this season and will need to be on his game to provide Obregon and Hertzog with chances against a strong Louisville back line.
Louisville City FC – Brian Ownby: The veteran winger found the net the last time LouCity visited Hartford and has notched three goals, two assists and 23 chances created so far this campaign.
Venue: Riccardo Silva Stadium
Kickoff: 7 p.m. ET
538.com Predictor: MIA 57%, LA 18%, Draw 24%
The Lowdown: Miami FC will try to break a four-game winless streak as it plays host to the LA Galaxy II for the first meeting between the clubs as Los Dos look for more consistency after a run of up-and-down recent form. Miami will return to action for the first time since a 2-1 defeat at home to in-state rival the Tampa Bay Rowdies on June 1 on Saturday night and has bolstered its attacking ranks as it tries to move back into the playoff positions in the Eastern Conference. On Wednesday, Miami announced the arrival of El Salvador international Joaquin Rivas to the club via transfer from FC Tulsa with the 30-year-old having recorded 28 goals in the Championship in his career. Rivas will look to boost an attack that has been held to two goals in its last three games and only 18 goals in 16 games overall this season against the Galaxy II, which arrives after suffering a 2-0 loss on the road against Sacramento Republic FC last Saturday night. Los Dos missed chances to grab the lead against its California rival early and paid the price to remain in 10th place in the Western Conference. The Galaxy II have alternated wins and losses in the past four games, however, and with a win could return to the playoff positions with Preston Judd sitting on seven goals this season after a hat trick in the club’s prior victory against Monterey Bay F.C. on June 15.
Miami FC – Aedan Stanley: The young defender has been a solid addition to Miami’s squad this season and will look to try and contain a solid counterattacking squad that the Galaxy II have at their disposal.
LA Galaxy II – Taylor Davila: The central midfielder has three goals and two assists this season but may get a strong test from the Miami midfield duo of Speedy Williams and Bolu Akinyode as he tries to deliver success for the visitors.
Venue: Highmark Stadium
Kickoff: 7 p.m. ET
538.com Predictor: PIT 38%, TBR 35%, Draw 28%
The Lowdown: The first of the night’s top-five matchups in the Eastern Conference brings together Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC and the Tampa Bay Rowdies for a contest between two sides in differing form in recent weeks. The Hounds return home looking to break a five-game winless streak that continued last Saturday night in a 1-0 defeat on the road against Rio Grande Valley FC. Pittsburgh now sits in fifth place in the Eastern Conference after being held scoreless in each of its past two outings, with the attack led by Championship all-time leading scorer Dane Kelly, Russell Cicerone and Alex Dixon having lost a little steam in recent weeks. The Rowdies, meanwhile, are undefeated in their last six games to move up to third place in the East after a slow start to their campaign. Tampa Bay was held to a 1-1 draw at home in its last outing against the Charleston Battery after Leo Fernandes had given the hosts the lead in the first half at Al Lang Stadium but will be aiming to take inspiration from the side’s 3-1 victory against Pittsburgh when the teams first met this season on May 21 in downtown St. Petersburg. On that occasion, the Rowdies rallied after Dixon’s early goal put the Hounds ahead with Jake LaCava, Fernandes and Lucky Mkosana all finding the net. Sitting three points ahead of Pittsburgh going into their second meeting, the Rowdies could put distance between themselves and the chasing pack as it reaches the midway point of its regular season schedule with a win.
Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC – Dane Kelly: The Jamaican forward leads the Hounds with six goals this season but has been held scoreless in his last seven appearances, a run he’ll be eager to end back on home turf.
Tampa Bay Rowdies – Thomas Vancaeyezeele: The former Hounds standout could face his former club after a recent move to Tampa Bay that has seen him slot into the right side of the Rowdies’ three-man back line.
Venue: Championship Soccer Stadium
Kickoff: 8 p.m. ET
538.com Predictor: OC 66%, LDN 13%, Draw 21%
The Lowdown: Orange County SC returns home in need of a victory as it plays host to a Loudoun United FC side looking for a second consecutive victory against a top Western Conference opponent. Loudoun arrives on the West Coast after a 4-3 win against Phoenix Rising FC last Saturday night at Segra Field that earned the club its second win in the past three games. A pair of goals by Abdellatif Aboukoura led United to victory as Sami Guediri and Tyler Freeman also found the net before the hosts withstood a late comeback from Rising FC. The result moved Loudoun seven points out of the playoff places in the Eastern Conference, one point fewer than the current deficit facing Orange County in the Western standings after the side suffered a fourth consecutive defeat last Saturday night in a 3-1 loss to Louisville City FC. Erick “Cubo” Torres scored late in the first half for the visitors at Lynn Family Stadium, but a pair of late penalty kicks for the hosts saw LouCity pull away to victory. OCSC’s losing streak is its longest since the 2014 Championship season and has put the side under pressure to earn victory at home as it looks to close the gap to the playoff places as the midway point of the season approaches.
Orange County SC – Ahmed Longmire: The Nashville SC loanee stepped into the back line for Orange County last time out for his professional debut and will be aiming for a sharper second outing if handed the start.
Loudoun United FC – Abdellatif Aboukoura: The 17-year-old has now scored four goals in five games since moving into the Loudoun lineup, averaging a goal every 63 minutes, and will be a player OCSC needs to keep an eye on.
Venue: ONEOK Field
Kickoff: 8:30 p.m. ET
538.com Predictor: TUL 46%, CHS 29%, 25%
The Lowdown: FC Tulsa returns home looking to rebound from a midweek defeat as it plays host to the Charleston Battery at ONEOK Field in a rematch of a contentious contest from the opening weekend of the 2022 season. The Battery earned a 1-0 victory against Tulsa on March 12 at Patriots Point as Augustine Williams scored an early goal before the visitors were reduced to 10 men in the second half when Rodrigo da Costa was sent off for his second yellow card, a decision that was rescinded by the Independent Review Panel in the days that followed. Tulsa may have that in the back of its mind as it tries to snap a six-game winless streak that continued Wednesday night in a 2-0 defeat at Eastern Conference leader Memphis 901 FC. The hosts may have new arrival Sean McFarlane available for selection for the first time as they try to find an attacking spark after being held scoreless in three consecutive outings. Charleston, meanwhile, has experienced a turnaround in form of late helped by Williams’ finishing. The Sierra Leone international bagged his sixth goal of the season last Saturday to earn the Battery a 1-1 draw against the Tampa Bay Rowdies as it tries to turn around after a poor overall start to the season. The Battery remain 12 points out of the playoff places going into Saturday’s game but could dent Tulsa’s postseason hopes further if they can claim a sweep of the season series between the sides.
FC Tulsa – Austin Wormell: Tulsa’s goalkeeper has allowed only three goals in four appearances this season and will be aiming to put in another strong display between the sticks against an improving Battery attack.
Charleston Battery – Matt Sheldon: The former FC Tulsa player will return with the Battery having made 13 appearances this season and recording 20 interceptions and 18 clearances on the visiting back line.
Venue: AutoZone Park
Kickoff: 8:30 p.m. ET
538.com Predictor: MEM 53%, DET 22%, Draw 25%
The Lowdown: Memphis 901 FC will aim to maintain its place at the top of the Eastern Conference as it plays host to fourth-placed Detroit City FC in the second of the night’s top-five contests in the conference. Memphis claimed a 2-0 victory against FC Tulsa on Wednesday night to kick off the week as Graham Smith and Derek Dodson each found the net to move the side two points ahead of Louisville City FC in the standings. Smith’s first-half finish came via Aaron Molloy’s third assist of the season, with the Irish midfielder having been one of the key pieces to the club’s success this season. 901 FC earned a 1-1 draw against Detroit earlier this season as it visited Keyworth Stadium when leading scorer Phillip Goodrum found the net in the first half before Pato Botello Faz leveled for Le Rouge with 17 minutes to go. The Mexican forward also found the net for DCFC last time out, opening the scoring in a 1-1 draw against El Paso Locomotive FC at Keyworth Stadium that extended the side’s winless run to three games. Detroit remains in the thick of the playoff positions, however, sitting only six points behind Memphis as both teams approach the midway point of the season, and the attractive styles of play delivered by both teams should make this a must-see contest in Saturday’s slate.
Memphis 901 FC – Jeremy Kelly: May’s Player of the Month in the Championship has yet to register a goal or assist in June but could be due a breakout moment as 901 FC looks for another home victory.
Detroit City FC – Francis Atuahene: The Ghanaian forward will return to AutoZone Park after competing for 901 FC a season ago and could get the chance to deliver a victory for the visitors.
Venue: Isotopes Park
Kickoff: 9 p.m. ET
538.com Predictor: NM 51%, BHM 23%, Draw 27%
The Lowdown: New Mexico United will try to claim its sixth consecutive victory as it welcomes Birmingham Legion FC to Isotopes Park for the first meeting between the teams. United returns to action for the first time since a 2-1 win on the road against Oakland Roots SC on June 15 after its contest on Wednesday night against Rio Grande Valley FC was rescheduled due to inclement weather. New Mexico’s run of form – the best in club history – has moved it up to fourth place in the Western Conference as the duo of Chris Wehan and Justin Portillo have helped drive the side forward. Wehan scored the game-winner in Oakland off a second assist of the season for Academy product Cristian Nava, giving the veteran standout four goals and one assist over the club’s current run. Birmingham arrives on a three-game winning streak of its own after a 1-0 win against Memphis 901 FC in its last outing on June 8 that saw Anderson Asiedu deliver a 90th-minute winner at Protective Stadium. Legion FC’s form has moved it above the playoff line in the Eastern Conference, and the side has conceded only one goal in the past four games, offering a potentially strong challenge to former player Neco Brett and New Mexico’s attack as the hosts aim to add to their current run of form.
New Mexico United – Neco Brett: The Jamaican recorded 27 goals for Legion FC over the past two seasons and will now face his former club after notching five goals for New Mexico so far this campaign.
Birmingham Legion FC – Phanuel Kavita: The veteran has played every minute of the season so far this campaign and will be aiming to continue Legion FC’s recent strong run of defensive form against United’s attack.
Venue: Southwest University Park
Kickoff: 9:30 p.m. ET
538.com Predictor: ELP 71%, NY 10%, Draw 20%
The Lowdown: El Paso Locomotive FC will aim to return to the win column as it returns home to face a New York Red Bulls II side that currently sits in last place in the Eastern Conference standings. Locomotive FC earned a 1-1 draw last Saturday against Detroit City FC as midfielder Eric Calvillo found the net to level in his first game back after international duty with El Salvador. El Paso is now on a six-game undefeated streak that has moved the side into a four-way tie for third place on 25 points in the Western Conference standings, with the side having conceded only twice in the past four games and Dylan Mares now sitting on five goals and five assists this season. New York, meanwhile, has struggled in front of goal for much of the season, and is coming off a 0-0 draw against FC Tulsa on June 15 that saw the side unable to convert the chances it created. The Red Bulls II sit with nine goals in 15 games, the fewest in the Championship this season, as they try to break a 13-game winless streak against an El Paso side that hasn’t lost at home since March.
El Paso Locomotive FC – Richie Ryan: The Irish veteran has helped set the tempo for El Paso in midfield this season, completing 777 passes and ranking in the top 10 in the league in passes attempted overall.
New York Red Bulls II – O’Vonte Mullings: The converted right back has notched three assists and seven chances created this season when joining the attack and could be a threat to El Paso if it pushes too far forward on the counter.
Venue: Cardinale Stadium
Kickoff: 10 p.m. ET
538.com Predictor: MB 28%, SAC 44%, Draw 28%
The Lowdown: Sacramento Republic FC will try to avoid a letdown against its new potential NorCal rival after its heroics in midweek in the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup as it visits Monterey Bay F.C. for the first time. Republic FC advanced to the Semifinals of the Open Cup for the first time as goals by Rodrigo Lopez and Luis Felipe Fernandes earned a 2-1 victory at Dignity Health Sports Park on Tuesday night. On Thursday, Sacramento was handed a home draw against Sporting Kansas City as it tries to become the first lower-division side to reach the Open Cup Final since the Charleston Battery in 2008. Sacramento has also won three games in a row in the league after a 2-0 result against the LA Galaxy II at Heart Health Park to move into a cluster of four teams on 25 points in the Western Conference playoff positions. It will try to claim a second win this season against Monterey Bay on Saturday as the hosts try to snap a three-game losing streak that continued on June 15 in a 3-2 loss to the Galaxy II, leaving the first-year club at the bottom of the Western standings. MBFC has claimed some notable wins in recent weeks, however, including against current Western leader Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC, and will be hoping to add another notable result to its resume in front of what should be a strong crowd at Cardinale Stadium.
Monterey Bay F.C. – Chase Boone: The young forward has led MBFC with four goals this season and will try to provide the attacking threat the hosts need against a strong Sacramento defensive unit.
Sacramento Republic FC – Luther Archimede: The Guadeloupe international found the net when the teams played for the first time this season and could get the start after a late cameo in Tuesday’s Open Cup victory.
Venue: Laney Stadium
Kickoff: 10 p.m. ET
538.com Predictor: OAK 67%, ATL 13%, Draw 19%
The Lowdown: Oakland Roots SC will look to build on a positive result on the road last time out as it plays host to Atlanta United 2 for the first meeting between the teams. Oakland earned a 1-1 draw on the road against San Antonio FC last Saturday night as Juan Carlos Azocar scored a first-half goal and goalkeeper Paul Blanchette delivered a six-save performance at Toyota Field. The result was Roots SC’s league-leading ninth draw of the season and left the side one point out of the playoff positions going into this weekend’s action, but the hosts will be hopeful of returning to the win column against an Atlanta side that has won only once on the road this season against Hartford Athletic on April 2. The visitors are coming off a 3-0 defeat to that same Hartford side a week ago to remain in 12th place in the Eastern Conference. The side had previously shown some attacking spark through the duo of Raimar and Robbie Mertz, however, and that duo could provide the biggest threat to Roots SC’s defense on Saturday night.
Oakland Roots SC – Ottar Magnus Karlsson: The Championship’s leading scorer with 10 goals has been without a goal in the past four games but could take change that against an Atlanta defense that has conceded a league-high 36 goals this season.
Atlanta United 2 – Jackson Conway: Atlanta’s leading scorer with four goals, Conway is looking for his first league goal since April 16 against Indy Eleven as the side heads west aiming for a positive result.
Venue: Torero Stadium
Kickoff: 10 p.m. ET
538.com Predictor: SD 54%, IND 23%, Draw 24%
The Lowdown: San Diego Loyal SC will try to rebound from defeat at home last time out as it plays host to an Indy Eleven side also coming off a setback last time out as it heads to Torero Stadium. SD Loyal fell 2-1 to Las Vegas Lights FC last Sunday afternoon as a brilliant first-half strike by Alejandro Guido was overturned by the visitors in the second half. The result kept San Diego in a four-way tie for third place in the Western Conference on 25 points as it tries to solidify its place in the playoff positions. Head Coach Landon Donovan’s side has had success against Eastern Conference opposition so far this season, however, going 3-2-1 in its six interconference games so far, as the side has received solid contributions from newcomer Kyle Vassell, who leads the team with seven goals this campaign. Indy, meanwhile, has faltered in its last two meetings against Western Conference opposition, including a 4-3 defeat last Saturday night against Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC at Weidner Field that saw Manuel Arteaga score twice, but the visitors unable to contain the Switchbacks’ impressive attack. Indy remains in the final playoff position in the Eastern Conference going into the weekend with Arteaga now sitting on five goals this season to sit second on the club to Stefano Pinho on seven. The Boys in Blue are awaiting the first goal in club colors from two-time Championship MVP Solomon Asante, however, with the Ghanaian having notched three assists in five appearances since his arrival. If it arrives on Saturday, it will mark Asante’s first goal against SD Loyal after making six prior appearances against them for Phoenix Rising FC previously.
San Diego Loyal SC – Charlie Adams: The central midfielder has recorded a goal and assist over the past two games and has been a positive two-way presence overall in his 10 appearances this campaign.
Indy Eleven – Jared Timmer: The center back has been consistently positive for much of the season but will be hoping to rebound from a sub-par performance in Colorado Springs against SD Loyal’s solid attack.
Tag(s): News Game Previews LA Galaxy II Orange County SC Sacramento Republic FC FC Tulsa Charleston Battery Louisville City FC New York Red Bulls II Pittsburgh Riverhounds Tampa Bay Rowdies Birmingham Legion FC Atlanta United 2 Indy Eleven Memphis 901 FC El Paso Locomotive FC New Mexico United Loudoun United FC Hartford Athletic San Diego Loyal SC Miami FC Oakland Roots SC Detroit City FC Monterey Bay F.C.