San Diego Loyal SC will try to build on its biggest win of the season as it faces defending title holder Orange County SC on Wednesday night at Torero Stadium. | Photo courtesy San Diego Loyal SC
Two of the top five teams in the USL Championship’s Western Conference are in action on Wednesday night as Week 17 continues, with a clash in the Copa Tejas series and an all-California contest highlighting the three-game night of action as June concludes.
Here’s a look ahead to all the action.
Venue: Patriots Point
Kickoff: 7:30 p.m. ET
538.com Predictor: CHS 58%, ATL 20%, Draw 22%
The Lowdown: The Charleston Battery will try to rebound from a setback last time out as they return home to face an Atlanta United 2 side looking to rebound after conceding three goals in each of its past two outings. The Battery fell 2-1 to FC Tulsa on Saturday night at ONEOK Field as the visitors were unable to overcome a two-goal deficit despite Romario Piggott’s goal late in the first half. Charleston has shown positive strides in recent contests, however, having taken four points from its prior two games with Augustine Williams sitting tied for 14th in the league with six goals this campaign. The hosts will be looking to assert that improvement after falling 4-1 to Atlanta in their prior meeting on March 27, when Matt Sheldon’s red card late in the first half paved the way to the visitors scoring four unanswered goals after the halftime break as Jackson Conway notched a hat trick. Atlanta would welcome a repeat of that performance, particularly on the defensive end, where the side has struggled of late. Saturday’s 3-1 defeat at Oakland Roots SC saw the side allow 29 shots – the most in a Championship game this season – and moved the side to a league-high in goals conceded (39) and Expected Goals Against (35.07xGA).
Charleston Battery – Mauro Cichero: The attacking midfielder notched his first assist of the season in Tulsa and could be on the hunt for his first goal since April 23 as the Battery look to move past Atlanta in the standings.
Atlanta United 2 – Jackson Conway: The young forward bagged a hat trick when the sides first met but has added only one more tally to his season total since then, a run the 20-year-old will be keen to break.
Venue: H-E-B Park
Kickoff: 8:30 p.m. ET
538.com Predictor: RGV 39%, ELP 34%, Draw 27%
The Lowdown: El Paso Locomotive FC will try to continue its seven-game undefeated streak as it heads to face Copa Tejas rival Rio Grande Valley FC, with the Toros returning to action as they try to build on victory last time out. RGVFC earned a 1-0 win against Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC on June 18 thanks to a first-half goal by Ricky Ruiz in its most recent outing before its contest last Wednesday night against New Mexico United was postponed due to inclement weather. The Toros could move back above the playoff line with a win on home turf, but to do so they’ll need to defeat an El Paso side that is among the best form teams in the league right now. Locomotive FC took a 5-0 victory against the New York Red Bulls II this past Saturday in a one-sided contest that saw the hosts score four times in the opening 36 minutes, with Eric Calvillo notching two goals and Josue Aaron Gomez a goal and two assists. El Paso has been among the best attacking teams in the league all season and is ties for the league-lead with 36 goals in 18 games. A win on Wednesday night could move the side into third place in the Western Conference as both teams look to gain ground on San Antonio FC in the Copa Tejas standings this season.
Rio Grande Valley FC – Emilio Ycaza: The central midfielder has notched four goals this season and could need to deliver a big performance to help the hosts stay organized against an El Paso side that leads the league in average possession this season.
El Paso Locomotive FC – Eric Calvillo: The El Salvador international has scored three goals in the past two games since returning from international duty and will be hoping to continue that run of form in South Texas.
Kickoff: 10 p.m. ET
Venue: Torero Stadium
538.com Predictor: SD 50%, OC 26%, Draw 24%
The Lowdown: San Diego Loyal SC will try to build on one of their biggest victories in the club’s short history when it faces defending title holder Orange County SC at Torero Stadium. SD Loyal ran away with a 5-0 victory against Indy Eleven last Saturday night as Kyle Vassell scored twice to move to 10 goals this season, and both Thomas Amang and Tumi Moshobane found the net. The victory saw San Diego remain in third place in the Western Conference standings, and it will now have the chance to claim consecutive victories for the first time since a three-game winning streak in early April while hoping to close the gap to the top two in the standings. Orange County is also looking for consecutive victories after taking a 3-1 win against Loudoun United FC on Saturday that broke a four-game losing streak that had begun to imperil the side’s postseason chances. Milan Iloski scored twice and Erick “Cubo” Torres once while goalkeeper Colin Shutler made a key penalty kick save early in the second half to send the side to its first victory since May 13, but Orange County remains eight points out of the playoff positions as it reached the midway point of its regular season campaign. Another win would help close that gap and provide momentum entering a key weekend contest at Phoenix Rising FC.
San Diego Loyal SC – Kyle Vassell: The former Northern Ireland international was outstanding once again in the side’s victory against Indy and will give the experienced back line of Orange County all it can handle.
Orange County SC – Milan Iloski: The 22-year-old forward has nine goals this season, putting him and Erick “Cubo” Torres as the highest-scoring attacking duo in the league with 17 combined goals this season.