Orange County SC and San Diego Loyal SC will meet for the second time this season on Saturday night with hosts OCSC looking to reverse a 2-1 loss in the first meeting. | Photo courtesy San Diego Loyal SC
2022 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup Finalist Sacramento Republic FC will make its first visit to Charleston on Saturday night as part of a 10-game slate of action that includes another intriguing interconference contest between El Paso Locomotive FC and Louisville City FC, and high-profile games in both the East and West that bring together teams currently above and below the playoff line.
Here’s a look ahead to all the action.
Venue: Trinity Health Stadium
Kickoff: 7 p.m. ET
538.com Predictor: HFD 29%, BHM 44%, Draw 27%
The Lowdown: Birmingham Legion FC will look to build on one of the biggest victories in club history as it heads to face Hartford Athletic after both teams saw action in midweek to begin Week 21. Legion FC notched a 6-1 victory on Wednesday night against Loudoun United FC as Bruno Lapa scored the first hat trick in club history, while Mataeo Bunbury and Grayson Dupont each scored their first goals for the club, as Birmingham matched its total for the most goals scored in a game in club history. The side had previously notched six goals in a 6-0 victory against Sporting Kansas City II on October 23, 2021, and the win moved Legion FC 10 points clear of eighth-placed FC Tulsa in the Eastern Conference standings as the side takes aim at a fourth consecutive postseason berth. The visitors can further solidify that likelihood against Hartford, which held firm for a 0-0 draw against Rio Grande Valley FC on Wednesday night as goalkeeper Yannik Oettl recorded an eight-save shutout at H-E-B Park, but the Athletic will be looking for a more aggressive display in the attacking third after registering just two shots against the Toros, and three shots overall over the past two games, as their playoff hopes diminish.
Hartford Athletic – Danny Barrera: The attacking playmaker has one goal and one assist this season and needs to find a way to jumpstart the club’s attack in the final third after consecutive disappointing attacking displays.
Birmingham Legion FC – Juan Agudelo: The former United States international scored his first goal for Legion FC when these sides met in April to help Birmingham to a 2-1 win at Protective Stadium, and should be fresh after being rested on Wednesday night.
Venue: Michael A. Carroll Stadium
Kickoff: 7 p.m. ET
538.com Predictor: IND 19%, TBR 56%, Draw 24%
The Lowdown: Indy Eleven will try to boost its playoff chances after earning a point last time out but will have to try and contain a Tampa Bay Rowdies side vying for first place in the Eastern Conference as it arrives at Michael A. Carroll Stadium on an 11-game undefeated streak. The Rowdies claimed a 2-0 victory against Indy when they last met on March 19 in a contest that saw then-Tampa Bay forward Juan Tejada score after just 34 seconds. Tejada last week made his first start for the Boys in Blue after a pair of transactions earlier this month between the clubs that sent the Panamanian forward to Indy, with English midfielder Nicky Law making the move to the Rowdies, as Indy played to a 1-1 draw with Memphis 901 FC. Solomon Asante scored his first goal for Indy to break the club’s scoreless streak at 459 minutes, notching his 50th regular-season goal in the Championship in the process. The Rowdies, meanwhile, claimed a 3-1 victory against Atlanta United 2 to move one point behind Louisville City FC in the Eastern Conference as Steevan Dos Santos had a pair of goals to move to 60 regular-season tallies for his career, while Leo Fernandes notched a goal and assist, moving him with three goals of the half-century mark as he nears his 150th regular-season appearance in the league.
Indy Eleven – Jared Timmer: The experienced defender will need to have a solid game as he and his teammates look to contain a Rowdies attack that has scored in 15 consecutive games on the way toward the top of the Eastern Conference.
Tampa Bay Rowdies – Lewis Hilton: The central midfielder has continued to be one of the essential pieces for Tampa Bay this season and will look for another solid two-way display on the road.
Venue: Highmark Stadium
Kickoff: 7 p.m. ET
538.com Predictor: PIT 65%, TUL 14%, Draw 21%
The Lowdown: Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC returns home aiming to continue its recent undefeated streak as it plays host to an FC Tulsa side that took a big road victory last time out in its drive to move back above the playoff line in the Eastern Conference. Tulsa defeated Birmingham Legion FC 2-0 last Saturday night at Protective Stadium as goals by Lebo Moloto and JJ Williams sent the side to victory. The goal was Williams’ last in Tulsa’s colors, however, after he was transferred to Phoenix Rising FC on Wednesday after notching nine goals this season. In a corresponding deal, Tulsa acquired winger Marcus Epps, who will be available for selection for the first time on Saturday. Pittsburgh, meanwhile, rallied to take a late 2-1 victory against Hartford Athletic as Shane Wiedt scored the winner in second-half stoppage time to give the Hounds their fourth win in the past five games. That run has moved Pittsburgh up to fourth place in the Eastern Conference and only two points behind Memphis 901 FC for third. With Memphis on a bye week, the Hounds would move into the top three with another victory on Saturday night.
Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC – Kenardo Forbes: The Jamaican veteran is tied for the league-lead with eight assists and will be aiming to add to his all-time tally as he tries to claim the Assists Champion crown for the first time in his career.
FC Tulsa – Lebo Moloto: The former Hound will return to Highmark Stadium, where he notched seven goals and eight assists in Pittsburgh’s colors, after scoring a fine long-range goal last time out for Tulsa.
Venue: Fifth Third Bank Stadium
Kickoff: 7:30 p.m. ET
538.com Predictor: ATL 36%, LV 39%, Draw 25%
The Lowdown: Las Vegas Lights FC will try to rebound from a midweek setback as it heads to face an Atlanta United 2 side that has lost its last three outings and is winless in five overall. Lights FC fell 2-0 to Western Conference leader San Antonio FC on Wednesday night at Cashman Field as attacking duo Cal Jennings and Danny Trejo were kept in check by the SAFC defense, but the side remained in sixth place in the conference standings after results elsewhere were positive for the club’s playoff chances. Las Vegas will look to make a second successful trip to the Eastern time zone this season after having defeated the Charleston Battery 2-1 on April 1 earlier this season as it visits Atlanta, which took the lead against the Tampa Bay Rowdies last Saturday night but eventually fell 3-1 for a third consecutive setback. Atlanta remains in 11th place in the Eastern Conference and is starting at a 16-point gap to the playoff places with only 12 games to play, essentially making this contest a must-win for the hosts. The side has claimed some notable results on home turf this season, however, including a 3-3 draw with Birmingham Legion FC in its last home outing on July 6.
Atlanta United 2 – Tristan Trager: The first-year professional notched his first assist for the side against Tampa Bay and has notched six goals so far in 11 appearances, making him someone Las Vegas’ defense will need to keep a close eye on.
Las Vegas Lights FC – Danny Crisostomo: The central midfielder has played a key role in Lights FC’s success this season, having recorded five assists and 33 chances created while possessing a passing accuracy rate of 89 percent.
Venue: Patriots Point
Kickoff: 7:30 p.m. ET
538.com Predictor: CHS 28%, SAC 45%, Draw 27%
The Lowdown: Sacramento Republic FC will visit the Charleston Battery for the first time in its history as the teams square off for only the second time in the league and first since 2014 after Republic FC’s historic result in the Semifinals of the 2022 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup on Wednesday night. Sacramento became the first team since the Battery in 2008 to advance to the Final as Danny Vitiello made a key save in the penalty shootout’s fifth round to allow Rodrigo Lopez to convert and send the hosts through against Major League Soccer’s Sporting Kansas City after the teams had played to a scoreless draw through 120 minutes at a sold-out Heart Health Park. Lopez scored twice when Sacramento took a 3-1 win on home turf when the teams met last on August 27, 2014, with Steven Evans scoring the other goal for the hosts and Colin Falvey finding the net for the Battery. Charleston is undefeated in its last two outings this season after AJ Paterson’s stoppage-time free kick earned a 3-3 draw at Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC, however, and will be hoping for another good home performance against the visitors.
Charleston Battery – Augustine Williams: The Sierra Leone international scored his 10th goal of the season last Friday night and has had prior success against Republic FC, scoring three goals and one assist in 10 prior contests.
Sacramento Republic FC – Carlos Saldaña: The goalkeeper recorded a seven-save shutout last Saturday night in Phoenix and could be called on against to give Danny Vitiello the night off after his standout Open Cup display in midweek.
Venue: Segra Field
Kickoff: 7:30 p.m. ET
538.com Predictor: LDN 34%, MB 40%, Draw 26%
The Lowdown: Monterey Bay F.C. will look to continue its recent four-game undefeated streak as it heads to face Loudoun United FC for the first time, with the hosts trying to find a way back into the win column after a heavy midweek defeat. Loudoun fell 6-1 against Birmingham Legion FC on Wednesday night as it conceded three penalty kicks and saw Houssou Landry sent off early in the second half. The game marked the third time a side had conceded three penalty kicks in a game since the start of the 2017 season, and the first since FC Tulsa in 2019. The visitors did find the net as United States youth international Kristian Fletcher scored his first goal in the professional ranks, but United will get a test from Monterey Bay as it looks to build on a 2-0 win against the New York Red Bulls II last Saturday night. Simon Dawkins scored his first goal for the club to open the scoring before Sam Gleadle added a second late, but the victory was most notable for the third consecutive shutout posted by the hosts at Cardinale Stadium. While still sitting in last place in the Western Conference, MBFC’s games in hand have kept it in with a chance to close the gap to the playoff places, and a victory in Virginia would be another major boost to those hopes.
Loudoun United FC – Skage Simonsen: The Norwegian forward had an assist and three chances created against Birmingham in midweek, continuing a solid season that has seen him score two goals and two assists in 11 games in the Championship.
Monterey Bay F.C. – Hunter Gorskie: The veteran has been a solid addition to Monterey Bay’s lineup, going the full 90 minutes in the past two outings since his arrival at the club as the visitors have found a solid run of form.
Venue: Toyota Field
Kickoff: 9 p.m. ET
538.com Predictor: SA 66%, LA 14%, Draw 20%
The Lowdown: San Antonio FC will take aim at a seventh consecutive victory and becoming the first team to reach 50 points this season as it plays host to the LA Galaxy II for the second meeting between the clubs this season. San Antonio earned its 10th road win of the season on Wednesday night in a 2-0 result against Las Vegas Lights FC that saw Samuel Adeniran score his fifth goal in seven games since joining the club after Saad Abdul-Salaam had opened the scoring at Cashman Field. Adeniran is now tied with Santiago Patiño with five goals, while SAFC’s six-game winning streak is a club record in league play. San Antonio has also notched four consecutive shutouts, putting its current streak at 414 minutes without conceding, but that record could be challenged by Los Dos, who have scored 15 goals in their past five games. The Galaxy II dropped below the playoff line last weekend, however, as they suffered a 5-2 defeat against Orange County SC despite Preston Judd notching his 12th goal of the season. Tied on points with seventh-placed Sacramento Republic FC in the Western Conference standings, the visitors will be eager to take something from their last regular-season visit to Toyota Field, where they have won only once all-time back during the 2016 season.
San Antonio FC – Mitchell Taintor: The standout defender found the net in SAFC’s 2-1 victory when it visited Dignity Health Sports Park earlier this season and will be aiming for another big performance.
LA Galaxy II – Jonathan Perez: The Mexico U-20 international recorded a goal and assist against Orange County and will be a player SAFC has to keep tabs on if he is available for selection on loan from the LA Galaxy.
Venue: Southwest University Park
Kickoff: 9:30 p.m. ET
538.com Predictor: ELP 30%, LOU 42%, Draw 27%
The Lowdown: El Paso Locomotive FC and Louisville City FC will square off for the first time in league action in their histories with the hosts looking to break their first two-game losing streak since March against the current Eastern Conference leader. Locomotive FC fell 1-0 at home to Western Conference leader and Copa Tejas rival San Antonio FC last Saturday night at Southwest University Park, marking the second consecutive outing in which the side was held scoreless. Locomotive FC remains in fifth place in the West, but with 11 games remaining it would boost its postseason chances with a positive result against a LouCity side that is undefeated in its last six outings after a 0-0 draw against Phoenix Rising FC on July 20. LouCity has gone 2-2-1 against Western Conference opposition so far this season, but could use a victory as its lead in the East has narrowed to only one point ahead of the Tampa Bay Rowdies as the weekend’s action begins. After claiming a 5-2 victory in preseason when the teams met in Arizona at the Mobile Mini Sun Cup, LouCity will be hoping its attack led by Wilson Harris – who returned to action as a second-half substitute against Phoenix – and dynamic winger Brian Ownby can carry the side to more road success.
El Paso Locomotive FC – Luis Solignac: The Argentine forward has received more red cards (2) than scored goals (1) in his past six appearances, and the hosts will hope their leading scorer can get back on track this weekend.
Louisville City FC – Amadou Dia: The veteran defender will be available for selection after serving a one-game suspension and bring experience of visiting Southwest University Park previously in his career that could prove invaluable in a difficult environment to play in.
Venue: Championship Soccer Stadium
Kickoff: 10 p.m. ET
538.com Predictor: OC 36%, SD 38%, Draw 26%
The Lowdown: Orange County SC will try to build on its best attacking performance on the road since the 2018 season as it plays host to second-place San Diego Loyal SC, which arrives after consecutive home victories in the past two weekends. OCSC took a 5-2 victory against the LA Galaxy II last Saturday night as Milan Iloski recorded two goals and two assists to claim Championship Player of the Week honors for the second time this season. The defending Championship title holders also saw Erick “Cubo” Torres find the net, while Iloski moved one goal off the league-lead with 14 this season as he continues an outstanding campaign. The result moved OCSC within eight points of the playoff positions with 13 games to go in the regular season, keeping the pressure on the side to deliver a strong late-season run to return to the postseason, but the hosts will be tested by an SD Loyal side that took a 2-1 win when the sides met on June 29 in the first of three meetings this season. Alejandro Guido scored both goals for San Diego that night in a game that saw both teams end with 10 players after SD Loyal’s Kyle Vassell and Orange County’s Ahmed Longmire were each sent off in the first half. San Diego claimed a 2-1 win in its last outing as well, defeating Rio Grande Valley FC as Tumi Moshobane and Evan Conway each notched a goal and assist to send the side into second place in the West. With a nine-point gap to make up to San Antonio FC, the visitors will be keen to claim a second win in the season series and keep its top-two spot going into next month.
Orange County SC – Dillon Powers: The veteran midfielder has made a pair of appearances since re-signing with OCSC this month and will face a challenging contest against SD Loyal’s midfield corps this time out.
San Diego Loyal SC – Tumi Moshobane: With six goals and six assists this season, Moshobane continues to provide a key attacking element for SD Loyal that has seen him scored four times in the past six appearances.
Venue: Wild Horse Pass
Kickoff: 10:30 p.m. ET
538.com Predictor: PHX 44%, COS 32%, Draw 24%
The Lowdown: Phoenix Rising FC will look to find its attacking form as it plays host to Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC for the first meeting between the clubs since the 2019 season, with the Switchbacks hoping for a better defensive display after conceding three times in each of their past two outings. Rising FC played to a third consecutive scoreless draw on Wednesday night as it ended all square against Oakland Roots SC at Laney Stadium with goalkeeper Ben Lundt posting a six-save shutout for the visitors. Lundt leads the Championship with 73 saves so far this season, while sitting tied for seventh with six shutouts, but the side remains five points back of Sacramento Republic FC for the seventh and final playoff place in the West with 13 games to go. Colorado Springs looked on track to claim victory last time out as Hadji Barry scored his 75th regular-season goal in the Championship but conceded a late equalizer in a 3-3 draw against the Charleston Battery at Weidner Field. The Switchbacks are now in third place in the Western Conference after their first draw of the season, nine points behind San Antonio FC in first place, and will be looking for a first victory away at Phoenix since the 2016 season.
Phoenix Rising FC – JJ Williams: The center forward was acquired on Wednesday via transfer from FC Tulsa and is eligible to make his debut on Saturday night having notched nine goals so far this season.
Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC – Jairo Henriquez: The El Salvador international made an immediate impact in his debut for the Switchbacks with a goal and assist after coming on as a second-half substitute, and could be in line for a first start this weekend.
Tag(s): News Game Previews San Antonio FC CO Spring Switchbacks LA Galaxy II Orange County SC Phoenix Rising FC Sacramento Republic FC FC Tulsa Charleston Battery Louisville City FC Pittsburgh Riverhounds Tampa Bay Rowdies Las Vegas Lights FC Birmingham Legion FC Atlanta United 2 Indy Eleven El Paso Locomotive FC Loudoun United FC Hartford Athletic San Diego Loyal SC Monterey Bay F.C.