Miami FC will square off with FC Tulsa at Riccardo Silva Stadium on Wednesday night looking to add to victory in its last two outings. | Photo courtesy FC Tulsa
The two teams separated by the playoff line in the USL Championship’s Eastern Conference square off on Wednesday night in a key game to determine the direction of the playoff race moving forward, while the top two teams in the Western Conference are back in action with San Diego Loyal SC playing host to a surging Monterey Bay F.C. to close out its homestand.
Here’s a look ahead to the action.
Venue: Riccardo Silva Stadium
Kickoff: 7 p.m. ET
538.com Predictor: MIA 54%, TUL 21%, Draw 24%
The Lowdown: Miami FC will try to build on a big road victory last time out and increase its lead over the teams currently below the playoff line in the Eastern Conference as it plays host to eighth-placed FC Tulsa, which needs a victory to try and bridge the current nine-point gap between the two clubs. Miami earned a 3-0 victory against New Mexico United this past Saturday night in its last outing as Kyle Murphy scored twice to lead the side to victory. The goals moved Murphy to 50 regular season tallies in the Championship for his career and gave Miami its third victory in a current four-game undefeated streak. The hosts would move into sixth place in the East, passing Detroit City FC, with a victory on Wednesday night, a result Tulsa needs to avoid if it’s to have a chance at returning to the postseason for a third consecutive season. The visitors have alternated wins and losses in their last four outings, falling 1-0 to Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC on July 30 in their most recent outing. Tulsa will be hoping its recent arrivals – including Sean McFarlane, who joined the side from Miami as part of a pair of transactions that saw El Salvador international Joaquin Rivas head to South Florida – can help turn the tide and make it a six-point deficit going into this weekend’s action.
Miami FC – Joaquin Rivas: The El Salvador international notched an assist in Miami’s victory in New Mexico and will be hunting for his first goal for his new club against his former teammates.
FC Tulsa – Lebo Moloto: The veteran playmaker has moved into a more attacking role under interim Head Coach Donovan Ricketts and will be hoping to make a difference in the final third.
Venue: Toyota Field
Kickoff: 9 p.m. ET
538.com Predictor: SA 76%, LDN 7%, Draw 17%
The Lowdown: San Antonio FC will look to rebound from its first loss since early June this past weekend as it plays host to a Loudoun United FC side that claimed victory in its most recent outing, but still sees its playoff hopes remain slim in the Eastern Conference. SAFC fell 3-0 to San Diego Loyal SC on Saturday night at Torero Stadium for just its fourth league defeat of the season overall as the side was unable to capitalize on early chances before being worn down by its hosts at Torero Stadium. Despite the defeat, San Antonio retains a four-point lead on second-placed SD Loyal with a game in hand as it enters the final third of its campaign. The hosts will be aiming to deliver a strong response against a Loudoun side that picked up a 2-0 victory against the LA Galaxy II behind a pair of goals by United States U-19 international Kristian Fletcher on Saturday night at Segra Field. Fletcher’s two-goal game came on his 17th birthday, while goalkeeper Luis Zamudio notched a pair of saves to earn his fifth shutout of the season. The side has struggled on the road so far this season, however, taking only one win and one draw in nine away games, something San Antonio will aim to continue.
San Antonio FC – Justin Dhillon: The forward had dangerous moments against San Diego and leads SAFC with both six goals and six assists, providing balance in the attacking third for the hosts.
Loudoun United FC – Jeremy Garay: The 19-year-old El Salvador international could have a major role to play for the visitors after putting up solid performances in his last two outings on loan from D.C. United.
Venue: Torero Stadium
Kickoff: 10 p.m. ET
538.com Predictor: SD 60%, MB 18%, Draw 22%
The Lowdown: San Diego Loyal SC will try to cap a successful homestand as it plays host to a Monterey Bay F.C. that has pushed into the playoff conversation during a six-game undefeated streak that continued with a third consecutive victory this past weekend. MBFC took a 1-0 victory against El Paso Locomotive FC on Saturday night as Adrian Rebollar scored a late winner at Cardinale Stadium after the visitors had missed a first-half penalty kick. Monterey Bay has now recorded shutouts in its last five outings and sits on a 500-minute shutout streak overall dating back to a 1-1 draw against New Mexico United on July 2. That streak will be tested by San Diego, which leads the Championship with 52 goals this season after a 3-0 win against Western Conference leader San Antonio FC gave the side its seventh win in the past eight outings. SD Loyal got second-half goals by Evan Conway, Grant Stoneman and Kyle Vassell against San Antonio, with Vassell’s 11th goal of the season coming in his return after departing the club’s victory on July 19 against Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC on July 19 with injury. SD Loyal is now four points back of San Antonio in the Western Conference and will be keen to keep up the pressure with a victory in its first meeting against its new NorCal rival.
San Diego Loyal SC – Collin Martin: The central midfielder put in a standout display in both winning possession and distribution against San Antonio, continuing a solid overall campaign for the side.
Monterey Bay F.C. – Grant Robinson: The center back has been in a solid run of form for MBFC during its current shutout streak and will be a key figure as the visitors look to earn points on the road against SD Loyal’s impressive attack.