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Gameday Previews – Saturday, August 20

By Staff, 08/19/22, 4:40PM EDT


A full night of action includes two major rivalries, and Open Cup rematch, and first-time interconference clash

After squaring off in the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup earlier this season, Detroit City FC and Louisville City FC will meet again on Saturday night at Keyworth Stadium. | Photo courtesy Jon DeBoer / Detroit City FC

There’s a full 12-game night of action in the USL Championship on Saturday that includes two of the league’s notable rivalries, a rematch of a classic Open Cup encounter from earlier this season, and a first-time meeting between two teams currently in the top three in their respective conferences to look forward to alongside key games in the race for the postseason.

Here’s a look ahead to all the action.

Hartford Athletic vs. Miami FC

Venue: Trinity Health Stadium
Kickoff: 7 p.m. ET
Broadcast: ESPN+ Predictor: HFD 30%, MIA 42%, Draw 28%

The Lowdown: Both Hartford Athletic and Miami FC will try to build on victories last time out as the South Florida side aims to strengthen its position above the playoff line and complete a sweep of the season series. Miami took a 2-0 victory when the teams last met in April as Kyle Murphy and Romeo Parkes each found the net, and the side took victory by the same scoreline last Saturday night against Atlanta United 2 as Florian Valot notched a goal and assist to lead the way. The victory moved Miami nine points ahead of eighth-placed FC Tulsa in the Eastern Conference standings, and a second consecutive victory would further boost its playoff chances, but the visitors could get a test from the Athletic, which helped further dash the playoff hopes of Indy Eleven in its last outing with a 2-1 win that saw Danny Barrera and Ariel Martinez find the net. Martinez could get the chance to square off against his former club in this outing, and while Hartford remains an outsider to the playoff picture there remains the opportunity to spoil Miami’s aspirations.

Spotlight Players
Hartford Athletic – Prince Saydee:
The Liberian winger will join Ariel Martinez in having a chance to face his former club, and enters the game tied for the team high with four assists as well as scoring three times.

Miami FC – Kyle Murphy: The veteran forward could return to the lineup after appearing as a substitute last time out having scored against Hartford in their first meeting, giving him a chance to add to his five goals this campaign.

Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC vs. New York Red Bulls II

Venue: Highmark Stadium
Kickoff: 7 p.m. ET
Broadcast: ESPN+ Predictor: PIT 76%, NY 7%, Draw 17%

The Lowdown: Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC will try to rebound from the end of a three-game winning streak last time out as it plays host to the last-placed Red Bulls II at Highmark Stadium. The Hounds fell 2-0 to Memphis 901 FC last Saturday at Highmark Stadium to slip into fifth place in the Eastern Conference standings, but their chances of playing at home to open the playoffs were boosted on Wednesday night after Detroit City FC handed Birmingham Legion FC. Pittsburgh now has a game in hand on fourth-placed Legion FC while sitting a point back in the standings and will be looking to start what appears on paper to be a major opportunity over the next few games to rack up points with their next four games against the teams currently in the bottom four in the East. The Red Bulls II are coming off a 3-1 defeat to the Charleston Battery in their most recent outing last Friday night and have won only three times this campaign. The visitors will also be without United States U-20 international Caden Clark after his red card against the Battery, leaving the young squad without one of its key players as it visits a Pittsburgh side that has won 8 of 11 home games so far this campaign.

Player Spotlight
Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC – Russell Cicerone:
The Hounds forward leads the team with 11 goals this campaign and should get the chance to add to that against a Red Bulls II defense that has conceded 49 times.

New York Red Bulls II – O’Vonte Mullings: The first-year pro notched the game-winner two games ago as New York defeated Atlanta United 2 and has had a solid overall season so far with three assists.

Detroit City FC vs. Louisville City FC

Venue: Keyworth Stadium
Kickoff: 7:30 p.m. ET
Broadcast: ESPN+ Predictor: DET 22%, LOU 50%, Draw 28%

The Lowdown: Detroit City FC and Louisville City FC will meet for the first time since a classic Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup clash earlier this year – and for the first time officially in league play – as both teams take aim at building on big victories last time out at Keyworth Stadium. Le Rouge returns home after claiming a 2-1 victory against Birmingham Legion FC on Wednesday night that saw Matt Lewis score the winner with eight minutes to go after Connor Rutz’s bicycle kick finish – which was featured on both ESPN’s SportsCenter Top 10 and Futbol Americas – opened the scoring in the second half. The result snapped a recent winless streak for the side and moved it 11 points ahead of eighth-placed FC Tulsa as DCFC takes aim at a postseason berth in its first year in the Championship. Now Head Coach Trevor James’ side will take on a LouCity side that advanced via a penalty shootout when the teams met in the Fourth Round of this year’s Open Cup after a 1-1 draw through 120 minutes of action. Wilson Harris provided the goal that night for LouCity and found a decisive goal last Saturday night to send the side to a 1-0 win against the Tampa Bay Rowdies before a club-record crowd of 14,673 fans at Lynn Family Stadium. Sitting at the top of the Eastern Conference, Louisville is aiming to maintain its lead ahead of second-placed Memphis 901 FC as it looks to add to a current nine-game undefeated streak.

Player Spotlight
Detroit City FC – Connor Rutz:
The attacking midfielder has continued to come into his own as the season has progressed, with his spectacular finish against Birmingham his third goal of the season.

Louisville City FC – Manny Perez: The LouCity right back had a standout performance against Tampa Bay, something he’ll be aiming to replicate in what should be a good one-on-one matchup with DCFC’s Deklan Wynne.

Loudoun United FC vs. Atlanta United 2

Venue: Segra Field
Kickoff: 7:30 p.m. ET
Broadcast: ESPN+ Predictor: LDN 44%, ATL 33%, Draw 23%

The Lowdown: Loudoun United FC and Atlanta United 2 will both try to rebound from setbacks as they near the end of the regular season as the hosts return home to Segra Field. Loudoun fell 2-1 to Western Conference leader San Antonio FC in a well-fought contest at Toyota Field in its most recent outing on August 10 as the visitors narrowly missed out on claiming a result after missing out on some late opportunities. Loudoun now sits 19 points out of the playoff places in the East with 11 games to play, likely too large a margin to bridge, but it will be aiming to turn the tables on Atlanta this time around after Raimar scored twice in a 2-0 victory for the Georgia-based squad when the teams last met in June. Atlanta is coming off a 2-0 defeat to Miami FC at Fifth Third Bank Stadium last Saturday night and is now winless in its last nine games overall with only three draws in that span. With only eight games to go, a defeat on the road would likely see Atlanta mathematically eliminated from playoff contention.

Spotlight Players
Loudoun United FC – Kristian Fletcher:
The United States U-19 international has been a bright spot for the side, finding the net against San Antonio last time out and recently signing an MLS contract with D.C. United.

Atlanta United 2 – Raimar: The Brazilian proved the difference the last time these teams met and has notched four goals and four assists this season in 16 appearances while sitting with 32 chances created overall.

FC Tulsa vs. Indy Eleven

Venue: ONEOK Field
Kickoff: 8:30 p.m. ET
Broadcast: ESPN+ Predictor: TUL 49%, IND 25%, Draw 26%

The Lowdown: FC Tulsa will try to close the gap to the playoff places after earning one of its most important results of the season last time out as it hosts an Indy Eleven side that sides only one place behind it in the standings but for which the playoff race is seemingly out of reach. Tulsa took a 2-1 victory against seventh-placed Miami FC on August 10 at Riccardo Silva Stadium as Dario Suarez notched a goal and assist against his former club, but after Miami’s win last weekend against Atlanta the gap is now nine points for Tulsa to try and bridge as it looks for a third consecutive postseason berth. The hosts will be hopeful of earning a much-needed victory against Indy, however, with the Boys in Blue currently on an 11-game winless streak that continued last Saturday night in a 2-1 defeat on the road against Hartford Athletic. Saturday’s game will mark the first of two meetings this season between the clubs, who played to a 1-1 draw in their final meeting in 2021. A similar result this time around would be a major blow to both sides – but particularly Tulsa’s – and help push Miami and Detroit City FC closer to the postseason.

Spotlight Players
FC Tulsa – Rodrigo da Costa:
The Brazilian playmaker has scored a team-high seven goals this season and will be key to earning another vital three points for Tulsa’s playoff drive.

Indy Eleven – Jesus Vazquez: After three appearances on loan from Rio Grande Valley FC this season, Indy announced it had acquired the center back via transfer from the Toros this week, positioning him as a central piece for this season and the future.

Memphis 901 FC vs. Birmingham Legion FC

Venue: AutoZone Park
Kickoff: 8:30 p.m. ET
Broadcast: ESPN+ Predictor: MEM 43%, BHM 30%, Draw 28%

The Lowdown: Longtime rivals Memphis 901 FC and Birmingham Legion FC will renew the Southern Harm series with both teams sitting in the top four in the Eastern Conference standings but coming off differing results on Wednesday night. Memphis moved within a point of first place in the East as goals in either half by Luiz Fernando and Phillip Goodrum send the side to a 2-0 victory against New Mexico United at Isotopes Park, with Goodrum’s goal his team-leading 14th of the season. Both goals were assisted by Aaron Molloy, who now leads the league with 10 assists this campaign, with teammate Jeremy Kelly tied for third with eight. That attacking prowess has helped Memphis already set new marks this season for the most wins and most points in a campaign in its history, and it will enter Saturday’s game looking to turn the tables on Legion FC after the Three Sparks took a dramatic late victory when the teams last met in May. Anderson Asiedu’s 90th-minute goal proved the winner then at Protective Stadium, but Birmingham fell 2-1 on Wednesday night against Detroit City FC despite another fine finish by forward Prosper Kasim. Looking at a seven-point gap to its rival, Birmingham is in need of a victory to boost its chances of a top-four finish with Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC waiting to pounce on another misstep.

Spotlight Players
Memphis 901 FC – Leston Paul:
The Trinidad and Tobago international had a stellar performance on the road against New Mexico alongside Molloy and will need to do the same against Legion FC as he hosts try to limit Birmingham’s clear looks on goal.

Birmingham Legion FC – Juan Agudelo: The former United States international didn’t record a shot when these teams first met this season and will be looking for an influential performance to help earn victory on the road here.

Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC vs. Tampa Bay Rowdies

Venue: Weidner Field
Kickoff: 9 p.m. ET
Broadcast: ESPN+ Predictor: COS 26%, TBR 50%, Draw 24%

The Lowdown: Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC will try to reverse a major downturn in form as it returns home to face the two-time defending Eastern Conference title holder Tampa Bay Rowdies for the first meeting between the clubs in their histories. The Switchbacks fell 3-0 on Wednesday night against Sacramento Republic FC at Heart Health Park to stretch their current winless streak to six games. Over that span, the Switchbacks have conceded at least three goals in each outing, conceding 20 times overall, which has seen the side be pulled back into a battle for a top-four finish and home playoff game alongside New Mexico United and Republic FC. The Rowdies don’t have quite the same concerns in third place in the Eastern Conference, but the side will be looking to rebound after being not only felled 1-0 by rival Louisville City FC last Saturday at Lynn Family Stadium but be held without an official shot on target in the process. With Memphis 901 FC now in second place, the Rowdies will be eager to see a strong attack take on a struggling Colorado Springs defense. The Switchbacks’ own attack could give Tampa Bay’s back line problems too, which could make for a highly entertaining contest.

Spotlight Players
Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC – Jimmy Ockford:
The experienced center back will need to lead a stronger display from his side as it looks to tighten up against one of the highest-scoring attacks in the Championship.

Tampa Bay Rowdies – Laurence Wyke: The versatile defender / midfielder could make his return to the lineup from suspension against Louisville City FC and will need to have a good game to try and help contain Hadji Barry and the Switchbacks’ attack.

New Mexico United vs. Monterey Bay F.C.

Venue: Isotopes Park
Kickoff: 9 p.m. ET
Broadcast: ESPN+ Predictor: NM 54%, MB 20%, Draw 27%

The Lowdown: Two teams currently in different runs of form will meet for the second time this season as New Mexico United looks to get back in the win column against a Monterey Bay F.C. side that is pushing toward the playoff positions. MBFC moved up to 11th place in the standings this past Saturday night as it took a 1-0 victory against NorCal rival Sacramento Republic FC for its fourth victory in the past five games. At the center of that run has been the defensive success the side has earned with goalkeeper Antony Siaha and center backs Kai Greene and Hugh Roberts helping Monterey Bay concede only once in the last seven games. New Mexico earned a 1-1 draw with it visited Cardinale Stadium earlier on July 2 as Sergio Rivas scored the equalizer after Chase Boone had opened the scoring in the second minute for MBFC, but United is currently on a four-game winless streak after falling 2-0 on Wednesday night to Eastern Conference contender Memphis 901 FC. That result saw New Mexico fall to fifth in the Western standings, and the hosts will be hoping for a turnaround behind the recently returned Kevaughn Frater and attacking newcomer Romario Williams alongside the likes of Amando Moreno and Chris Wehan to try and fuel a return to winning ways and a chance at a first home playoff game in club history.

Spotlight Players
New Mexico United – Kevaughn Frater:
The Jamaican made his first start since returning to United on Wednesday night against Memphis and two shots and one chance created. Finding the net would go a long way to easing the pressure the club is currently feeling.

Monterey Bay F.C. – Mobi Fehr: The former U.S. youth international could have to take on a bigger role in the center of midfield as teammate James Murphy serves a one-game suspension for caution accumulation on Saturday night.

San Antonio FC vs. Rio Grande Valley FC

Venue: Toyota Field
Kickoff: 9 p.m. ET
Broadcast: ESPN+ Predictor: SA 49%, RGV 22%, Draw 29%

The Lowdown: San Antonio FC could be the first team to book its place in the 2022 USL Championship Playoffs as it plays host to Rio Grande Valley FC in the final South Texas Derby of the regular season. San Antonio has claimed both prior meetings this campaign on the way to earning the Copa Texas for the first time, with Justin Dhillon scoring twice as SAFC took a 3-2 victory on May 28 when the teams last met. San Antonio can clinch a playoff place with a victory should either Monterey Bay F.C. lose against New Mexico United, or Las Vegas Lights FC fail to take victory against Sacramento Republic FC elsewhere on Saturday night, but the Toros will be hoping to claim their first victory at Toyota Field since the 2017 season with their playoff bid still mathematically alive with 11 games to go in the season. RGVFC has played to consecutive draws in its past two outings against Hartford Athletic and Sacramento Republic FC, narrowly missing out on victory against Sacramento in its last outing on August 6 when Jonathan Ricketts gave the side the lead at Heart Health Park only for the visitors to concede a 90th-minute equalizer to former player Rodrigo Lopez at the death. With an eight-point gap to make up, RGVFC is getting close to a must-win situation, and certainly could use a result on the road in its trip north this time around.  

Spotlight Players
San Antonio FC – Cristian Parano:
The 2019 Championship Young Player of the Year could make his return in San Antonio colors on Saturday night after the completion of his loan agreement to bring him back to the club from Portugal.

Rio Grande Valley FC – Frank Lopez: The Cuban forward scored eight goals during a prior stint with San Antonio FC in 2019 and will be hoping to lead the Toros attack to success on his former stomping grounds.

El Paso Locomotive FC vs. San Diego Loyal SC

Venue: Southwest University Park
Kickoff: 9:30 p.m. ET
Broadcast: ESPN+ Predictor: ELP 39%, SD 36%, Draw 26%

The Lowdown: El Paso Locomotive FC returns home hoping to get back into the win column and solidify its playoff credentials as it plays host to second-placed San Diego Loyal SC in the second meeting between the teams this season. Locomotive FC played to a 4-4 draw last Friday night against Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC as both Dylan Mares and Luis Solignac found the net twice in the second half before the Switchbacks leveled in second-half stoppage time at Weidner Field. The draw extended Locomotive FC’s winless streak to five games, but the side remains above the playoff line in sixth place in the Western standings entering the weekend, two points ahead of the eighth-placed LA Galaxy II. San Diego, meanwhile, is comfortably in second place with a seven-point lead to third-placed Colorado Springs, but the visitors will be hoping to bounce back as well after falling 1-0 on the road against Birmingham Legion FC last Saturday night. After taking a 3-2 victory at Torero Stadium when the teams met earlier this season, SD Loyal will take aim at completing the season sweep and close the gap on first-placed San Antonio FC in the process.

Spotlight Players
El Paso Locomotive FC – Matt Bahner:
The veteran defender could move into a more central role with Yuma serving a one-game suspension for caution accumulation and will need to have a solid performance against a good SD Loyal attack.

San Diego Loyal SC – Alejandro Guido: The local standout has been central to SD Loyal’s success so far this season in the center of midfield and will look to lead a bounce-back display on the road before the side’s return home next Wednesday night.

LA Galaxy II vs. Charleston Battery

Venue: Dignity Health Sports Park
Kickoff: 10:30 p.m. ET
Broadcast: ESPN+ Predictor: LA 49%, CHS 28%, Draw 23%

The Lowdown: The Charleston Battery and Augustine Williams will head west to take on the Sierra Leone international’s former club on Saturday with the LA Galaxy II hoping for a victory that could push them back above the playoff line after a recent winless run. Los Dos rallied to take a 2-2 draw last Sunday evening against New Mexico United thanks to goals by Cameron Dunbar and Jonathan Perez after trailing at the halftime break. The hosts could welcome back Preston Judd to the lineup after the completion of a recent suspension, with the Galaxy II’s leading scorer having recorded 12 goals so far this season. That’s one fewer than Williams, who became the second-youngest player in the Championship’s history to reach 50 regular season goals last Friday night in a 3-1 win against the New York Red Bulls II that also saw Aidan Apodaca score twice at MSU Soccer Park. Charleston hasn’t had a great time of it during interconference play so far this season, however, going 0-5-1 so far this campaign, while losing its lone prior trip to California against San Diego Loyal SC back in April.

Spotlight Players
LA Galaxy II – Cameron Dunbar:
The exciting 19-year-old winger has notched eight goals and three assists this season and could take advantage of a Battery defense that has conceded 53 goals this campaign.

Charleston Battery – Robbie Crawford: The experienced midfielder could have a key role to play if the Battery are to earn a result in the road as he tries to contain a talented Galaxy II midfield that could feature Mexico U-20 international Jonathan Perez.

Las Vegas Lights FC vs. Sacramento Republic FC

Venue: Cashman Field
Kickoff: 10:30 p.m. ET
Broadcast: ESPN+ Predictor: LV 29%, SAC 41%, Draw 30%

The Lowdown: Sacramento Republic FC will try to build on a convincing victory in midweek as it heads to take on a Las Vegas Lights FC side that is still sitting in the seventh and final playoff place in the West after a solid road result last time out. Las Vegas earned a 1-1 draw against defending title holder Orange County SC at Championship Soccer Stadium on Wednesday as Cal Jennings scored an equalizer early in the second half. The result was Lights FC’s fifth in a row without a win, but the side remains in seventh place – level on points with El Paso Locomotive FC and two ahead of the LA Galaxy II – as it returns home with its rivals below the playoff line also recently struggling for consistent form. Sacramento heads to Nevada after a convincing 3-0 victory against Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC at Heart Health Park on Wednesday that saw Maalique Foster, Matt LaGrassa and Keko each find the net in the first half. The victory moved Republic FC up to fourth place in the West and only two points behind Colorado Springs for third as the 2022 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup Finalist looks for a good finish to the regular season. After playing to a 1-1 draw when the teams met in Sacramento earlier this year, the visitors are 4-0-2 in their last six meetings with Lights FC and will be hoping to add another win to their resume this time around.

Spotlight Players
Las Vegas Lights FC – Cal Jennings:
The forward is closing in on 30 regular season goals in the Championship for his career after finding the net in midweek and will look to test Sacramento’s defense once again.

Sacramento Republic FC – Douglas Martinez Jr.: The Honduran international came on as a second-half substitute on Wednesday night and could get the start this time around as Sacramento looks to build momentum toward the playoffs and September 7’s Open Cup Final.

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