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Gameday Previews – Saturday, October 15

By Staff, 10/14/22, 11:50AM EDT


Rio Grande Valley, Oakland take aim at playoff berths while Miami, Detroit square off for seeding in East

San Antonio FC can set regular season records for wins, points and shutouts on Saturday night as it plays host to Orange County SC at Toyota Field. | Photo courtesy Liza Rosales / Orange County SC

The final Saturday of the 2022 USL Championship regular season arrives with a 12-game slate of action that will see the final two places in the 2022 USL Championship Playoffs presented by Hisense decided in the Western Conference and multiple games that will decide seeding in the East and homefield advantage in the West as the 32-week campaign comes to a close.

Here’s a look ahead to all the action.

Detroit City FC vs. Miami FC

Venue: Keyworth Stadium
Kickoff: 4 p.m. ET
Broadcast: ESPN+ Predictor: DET 39%, MIA 30%, Draw 31%

The Lowdown: Both Detroit City FC and Miami FC will try to rebound from defeat in their most recent outing as they battle for position ahead of the postseason with Miami needing victory to jump Le Rouge and out of the No. 7 seed in the Eastern Conference as the day begins. Miami suffered a 3-2 defeat to Las Vegas Lights FC last Saturday night as goals by Joaquin Rivas and Joaquin Rivas were unable to bring the visitors back at Cashman Field as they conceded three goals in a game for the first time since July 9. Miami sits two points back of DCFC, which fell 2-1 against Eastern Conference leader Louisville City FC despite taking a halftime lead behind Antoine Hoppenot’s seventh goal of the season on October 5 at Lynn Family Stadium. Le Rouge are currently in sixth place in the East level on points with fifth-placed Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC but trailing on the third tiebreaker of points-per-game against in-conference opposition where Pittsburgh’s 1.84ppg after the completion of its 26-game Eastern Conference slate is unassailable by Detroit, which could only reach a 1.76ppg average with a victory. Should Le Rouge earn a better result than the Hounds against Oakland Roots SC, however, it would move into fifth place and a visit to Birmingham Legion FC to open the playoffs, a side it has defeated twice in the regular season. Detroit almost grabbed victory when it last faced Miami as Hoppenot scored a first-half goal before Adonijah Reid equalized deep in second-half stoppage time for the hosts at Riccardo Silva Stadium in May. With plenty on the line for both playoff-bound teams, this should be a must-see in the final regular-season game at Keyworth Stadium in a tremendous inaugural season for the hosts.

Spotlight Players
Detroit City FC – Antoine Hoppenot:
The veteran forward scored when these teams met in May but also leads the Championship with 11 assists. If he can add to that total on Saturday, he could not only help improve his side’s postseason position, but claim the Championship Assists Champion award.

Miami FC – Florian Valot: The French playmaker has notched eight goals and five assists this season and could need to put up a big performance if Miami is to take the win it needs to move out of the No. 7 seed.

Charleston Battery vs. Loudoun United FC

Venue: Patriots Point
Kickoff: 5 p.m. ET
Broadcast: ESPN+ Predictor: CHS 45%, LDN 31%, Draw 23%

The Lowdown: The Charleston Battery and Loudoun United FC will try to end their season on a positive note after recent defensive struggles on both sides. The Battery suffered a 4-1 defeat to Indy Eleven last Saturday night which marked the final game at the helm for Head Coach Conor Casey, whose departure from the club was announced on Wednesday morning. The Battery have conceded 18 goals over a four-game losing streak, with Dennis Sanchez set to take the helm for the final game of the campaign. Individually, Augustine Williams will look to continue his career-best season with 16 goals against a Loudoun defense that allowed eight goals in a defeat to the Tampa Bay Rowdies last Saturday night that ran the club’s losing streak to three games. United sits three points ahead of Charleston in the Eastern Conference standings going into Saturday’s game and will be assured of finishing in 11th place – its best finish in a regular season – if it can earn a draw. That was the result when the teams last met in May when Charleston’s Joe Kuzminsky became only the second goalkeeper to score in a league contest for a late equalizer in a 1-1 result at Segra Field. Should the Battery take victory here, it would jump past Loudoun on the head-to-head tiebreaker and offer a silver lining to a disappointing season.  

Spotlight Players
Charleston Battery – Fidel Barajas:
The Mexico U-17 international has recorded assists in each of the past two contests, including in his first senior professional start last Saturday, and will be one to watch here.

Loudoun United FC – Jalen Robinson: The veteran center back will try to help rally his side from its heaviest defeat in its history as it looks to end the season on a positive note.

Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC vs. Oakland Roots SC

Venue: Highmark Stadium
Kickoff: 7 p.m. ET
Broadcast: ESPN+ Predictor: PIT 41%, OAK 31%, Draw 29%

The Lowdown: Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC and Oakland Roots SC will square off for the first time in their histories with Roots SC aiming to clinch a second consecutive trip to the USL Championship Playoffs and the Hounds looking to secure the No. 5 seed in the Eastern Conference. Pittsburgh saw its chance of earning a home playoff game to open the postseason end on Wednesday night after fourth-placed Birmingham Legion FC moved four points ahead of the Hounds with its victory against Indy Eleven. The hosts can finish no lower than sixth place with their two remaining rivals – sixth-placed Detroit City FC and seventh-placed Miami FC – squaring off earlier in the evening but will be assured of fifth with a win. Oakland, meanwhile, needs to take victory to be assured of its place in the playoffs with a draw opening the door for Las Vegas Lights FC to claim a spot thanks to its head-to-head series victory between the clubs if Lights FC defeats the LA Galaxy II later in the night. Oakland is flying coming into Saturday’s game, however, having won four times in a five-game undefeated streak to reach this point after a 3-1 win on the road at Hartford Athletic last Saturday that saw Juan Carlos Azocar and Ottar Magnus Karlsson both find the net. Pittsburgh, by contrast, is winless in its last five games after Kenardo Forbes scored in a 1-1 draw on the road against Sacramento Republic FC last Sunday in California.

Spotlight Players
Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC – Kenardo Forbes:
The Jamaican playmaker is one assist behind Detroit City FC’s Antoine Hoppenot in the race for the league’s Assist Champion award and will be aiming to cap another stellar season in style on home turf.

Oakland Roots SC – Ottar Magnus Karlsson: The Icelandic forward needs one goal to reach 20 for the regular season as he continues to stake a claim for Championship All-League selection while aiming to lead his side into the playoffs.

Louisville City FC vs. Hartford Athletic

Venue: Lynn Family Stadium
Kickoff: 7:30 p.m. ET
Broadcast: ESPN+ Predictor: LOU 66%, LDN 14%, Draw 20%

The Lowdown: Louisville City FC can claim the fourth-best single-season record in the Championship’s history as it squares off with Hartford Athletic as the two-time league title winners end their regular season campaign on home turf ahead of opening their postseason campaign two weekends from now. LouCity rallied for a 2-1 victory against Detroit City FC last on October 5 behind goals from Wilson Harris and Joshua Wynder to move to 69 points in the campaign, a result that also clinched homefield advantage in the Eastern Conference with a game to play. With a victory against Hartford, the hosts would trail only this season’s San Antonio FC side – which has a chance to claim the best all-time record later in the night – and the 77 points of FC Cincinnati in 2018 and 78 points of Phoenix Rising FC in 2019 in the league’s record book. LouCity took a 2-0 victory against Hartford in June when both Sean Totsch and Paolo DelPiccolo found the net as they take aim at a season sweep of Head Coach Tab Ramos’ side, which is coming off a 3-1 loss at home to Oakland Roots SC last Saturday in its home finale. Hartford had won three of four outings prior to that contest, however, and has shown attacking prowess under its new leadership with 16 goals in six games since the start of September.

Spotlight Players
Louisville City FC – Kyle Morton:
The LouCity goalkeeper enters the weekend with a 0.738 goals-against average this season, 0.001 behind San Antonio FC’s Jordan Farr. A shutout could earn Morton the Golden Glove with the lowest goals-against average in the regular season.

Hartford Athletic – Danny Barrera: The veteran playmaker has recorded six assists this season but has yet to record a helper against Louisville City FC in three prior games during his career.

Tampa Bay Rowdies vs. New York Red Bulls II

Venue: Al Lang Stadium
Kickoff: 7:30 p.m. ET
Broadcast: ESPN+ Predictor: TBR 84%, NY 4%, Draw 12%

The Lowdown: The Tampa Bay Rowdies will try to continue a three-game winning streak as it plays host to the last-placed New York Red Bulls II on Saturday night with a chance to jump into second place in the Eastern Conference pending the result of current second-place side Memphis 901 FC’s clash with FC Tulsa later in the night. The Rowdies are coming off a 3-1 victory on Wednesday night against El Paso Locomotive FC at Al Lang Stadium that saw Leo Fernandes score twice to move to 18 goals this season and Sebastian Guenzatti continue his late-season surge in form. Now the Rowdies’ all-time goalscoring leader, Guenzatti has scored three goals in the past two games to help guarantee the side a top-three finish. The Red Bulls II, meanwhile, will end their history in the Championship on Saturday night after suffering a 2-1 defeat to Memphis in their last outing as the side conceded late at AutoZone Park to suffer its fourth defeat in the past five games. New York hasn’t won since August 9, going 10 games undefeated overall as it reaches its season finale eight points adrift at the bottom of the Eastern Conference, but the side did manage to claim a 1-1 draw with Tampa Bay when the teams met in April at MSU Soccer Park as Fernandes scored a late equalizer for the visitors. The Rowdies will be aiming to avoid a repeat of that result as they look to carry positive momentum into the playoffs with a victory which could set up an All-Florida clash against Miami FC in the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals next weekend.

Spotlight Players
Tampa Bay Rowdies – Leo Fernandes:
The playmaker leads the Championship with a combined 27 goals and assists this season, needing one more helper to become the latest to join the exclusive double-double club as he makes a final case for the league’s Most Valuable Player award.

New York Red Bulls II – Jordan Adebayo-Smith: The English forward could be on familiar turf in the final game of season season-long loan from Tampa Bay having led the Red Bulls II with seven goals this season.

FC Tulsa vs. Memphis 901 FC

Venue: ONEOK Field
Kickoff: 8:30 p.m. ET
Broadcast: ESPN+ Predictor: TUL 30%, MEM 46%, Draw 24%

The Lowdown: Memphis 901 FC will try to seal a second-placed finish in the Eastern Conference with a victory on the road against an FC Tulsa side that enters off consecutive victories as it prepares for its final game of the campaign. Tulsa took a 2-0 victory against Monterey Bay F.C. on Wednesday night at ONEOK Field that eliminate MBFC from playoff contention in the West behind a pair of goals by Marcus Epps in either half. The win moved Tulsa into eighth place in the Eastern Conference, and the side has lost only once in its last five games overall while scoring at least two goals in each contest during that span. Memphis, meanwhile, needed a late goal by Phillip Goodrum to take a 2-1 victory against the New York Red Bulls II last Saturday night to maintain its lead over the Tampa Bay Rowdies for second place in the East. 901 FC’s margin sits at one point going into Saturday’s games, meaning a victory would assure the side of the No. 2 seed in the East, but a draw or a defeat could open the door for the Rowdies, who would jump past Memphis with a victory against the Red Bulls II in their finale in the case of a draw, or move Tampa Bay ahead on the third tiebreaker of point-per-game against in-conference opposition if Memphis loses and Tampa Bay draws with the Red Bulls II. After taking a 2-0 victory when these sides first met in June on goals by Graham Smith and Derek Dodson at AutoZone Park, Memphis will be aiming for the same result on the road this time around.

Spotlight Players
FC Tulsa – Dario Suarez:
The Cuban forward has notched nine goals this season and has contributed to goals in four consecutive games with three goals and two assists in that span, a run he’ll be aiming to continue Saturday night.

Memphis 901 FC – Phillip Goodrum: The standout forward notched his 20th goal of the season against the Red Bulls II but will need a multi-goal night in Tulsa to challenge for the Golden Boot with Milan Iloski of Orange County SC currently two ahead going to the final game of the regular season.

Rio Grande Valley FC vs. Monterey Bay F.C.

Venue: H-E-B Park
Kickoff: 8:30 p.m. ET
Broadcast: ESPN+ Predictor: RGV 59%, MB 16%, Draw 25%

The Lowdown: Rio Grande Valley FC will take aim at sealing its second consecutive postseason berth as it plays host to Monterey Bay F.C., which will close out its first season aiming to play spoiler after being eliminated from playoff contention on Wednesday night. The Toros enter Saturday in sixth place in the Western Conference and will guarantee a playoff berth with victory at home as the side looks to build on a 2-1 victory last time out against Phoenix Rising FC that saw Jonas Fjeldberg score in either half for the hosts at H-E-B Park. The victory was the latest success for RGVFC, which has gone 5-1-1 since the start of September as Head Coach Wilmer Cabrera earned the Championship Coach of the Month award this past Wednesday. The Toros also hold the head-to-head tiebreakers over both seventh-placed Oakland Roots SC and ninth-placed Las Vegas Lights FC, while also currently holding the edge in points-per-game against in-conference opposition. That could come to naught with a defeat, however, which would offer the potential for both Oakland and Las Vegas to move past the Toros with positive results in their final games, with Roots SC currently level with the Toros on 46 points and Las Vegas two points back on 44. After falling 2-0 on Wednesday night to FC Tulsa for its third consecutive defeat, MBFC will be aiming to end its inaugural campaign on a high note and will have fans of both Oakland and Las Vegas hoping it can pull off the upset.

Spotlight Players
Rio Grande Valley FC – Jonas Fjeldberg:
The Norwegian forward has scored eight goals in 10 appearances for the Toros after his brace last time out and will be aiming for a big final display to lead the team into the postseason.

Monterey Bay F.C. – Sam Gleadle: The attacking midfielder is tied for the MBFC lead with eight goals this season and will aim to cap a good campaign overall with a final flourish.

San Antonio FC vs. Orange County SC

Venue: Toyota Field
Kickoff: 8:30 p.m. ET
Broadcast: ESPN+ Predictor: SA 60%, OC 14%, Draw 26%

The Lowdown: San Antonio FC will try to write itself into the USL Championship Record Book on Saturday night as it takes aim at becoming the single-season record-holder for both regular season wins and points as it takes on Orange County SC at Toyota Field. SAFC took a fourth consecutive victory last Sunday evening as it rallied from an early deficit to defeat Birmingham Legion FC at Protective Stadium behind goals from Ignacio Bailone and a late winner from Santiago Patino. The result moved San Antonio to 24 wins and 76 points this season, already the third-most points in a regular season in league history. A win would see the side surpass Phoenix Rising FC’s records of 24 wins and 78 points in the 2019 season as San Antonio prepares for the postseason where it will take aim at its first playoff silverware in club history. 2021 title winner Orange County SC doesn’t have the same prospect ahead of it as it rounds out its campaign, but the side enters its final game of the season without league-leading scorer Milan Iloski after injury leaving the 23-year-old hoping to remain on top of goalscoring chart with 22 goals, two ahead of closest rival Phillip Goodrum of Memphis 901 FC.

Spotlight Players
San Antonio FC – Fabien Garcia:
The French center back will look to put in another strong display as San Antonio tries to close the season with its 18th shutout, which would set a single-season Championship record of 18 currently shared by four clubs.

Orange County SC – Korede Osundina: The United States U-19 international has recorded a pair of assists this season and will be aiming for his first goal of the campaign in the regular season finale.

New Mexico United vs. Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC

Venue: Isotopes Park
Kickoff: 9 p.m. ET
Broadcast: ESPN+ Predictor: NM 46%, COS 28%, Draw 26%

The Lowdown: New Mexico United will play host to Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC at Isotopes Park with a chance to earn a home game to kick off the playoffs after sealing its return to the postseason on Wednesday night. United took a 3-2 victory against the LA Galaxy II behind a pair of goals by Harry Swartz two nights ago to earn a third playoff trip in four seasons and a first under new Head Coach Zach Prince as the side moved clear of the pack and into fifth place. New Mexico is now two points behind fourth-placed Sacramento Republic FC going into the final game of the regular season, but with Sacramento holding the head-to-head tiebreaker over United it would require a New Mexico win and Sacramento loss to San Diego Loyal SC to see New Mexico jump into fourth place. Colorado Springs, meanwhile, enters its final game of the regular season locked into a third-place finish after its 4-1 victory against El Paso Locomotive FC on October 5 that saw Michee Ngalina score his first hat trick in the professional ranks to earn Championship Player of the Week honors. The Switchbacks are guaranteed to match their best finish in the Western Conference in third place while having set club records for wins and points in a regular season. Colorado Springs took a 1-0 win against New Mexico when they last met on a first-half goal by the now-departed Hadji Barry, and by completing a season sweep could set up a rematch of this contest in the Western Conference Quarterfinals pending New Mexico’s final finish in the standings.

Spotlight Players
New Mexico United – Amando Moreno:
The El Salvador international has recorded two goals and two assists in the past three games and will be looking to continue his hot form going into the postseason.

Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC – Cam Lindley: The midfield playmaker is two assists back of the league lead going into the final game of the regular season and will want to put in a big display to try and push the visitors to victory.

Sacramento Republic FC vs. San Diego Loyal SC

Venue: Heart Health Park
Kickoff: 10 p.m. ET
Broadcast: ESPN+ Predictor: SAC 42%, SD 32%, Draw 26%

The Lowdown: Sacramento Republic FC will try to end its recent downturn in form and earn a home game to open the postseason as it plays host to second-placed San Diego Loyal SC in the final game of the regular season. Sacramento was held to a 1-1 draw last Sunday afternoon against Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC at Heart Health Park as Rodrigo Lopez’s penalty kick early in the second half was quickly cancelled out by the Hounds’ Kenardo Forbes. The result left Republic FC two points ahead of New Mexico United in fourth place in the Western Conference standings going to the final game, but a draw would be enough for the hosts to earn a home game in the Western Conference Quarterfinal as they hold the head-to-head tiebreaker against New Mexico with a 1-0-1 record this season. SD Loyal, however, will be aiming to add to a four-game undefeated streak that saw it play to a 3-3 draw with New Mexico last Sunday afternoon at Torero Stadium as Thomas Amang delivered the decisive equalizer after goals by Charlie Adams and Alejandro Guido in the first half of a back-and-forth contest. San Diego is locked into the No. 2 seed in the West with a five-point lead on Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC in third and could look to use its final game to fine-tune ahead of a potential postseason run as it awaits its matchup next weekend.

Spotlight Players

Sacramento Republic FC – Rodrigo Lopez: The veteran playmaker continued his stellar season with a goal in his first action in October and produced a fine all-around display besides, more of which will be needed against SD Loyal’s strong midfield unit.

San Diego Loyal SC – Evan Conway: The versatile attacking piece is one goal away from 10 this regular season, a mark that would put a fine cap on his first campaign in the Championship for one of the title contenders.

LA Galaxy II vs. Las Vegas Lights FC

Venue: Dignity Health Sports Park
Kickoff: 10:30 p.m. ET
Broadcast: ESPN+ Predictor: LA 39%, LV 35%, Draw 26%

The Lowdown: Las Vegas Lights FC needs victory and help to earn the first postseason berth in its history as it heads to face the LA Galaxy II in its final game in the USL Championship. Las Vegas claimed a 3-2 victory against Miami FC last Saturday night at Cashman Field as Danny Crisostomo and Cal Jennings scored second-half goals to lead the side to victory. Las Vegas sits two points behind both sixth-placed Rio Grande Valley FC and seventh-placed Oakland Roots SC going into Saturday’s games but will know the result of both rivals shortly before kickoff with Roots SC visiting Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC and Rio Grande Valley FC hosting Monterey Bay F.C. Las Vegas holds the head-to-head tiebreaker over Oakland with a 1-0-1 record, making a loss for either the Toros or Roots SC or a draw for Oakland the best potential route for Las Vegas to advance with a win, but it must take victory against a Los Dos side it played to a 1-1 draw against when the teams last met in April. The Galaxy II are coming off a 3-2 defeat on Wednesday night against New Mexico United, a fourth loss in the last five games overall, but with nothing but pride to play for the hosts will try to improve on their 7-1-4 all-time record against Lights FC in their finale.

Spotlight Players

LA Galaxy II – Cameron Dunbar: The exciting 19-year-old will try to add to his 11 goals this season which currently place him second on the team behind Preston Judd.

Las Vegas Lights FC – Cal Jennings: With 11 goals this season, including last weekend’s game-winner, Jennings will try to lead the visitors to only its second victory against Los Dos in Lights FC history and into a potential playoff berth.

Phoenix Rising FC vs. Atlanta United 2

Venue: Wild Horse Pass
Kickoff: 10:30 p.m. ET
Broadcast: ESPN+ Predictor: PHX 53%, ATL 36%, Draw 21%

The Lowdown: Phoenix Rising FC and Atlanta United 2 will close out their respective campaigns with both teams hoping to end on a positive note as they meet for the first time. Phoenix was officially eliminated from playoff contention last Saturday night as a 2-1 defeat on the road against Rio Grande Valley FC brought the club’s streak of five consecutive postseason appearances come to an end as Gabriel Torres’ goal early in the second half wasn’t enough to derail the Toros. Phoenix had won its prior two outings and could finish as high as 10th in the standings pending results elsewhere, but to do so it will need to defeat an Atlanta United 2 side that that earned a 3-1 victory on the road against the LA Galaxy II last Saturday as a pair of late goals by Tristan Trager rallied the side to victory. The game will mark Atlanta’s last in the USL Championship with the side only able to finish as high as 12th in the East.

Spotlight Players

Phoenix Rising FC – Aodhan Quinn: The veteran playmaker enters the final game of the regular season two assists away from reaching 50 regular season assists for his career in the Championship and will be hoping to end the season on a high.

Atlanta United 2 – Tristan Trager: The first-year pro has scored eight goals in 21 appearances for Atlanta to sit second on the team, boosting his stock since joining the club in June.

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