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Gameday Previews – Saturday, April 1

By Staff, 03/31/23, 12:00PM EDT


Rising FC looks for a successful housewarming, while Republic FC and LouCity clash in a marquee matchup

Phoenix Rising FC will play host to its home opener on Saturday night with San Diego Loyal SC the visitor at the club's new home within the city limits. | Photo courtesy Ashley Orellana / Phoenix Rising FC

Week 4 of the USL Championship’s regular season concludes with a pair of notable home openers for Phoenix Rising FC and Indy Eleven, a clash between early-season Players’ Shield contenders and a handful of first-time interconference matchups over the course of the day.

Here’s a look ahead to all the action.

Hartford Athletic vs. Orange County SC

Venue: Trinity Health Stadium
Kickoff: 2 p.m. ET
Broadcast: ESPN+ Predictor: HFD 33%, OC 42%, Draw 25%

The Lowdown: Both Hartford Athletic and Orange County SC will try to pick up their first victory of the season as they square off for the first time in their respective histories in a Saturday matinee at Trinity Health Stadium. The Athletic (0-2-1, 1 pt) fell in their home opener last weekend against Birmingham Legion FC, leaving the side with only one point through its opening three games. Hartford did create numerous chances against Birmingham, though, and sharper execution in the final third could deliver a result against an Orange County SC side that has drawn two of its opening three outings. OCSC (0-1-2, 2pts) rallied twice to earn a 2-2 draw against Las Vegas Lights FC last Saturday at Championship Soccer Stadium as 2022 Championship Golden Boot winner Milan Iloski notched his first goal and assist of the season, with Alex Villanueva also finding the net. The visitors should have young winger Korede Osundina back in the squad this weekend, with the 19-year-old having found the net for the United States U-19 Men’s National Team in a 3-1 victory against Argentina during the international break.

Spotlight Players
Hartford Athletic – Triston Hodge:
The Trinidad and Tobago international could return to the lineup after competing for the Soca Warriors in the Concacaf Nations League as the hosts try to limit OCSC’s attack.

Orange County SC – Thomas Amang: The Cameroonian forward made his first appearance for his new club against Las Vegas as a substitute and could get the opportunity for more action this weekend.

Detroit City FC vs. Rio Grande Valley FC

Venue: Keyworth Stadium
Kickoff: 4 p.m. ET
Broadcast: ESPN+ Predictor: DET 43%, RGV 27%, Draw 30%

The Lowdown: Detroit City FC will try to bounce back from a defeat in its home opener as it plays host to a Rio Grande Valley FC side that has drawn its first three games of the season at Keyworth Stadium. Saturday will mark the first meeting between Le Rouge (1-2-0, 3pts) and the Toros (0-0-3, 3pts) in their respective histories with Detroit aiming to even their record after falling 1-0 to Indy Eleven in blustery conditions last weekend. DCFC proved one of the more difficult places to get a result last season as it fell only three times in the regular season, and this weekend could see the side hand a debut to new signing Oniel Fisher after the MLS veteran joined the club. The Toros, meanwhile, have played to three consecutive 1-1 draws after scoring a late goal against Monterey Bay F.C. last Friday night to continue their undefeated start. Taylor Davila scored the decisive goal for the hosts in second-half stoppage time to cap an attacking display that saw the side record a season-high 10 shots on goal but struggle to find a breakthrough until late. Saturday will mark the Toros’ first road game of the season, but the side was a solid proposition on the road last campaign as it went 6-6-5 away from H-E-B Park. RGVFC Head Coach Wilmer Cabrera will be hoping his side can maintain its attacking momentum against a stingy Detroit defense.

Spotlight Players
Detroit City FC – Ben Morris:
The English forward will be eligible for selection for the first time this season and could provide some added impetus to a DCFC attack that has been held scoreless twice in three games.

Rio Grande Valley FC – Wahab Ackwei: The 2022 Championship All-League selection will play a key role in the Toros back line with Erik Pimentel serving a one-game suspension following his red card against Monterey Bay.

Loudoun United FC vs. Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC

Venue: Segra Field
Kickoff: 4 p.m. ET
Broadcast: ESPN+ Predictor: LDN 25%, COS 49%, Draw 26%

The Lowdown: Loudoun United FC and Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC will both be hoping to rebound from their first defeats of the season last time out when they square off at Segra Field. Loudoun (1-1-1, 4pts) suffered a 3-0 defeat on the road against FC Tulsa in a contest that was closer than the final score might have indicated. United outshot its hosts at ONEOK Field 15-12 and put four shots on target but were held at bay by a solid performance by Tulsa goalkeeper Michael Nelson. Loudoun earned a point at home in its first game at Segra Field this season against defending Championship title holders San Antonio FC two weeks ago, and will be hoping to reverse a 3-1 defeat to the Switchbacks last season when the sides met for the first time. Colorado Springs (1-1-1, 4pts) also fell last weekend, suffering a 1-0 defeat to San Antonio at Toyota Field as midfielder Zach Zandi had a stoppage-time penalty kick saved to deny the visitors a point. The Switchbacks have made a solid overall start to the season after its major offseason changes and could see the return to the lineup of attacking midfielder Jairo Henriquez after his return from international duty with El Salvador.

Spotlight Players
Loudoun United FC – Zach Ryan:
The attacking midfielder is set to return to action after a one-game suspension having notched three goals and one assist so far this campaign for his new club.

Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC – Drew Skundrich: A brief signing for Loudoun in 2021 before moving to D.C. United before the season began could be essential in the center of midfield for the visitors.

Indy Eleven vs. Las Vegas Lights FC

Venue: Michael A. Carroll Stadium
Kickoff: 7 p.m. ET
Broadcast: ESPN+ Predictor: IND 51%, LV 22%, Draw 27%

The Lowdown: Indy Eleven hosts its home opener looking to continue its undefeated start to the season against a Las Vegas Lights FC side that has also claimed points from its first two games of the season as it continues its six-game road trip to open the campaign. Indy (1-0-1, 4pts) took a 1-0 victory on the road against Detroit City FC last Saturday afternoon as Bryam Rebellon scored his first goal for the club in the league. The Boys in Blue will be looking for their first home opener victory since 2020 after being held to a 1-1 draw last season by the LA Galaxy II, but Saturday’s game will likely see the home debuts for new arrivals such as Sebastian Guenzatti, Douglas Martinez Jr. and Aodhan Quinn, all of whom will be hoping to make a strong first impression for the Brickyard Battalion. Las Vegas (0-0-2, 2pts) arrives after having earned a 2-2 draw against Orange County SC last Saturday that saw Erick “Cubo” Torres and Pato Botello Faz both score their first goals for the club, and the game will also see a potential return to Carroll Stadium for Andrew Carleton, who recorded one goal and three assists for Indy in 14 appearances during the abbreviated 2020 season while on loan from Atlanta United FC.

Spotlight Players
Indy Eleven – Cam Lindley:
The Indiana native will be aiming for a big performance as he returns for his second home opener with the Boys in Blue after previously competing for Indy in the 2020 season.

Las Vegas Lights FC – Lucas Stauffer: The right back has been a solid addition for Lights FC in the early going, notching one assist and two chances created while winning 5 of 5 tackles defensively. 

Miami FC vs. Memphis 901 FC

Venue: Riccardo Silva Stadium
Kickoff: 7 p.m. ET
Broadcast: ESPN+ Predictor: MIA 48%, MEM 25%, Draw 27%

The Lowdown: Miami FC and Memphis 901 FC will both go in search of their first wins of the season as they meet for the first time this campaign in South Florida. Miami (0-1-2, 2pts) was held to a 1-1 draw for a second time this season in its last outing as Kyle Murphy’s first goal of the season was cancelled out last by Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC’s Burke Fahling at Highmark Stadium. This is the first time Miami has gone winless through three games since its first season in the Championship in 2020, but the side has won three consecutive outings against Memphis, including sweeping last year’s two meetings between the clubs, including a 1-0 victory at Riccardo Silva Stadium on a 90th-minute winner by Adonijah Reid. After finishing second in the Eastern Conference last season, meanwhile, 901 FC (0-2-0, 0pts) is looking for its first points of this season after its clash last weekend against Oakland Roots SC was postponed. Having conceded three goals in each of its two games so far, the visitors will be hoping for a tighter defensive display to support the attacking threat provided by Phillip Goodrum, Jeremy Kelly and Bruno Lapa.

Spotlight Players
Miami FC – Kyle Murphy:
A standout for Memphis in the 2021 season, Murphy scored once in two games last season for Miami and will be aiming for more success after bagging his first goal of the campaign in Pittsburgh.

Memphis 901 FC – Phillip Goodrum: The 2022 Championship All-League selection has come agonizingly close to opening his account in the opening two games of the season and will be hoping to break out this time out.

Tampa Bay Rowdies vs. Birmingham Legion FC

Venue: Al Lang Stadium
Kickoff: 7:30 p.m. ET
Broadcast: ESPN+ Predictor: TBR 50%, BHM 24%, Draw 26%

The Lowdown: The Tampa Bay Rowdies will try to break out of their slowest start to a campaign since joining the USL Championship in 2017 as they host a Birmingham Legion FC side that has won its last two outings in an undefeated start. The Rowdies (0-1-2, 2pts) fell for the first time this season last Saturday in a 3-0 defeat against the Charleston Battery at Patriot Points. Tampa Bay conceded twice in the opening 11 minutes against the Battery and were unable to recover, recording only two shots on target in the contest. The Rowdies and Legion FC played to draws in each of their meetings last season, and Birmingham (2-0-1, 7pts) arrives this weekend off a 1-0 victory against Hartford Athletic last weekend that moved the side on top of the early Eastern Conference standings. A first-half goal by Gabriel Alves – his first in the professional ranks – proved the difference at Trinity Health Stadium as Legion FC won its first road game of the season. Birmingham has not defeated Tampa Bay in the past five meetings between the sides overall, however, and will be looking for its first victory in the series since its inaugural season in 2019 on Saturday.

Spotlight Players
Tampa Bay Rowdies – Cal Jennings:
The new Rowdies arrival has looked bright in spells in the early going but will be aiming to get off the mark with a first goal of the season as the hosts look for their first win in 2023.

Birmingham Legion FC – Juan Agudelo: The former United States international has been influential in the Legion FC attack with six chances created and seven successful dribbles and will now hope to find his first goal of the season.

Monterey Bay F.C. vs. San Antonio FC

Venue: Cardinale Stadium
Kickoff: 10 p.m. ET
Broadcast: ESPN+ Predictor: MB 25%, SA 48%, Draw 27%

The Lowdown: San Antonio FC will try to continue its undefeated start to the season as it heads to face Monterey Bay F.C., which will unveil new alternate kits that pay homage to its Fort Ord heritage at Cardinale Stadium. Monterey Bay (1-1-1, 4pts) has made a solid start to its second campaign in the Championship and is coming off a 1-1 draw against Rio Grande Valley FC last Friday night that saw goalkeeper Antony Siaha produce a stellar nine-save performance before the visitors conceded a stoppage-time equalizer to the Toros at H-E-B Park. MBFC gave San Antonio a test when the teams most recently met in California as a late goal by Santiago Patiño proved the difference in a 3-2 victory for the visitors. San Antonio (2-0-1, 7pts) picked up its second win of the season last weekend as it took a 1-0 victory against Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC thanks to a late goal by Mohammed Abu before goalkeeper Jordan Farr denied a stoppage-time penalty kick to preserve the win at Toyota Field. The 2022 USL Championship Goalkeeper of the Year, Farr has picked up where he left off last season and sits tied for second in the league with 12 saves alongside MBFC’s Siaha, helping the defending Championship title holders extend their current undefeated streak across the playoffs and regular season to 14 games.  

Spotlight Players
Monterey Bay F.C. – Alex Dixon:
The veteran forward found the net against Rio Grande Valley FC and now leads the Championship with four goals overall this campaign as the hosts look to surprise the defending title holders.

San Antonio FC – Lamar Batista: The central defender saw his contract extended through the end of the 2023 season this week after a stellar start to the campaign. He’ll look to help the visitors earn a second consecutive shutout on Saturday.

Oakland Roots SC vs. New Mexico United

Venue: Pioneer Stadium
Kickoff: 10 p.m. ET
Broadcast: ESPN+ Predictor: OAK 41%, NM 31%, Draw 28%

The Lowdown: Oakland Roots SC will take its home opener on the road to the campus of CSU East Bay as it plays host to a New Mexico United side looking to add to its season-opening victory two weeks ago as it returns to action. New Mexico (1-0-0, 3pts) claimed a 1-0 victory on the road against Miami FC on March 18 as Justin Portillo’s late penalty kick earned his side a season-opening victory for a second consecutive season. United will be looking for a second consecutive victory against Oakland after taking a 2-1 victory last season behind goals from Neco Brett and Chris Wehan, a result that moved New Mexico’s overall undefeated streak in the series between the clubs to three games. Oakland (0-1-1, 1pt) returns to action after the postponement of its clash with Memphis 901 FC last weekend aiming for its first win of the new season. The contest could see a first start for Roots SC by El Salvador Bryan Tamacas, who on Thursday was named to the Concacaf Nations League A Best XI for the March window of games after a solid display against the United States on Monday in Orlando, Fla.  

Spotlight Players
Oakland Roots SC – Edgardo Rito:
The Venezuelan found the net when these sides last met and his dynamic play down the flank should pose a threat that New Mexico needs to handle effectively.

New Mexico United – Will Seymore: The veteran defender put in a solid shift as United posted a shutout in its season opener, winning 3 of 4 duels and completing 88 of 104 passes in New Mexico’s patient possession style.

Sacramento Republic FC vs. Louisville City FC

Venue: Heart Health Park
Kickoff: 10 p.m. ET
Broadcast: ESPN+ Predictor: SAC 33%, LOU 38%, Draw 29%

The Lowdown: Two sides viewed as among the contenders for the USL Championship title at the end of the season will square off as Sacramento Republic FC looks to continue its undefeated start to the season against a Louisville City FC aiming to rebound from its first setback. Sacramento (2-0-1, 7pts) claimed a 1-0 victory against California rival San Diego Loyal SC last Saturday night at Heart Health Park as Luis Felipe Fernandes scored the only goal of the game. With seven points from three games, Republic FC is out to its best start to a season since 2019, but it will get a test from defending Eastern Conference title holder LouCity as it heads to California for the third time already this campaign. Louisville (2-1-0, 6pts) fell 3-0 against El Paso Locomotive FC last Saturday afternoon in its home opener, the heaviest defeat suffered by the club in Head Coach Danny Cruz’s tenure, but the side is set to return some key players including Brian Ownby (suspension), Joshua Wynder (international duty) and Wilson Harris (injury) as it looks to rebound. Having taken victory against Orange County SC and Monterey Bay F.C. previously on the road this season, LouCity will aim to emulate its 3-1 victory when it hosted Sacramento last season in the first meeting between the clubs in their histories.

Spotlight Players
Sacramento Republic FC – Russell Cicerone:
The Republic FC newcomer scored his first two goals against Louisville in his career in last year’s postseason for Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC, and should pose a serious threat to LouCity’s back line.

Louisville City FC – Wilson Harris: LouCity’s leading goalscorer last season has been sidelined after a preseason injury but the California native could make his first appearance of this campaign on Saturday night.

Phoenix Rising FC vs. San Diego Loyal SC

Venue: Phoenix Rising Soccer Complex
Kickoff: 10:30 p.m. ET
Broadcast: ESPN+ Predictor: PHX 48%, SD 27%, Draw 25%

The Lowdown: Phoenix Rising FC will make its debut at its new location within the city’s city limits as it squares off with San Diego Loyal SC for the second time this campaign looking for a first win of the season. Rising FC (0-1-1, 1pt) will square off with SD Loyal for a second consecutive outing after a bye in Week 3 and will be hoping to avenge a 3-0 defeat at Torero Stadium on March 19 that saw San Diego pull away for victory after opening the scoring late in the first half. Phoenix will be looking for an attacking breakthrough with Danny Trejo the lone player to have found the net in two games as Federico Varela has notched three chances created and Manuel Arteaga three shots on target so far this season. SD Loyal (2-1-0, 6pts), meanwhile, will try to rebound from its first loss of the season against Sacramento Republic FC last Saturday night at Heart Health Park. San Diego had chances against Sacramento but was unable to convert as it slipped to third place in the Western Conference standings. With a three-game winning streak in the series between the sides after their Week 2 win, however, SD Loyal will be hopeful of spoiling the party for an anticipated sellout crowd set to welcome Rising FC to their new home.

Spotlight Players
Phoenix Rising FC – Carlos Harvey:
The Panamanian international will need to be a driving force in midfield for the hosts as it looks to break through after completing 66 of 76 passes in his debut for the club.

San Diego Loyal SC – Joe Corona: The former United States international has made a strong start for his hometown club, completing 83 percent of passes and recording five chances created across three starts.

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