San Antono FC's Toyota Field will be center stage as the defending Championship title holders face the challenge of Sacramento Republic FC on Saturday night. | Photo courtesy Darren Abate / San Antonio FC
After this week’s Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup action, the USL Championship returns to action this weekend with a nine-game slate of games on Saturday that includes a top-two clash in the Western Conference and one of the notable rivalries in the league between its two current Sunshine State clubs.
Here’s a look ahead at all the action.
Venue: Lynn Family Stadium
Kickoff: 3 p.m. ET
538.com Predictor: LOU 64%, DET 13%, Draw 24%
The Lowdown: Louisville City FC will try to snap a two-game league losing streak as it squares off with Detroit City FC for the first time this season with both teams having picked up victories in the Open Cup in midweek. LouCity (2-2-0, 6pts) earned a 1-0 victory against USL League One club Lexington SC on Tuesday night as Sean Totsch scored the only goal in the second half, setting up a visit to Major League Soccer’s FC Cincinnati in the Third Round. The hosts will hope for more of the same defensively against Le Rouge (1-3-0, 3pts) after conceding eight goals in their past two league games in a pair of defeats, with DCFC hoping for an uptick in attacking success after a quiet start to the season. Detroit earned a 1-0 win against Gold Star Detroit FC on Tuesday night as Yazeed Matthews scored the only goal late in the first half but has been held scoreless in three of its four league outings so far this season including a 1-0 loss to Rio Grande Valley FC last Saturday afternoon. LouCity claimed a 2-1 win the last time these sides met at Lynn Family Stadium as Joshua Wynder scored the winner, a result the side will be hoping to replicate this time around.
Louisville City FC – Brian Ownby: The veteran winger has notched one goal and two assists this season and will look to add to those numbers as the hosts look to turn things around in the league.
Detroit City FC – Richie Ballard: The Louisville native could face his first professional club having made four starts for Le Rouge this season, recording three chances created and an 85 percent passing accuracy rate.
Venue: Torero Stadium
Kickoff: 5 p.m. ET
538.com Predictor: SD 64%, TUL 15%, Draw 21%
The Lowdown: San Diego Loyal SC will look to continue a perfect start to the season on home turf as it plays host to an FC Tulsa side that is undefeated in its last three games in the league but fell in midweek in the Open Cup. SD Loyal (2-1-1, 7pts) had no such issues in securing a place in the Open Cup Third Round on Wednesday night as it took a 2-0 victory against ALBION San Diego as 16-year-old goalkeeper Duran Ferree recorded his first shutout in the professional ranks. The hosts are coming off a 2-2 draw at Phoenix Rising FC last Saturday in league action as goals by Nick Moon and Ronaldo Damus inside the final 20 minutes pulled the visitors back to earn a point. SD Loyal has won both of its prior home games this season, though, a record that Tulsa (1-1-3, 6pts) will try to challenge having earned a late 2-2 draw against El Paso Locomotive FC last Friday night thanks to Moses Dyer’s stoppage-time equalizer at ONEOK Field. Tulsa claimed victory last season when these sides met in Oklahoma as Dario Suarez scored the only goal, and the side has been bright in the league overall offensively with Rodrigo da Costa, Marcus Epps and Milo Yosef each having scored twice this season.
San Diego Loyal SC – Ronaldo Damus: The Haiti international has scored twice in three appearances since joining SD Loyal on loan this season and has looked sharp overall in his return to the league.
FC Tulsa – Marcus Epps: The winger was rested for Tulsa’s midweek Open Cup clash and will need to be at his best to challenge a San Diego defense that has posted shutouts in each of its first two home games this season.
Venue: Michael A. Carroll Stadium
Kickoff: 7 p.m. ET
538.com Predictor: IND 38%, OAK 33%, Draw 29%
The Lowdown: Indy Eleven and Oakland Roots SC will square off for the first time in their histories as the hosts look to continue an undefeated start to the season. Indy (1-0-2, 5pts) played to a 0-0 draw last Saturday night in its home opener against Las Vegas Lights FC, but saw its attack start to fire in the Open Cup on Wednesday night as Sebastian Guenzatti scored his first goal in the club’s colors and Solomon Asante had an assist in a 3-1 victory against Michigan Stars FC after extra time. Oakland (1-1-1, 4pts) also advanced in the Open Cup on Tuesday night as early goals by Johnny Rodriguez and Wolfgang Prentice paved the way to a 3-1 victory against amateurs El Farolito FC. Roots SC also picked up its first win of the league season last weekend as Rodriguez lifted the side to a 1-0 win against New Mexico United, and the visitors will be hoping to now end a three-game winless streak on the road against one of the teams expected to contend in the Eastern Conference this season.
Indy Eleven – Sebastian Guenzatti: After scoring his first goal for the Boys in Blue in midweek, the veteran forward will look for his first league tally for the club, which would also be his 60th in the Championship’s regular season overall.
Oakland Roots SC – Edgardo Rito: The Venezuelan right back has notched a pair of assists already this season and will be a threat Indy has to account for in the attacking half.
Venue: 7:30 p.m. ET
Kickoff: Patriots Point
538.com Predictor: CHS 49%, HFD 26%, Draw 24%
The Lowdown: The Charleston Battery will try to continue their undefeated start to the season as they play host to a Hartford Athletic side looking for its first league win of the season with both clubs coming off convincing midweek victories in the Open Cup. The Battery (1-0-2, 5pts) swept to a 4-1 victory against Savannah Clovers FC on Tuesday night as the side built on a convincing 3-0 win against the Tampa Bay Rowdies in its most recent league outing on March 25. Fidel Barajas and Nick Markanich each recorded a goal and assist against Tampa Bay, with the 17-year-old Barajas earning nomination for the Championship’s Player of the Month award after a stellar start to the new campaign. Joining him on the Player of the Month ballot is Hartford’s Prince Saydee, who has been a bright spot for the side despite a winless start in the league. The Athletic (0-2-2, 2pts) picked up a 3-0 victory against Lansdowne Yonkers FC on Tuesday night as Elvis Amoh scored a hat trick at Trinity Health Stadium, and the visitors will be hoping for more of the same. Charleston has won all four of the prior meetings between the clubs in the Lowcountry, however, a record the Battery will be looking to add to.
Charleston Battery – Robbie Crawford: The Scottish veteran scored in midweek against Savannah and his versatility has been a major plus for the Battery this season in the club’s undefeated start.
Hartford Athletic – Antoine Hoppenot: The veteran winger has notched eight chances created in four games so far this season but has yet to pick up a goal or assist, something he’ll be eager to change this time out.
Venue: Al Lang Stadium
Kickoff: 7:30 p.m. ET
538.com Predictor: TBR 50%, MIA 22%, Draw 28%
The Lowdown: The Tampa Bay Rowdies and Miami FC will both try to pick up their first league wins of the season as they renew their rivalry in downtown St. Petersburg, Fla. after slow starts to the campaign. Tampa Bay (0-2-2, 4pts) partially rebounded from a 2-0 defeat to Birmingham Legion FC on its home turf last Saturday night in midweek when veteran forward Lucky Mkosana notched a goal and assist and JJ Williams found the net in a 2-0 win in the Open Cup against USL League Two club NONA FC. The Rowdies are yet to find victory in the league through four games, the club’s poorest start to a campaign since it joined the Championship in 2017, but the side has held the upper hand overall on its South Florida rival, including a 3-1 victory last October in the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals of the USL Championship Playoffs. Miami (0-1-3, 3pts) has drawn three of its first four games of the season after being held to a 1-1 draw by Memphis 901 FC at Riccardo Silva Stadium last Saturday, but the side did earn a positive result on Tuesday night as a pair of late goals by Claudio Repetto lifted the side to a 3-1 win against Jacksonville Armada FC in the Open Cup. With a clash against Inter Miami CF to now look forward to in the Third Round, Head Coach Anthony Pulis’ side will be hoping to build momentum as it looks for just its second win in club history at Al Lang Stadium.
Tampa Bay Rowdies – Yann Ekra: The veteran attacking midfielder could record the 250th regular season appearance of his career in the Championship, which would make him only the second player to do so in league history.
Miami FC – Callum Chapman-Page: The English center back has been solid so far this season and has popped up in key moments in the rivalry in the past, including scoring a game-winning goal in a 2021 meeting between the clubs.
Venue: Weidner Field
Kickoff: 8 p.m. ET
538.com Predictor: COS 51%, PIT 21%, Draw 28%
The Lowdown: Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC and Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC will meet for the first time as the Switchbacks try to rebound from a midweek setback in the Open Cup against a Hounds side that has made an undefeated start to the campaign. Pittsburgh (1-0-3, 6pts) returns to action for the first time since a 0-0 draw on March 28 against FC Tulsa at ONEOK Field in which goalkeeper Jahmali Waite recorded his first shutout of the season. The Hounds got a break this week after being awarded a bye to the Third Round of the Open Cup after the withdrawal of Rochester NY FC following the Second Round draw’s announcement, and they will look to use that to their advantage against a Colorado Springs side that went to extra time before falling to League One club Northern Colorado Hailstorm FC on Wednesday night. The Switchbacks (2-1-1, 7pts) have made a solid start to their league campaign, sitting with two wins out of four after claiming a 1-0 victory against Loudoun United FC last Saturday evening as Romario Williams scored his first goal for the club. Deshane Beckford has also been bright for the side, sitting with a league-high three assists this season, and he could prove key again here.
Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC – Speedy Williams: A former standout at Robert Morris University in Pittsburgh, the veteran Jamaican international will need to be at his best against a good Hounds midfield.
Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC – Arturo Ordonez: The Spanish center back has made a strong start to the campaign, playing every minute in the league, and will look to lead the Hounds back line to another good display.
Venue: Toyota Field
Kickoff: 8:30 p.m. ET
538.com Predictor: SA 49%, SAC 23%, Draw 28%
The Lowdown: The top two teams in the Western Conference will square off for the first time this season with San Antonio FC aiming to continue its 15-game undefeated streak across the regular season and playoffs against a Sacramento Republic FC side that has scored five goals in each of its past two outings. Sacramento’s attacking success came in wildly varying scenarios, with Republic FC (3-0-1, 10pts) romping to a 5-0 victory against Louisville City FC last Saturday night before having to rally for a 5-4 win after extra time against amateur side Crossfire Redmond in the Open Cup on Wednesday night. Russell Cicerone scored twice in both contests – coming on as a halftime substitute in the Open Cup win – and has now scored five goals across all competitions for his new club. San Antonio (3-0-1, 10pts), meanwhile, took a 2-1 victory against Monterey Bay F.C. last Saturday in its last league outing as Zico Bailey scored his first goal of the season. The hosts have a lengthy list of players currently considered questionable for Saturday’s game, however, with only goalkeeper Carlos Mercado of its professional signings appearing in a 2-1 win against Club de Leon FC in the Open Cup as the rest of the squad was rested to avoid injury. In what could be a preview of a Western Conference Final down the line, Republic FC will be looking to set a marker against the team whose success they’re aiming to replicate this season.
San Antonio FC – Lamar Batista: The center back will need to play a major role in trying to contain a Sacramento attack that has looked strong so far this season as it arrives at Toyota Field.
Sacramento Republic FC – Jack Gurr: The right-sided wingback has recorded two goals and one assist so far this season while recording seven chances created and will be a key matchup for San Antonio to contend with.
Venue: Southwest University Park
Kickoff: 9:30 p.m. ET
538.com Predictor: ELP 40%, OC 34%, Draw 27%
The Lowdown: El Paso Locomotive FC and Orange County SC will square off for the first time this season both aiming to boost their positions in the Western Conference after differing outcomes in midweek during the Open Cup. Orange County (0-1-3, 3pts) enters looking for its first league win of the season but claimed an emphatic 5-0 victory against Capo FC on Wednesday night as Milan Iloski had two goals and one assist and Alex Villanueva two assists against the amateur side. Bryce Jamieson also found the net for OCSC in midweek and the 17-year-old will be hoping for more success after scoring his first professional goal at Southwest University Park when the teams last met. El Paso (1-3-1, 4pts) fell 2-0 on the road against USL League One club Union Omaha on Wednesday night, meanwhile, and the side is looking to add to its lone win of the season as it returns home after being pegged back in a 2-2 draw with FC Tulsa in its last league outing. Luis Solignac scored his first two goals of the season in that contest, however, and will be eager to pick up the pace as Locomotive FC tries to extend its undefeated run against Orange County, which currently stands at four games dating back to the 2019 season.
El Paso Locomotive FC – Eric Calvillo: The El Salvador international has notched a pair of assists in five appearances so far this season and will be looking for another positive display back on home turf.
Orange County SC – Andrew Fox: The English center back is set to make his return to Southwest University Park having joined OCSC this offseason after four seasons with Locomotive FC.
Venue: Cardinale Stadium
Kickoff: 10 p.m. ET
538.com Predictor: MB 33%, NM 39%, Draw 28%
The Lowdown: Monterey Bay F.C. and New Mexico United will both look to build on Open Cup victories in midweek as they look to make headway in the Western Conference standings. Monterey Bay (1-2-1, 4pts) claimed a 3-1 victory after extra time against USL League One club Central Valley Fuego FC on Wednesday night as Alex Dixon and Christian Volesky each recorded a goal and assist after coming on as substitutes. The hosts will be hoping to rebound from a 2-1 defeat to San Antonio FC last weekend in the league as a late goal grabbed victory for the defending Championship title holders at Cardinale Stadium, but Dixon’s form has been reason for confidence for the side as his four goals in March earned nomination for the Championship’s Player of the Month award. New Mexico (1-1-0, 3pts) rebounded from its first league defeat of the season on the road at Oakland Roots SC last weekend with a 6-0 romp against amateur side UDA Soccer on Tuesday night in the Open Cup as Josh Dolling scored a hat trick for his first goals for the club. United also saw USL Academy signing Andres Robles notch a pair of assists in the result, but the visitors will be without one of their key players in Monterey Bay with midfielder Justin Portillo suspended after a red card against Oakland last weekend.
Monterey Bay F.C. – Sam Gleadle: The attacking midfielder has scored two goals in as many games across all competitions after finding the net against San Antonio last weekend and will look to continue that streak here.
New Mexico United – Chris Wehan: The veteran midfielder scored when the teams last met at Isotopes Park, a 2-0 win for New Mexico, and his next goal will be Wehan’s 50th in the Championship’s regular season.
Tag(s): News Game Previews San Antonio FC CO Spring Switchbacks Orange County SC Sacramento Republic FC FC Tulsa Charleston Battery Louisville City FC Pittsburgh Riverhounds Tampa Bay Rowdies Indy Eleven El Paso Locomotive FC New Mexico United Hartford Athletic San Diego Loyal SC Miami FC Oakland Roots SC Detroit City FC Monterey Bay F.C.