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Gameday Previews – Saturday, April 22

By Staff, 04/21/23, 11:00AM EDT


Top two squads square off in Eastern Conference while San Antonio returns home looking to rebound

San Antonio FC will try to continue its 18-game regular season undefeated streak when it hosts Phoenix Rising FC on Saturday with Phoenix the last visiting side to win at Toyota Field last April. | Photo courtesy Darren Abate / San Antonio FC

The top two teams in the USL Championship’s Eastern Conference will square off on Saturday night as part of an eight-game slate of action that kicks off Week 7 in the regular season, with defending title holders San Antonio FC also set to face the last side to defeat it at Toyota Field and Sacramento Republic FC aiming to remain on top of the Western Conference standings.

Here’s a look ahead at all the action.

Indy Eleven vs. Monterey Bay F.C.

Venue: Michael A. Carroll Stadium
Kickoff: 7 p.m. ET
Broadcast: ESPN+ Predictor: IND 46%, MB 26%, Draw 28%

The Lowdown: Indy Eleven will return home aiming to bounce back from consecutive defeats as it plays host to Monterey Bay F.C., which is undefeated in its last three games across all competitions after a solid start to the campaign. Indy (1-2-2, 5pts) fell 1-0 to Orange County SC as it headed west last weekend, marking a third consecutive game in which the side was held scoreless in league play. The Boys in Blue will be hoping to see first league goals this season from new arrivals Sebastian Guenzatti or Douglas Martinez Jr. as they look for a first home Championship win this season. Monterey Bay (2-2-2, 8pts) haven’t had such attacking troubles, and earned a 1-1 draw last time out at Phoenix Rising FC as forward Alex Dixon scored his league-leading sixth goal of the season. MBFC added another experienced piece to its attack on Thursday with the arrival of former Championship MVP Ugo Okoli, who should complement players like Christian Volesky, Sam Gleadle and Dixon for a side that is currently tied for the league-lead with 12 goals.

Spotlight Players
Indy Eleven – Jack Blake:
The English midfielder provided a bright spot against Orange County for the Boys in Blue last weekend and will hope that leads to a breakthrough for his new club back on home turf.

Monterey Bay F.C. – Sam Gleadle: The versatile attacker is tied for the league-lead with three assists while also having notched a pair of goals this campaign and will be a player Indy’s defense needs to keep under wraps.

Charleston Battery vs. Louisville City FC

Venue: Patriots Point
Kickoff: 7:30 p.m. ET
Broadcast: ESPN+ Predictor: CHS 30%, LOU 44%, Draw 26%

The Lowdown: The top two teams in the Eastern Conference standings will square off in the Lowcountry as the Charleston Battery look to continue their undefeated start against a LouCity side coming off its biggest win of the season so far. The Battery (4-0-2, 14pts) claimed a 2-1 victory against FC Tulsa last Saturday evening at ONEOK Field as Dante Polvara scored his first goal in the professional ranks early in the second half to provide the game-winner. The win capped a two-win week for Charleston, which had previously defeated the Tampa Bay Rowdies on the road the prior Wednesday night. The side is now on a five-game winning streak in all competitions and sits two points ahead of Louisville at the top of the standings. LouCity (4-2-0, 12pts) arrives in Charleston having held the upper hand in the rivalry between the clubs in recent years, however, with a five-game undefeated streak that continued when the sides last met at Lynn Family Stadium with Louisville taking a 4-1 victory. Wilson Harris was among the goalscorers that night and provided the game-winner for LouCity in its last outing, a 1-0 victory against San Antonio FC last Saturday in a rematch of the 2022 Championship Final. Louisville has recorded consecutive shutout victories to return to second place in the standings and will hope that form continues against the strong attacking unit the Battery have assembled to lead their early surge this season.

Spotlight Players
Charleston Battery – Nick Markanich:
One of the Battery’s new attacking arrivals, Markanich has three goals and one assist in the past four league outings, quickly finding chemistry with his new teammates.

Louisville City FC – Brian Ownby: The veteran winger has scored four goals against the Battery during his career and his potential battle with Charleston left back Deklan Wynne should be a good one.

Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC vs. New Mexico United

Venue: Weidner Field
Kickoff: 8 p.m. ET
Broadcast: ESPN+ Predictor: COS 50%, NM 23%, Draw 27%

The Lowdown: Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC and New Mexico United will both look to get back on a winning track when they clash for the first time this season. Colorado Springs (3-2-1, 10pts) suffered its second league defeat of the season last Saturday as it fell 4-0 to Western Conference leader Sacramento Republic FC despite recording six shots on target and outshooting their hosts 19-12 overall. The Switchbacks have claimed four points from two home games so far this season, however, including a 1-0 win against Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC in their last outing on home turf. New Mexico (1-2-1, 4pts) took a 1-1 draw against San Diego Loyal SC in its last outing, meanwhile, as Sam Hamilton got the club’s home opener off to a flying start before SD Loyal recorded an equalizer in first-half stoppage time. United’s second half display showed signs of the form the side is hoping to capture, and the side took victory against the Switchbacks when the sides last met on the final day of the 2022 regular season as Cristian Nava and Daniel Bruce found the net. That result added to New Mexico’s overall success in the series, with United having taken eight wins in 12 prior meetings between the clubs.

Spotlight Players
Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC – Maalique Foster:
The Jamaican forward has had bright moments so far since his arrival in Colorado Springs and will be hoping to get off the mark after recording three shots and three chances created in Sacramento.

New Mexico United – Amando Moreno: The El Salvador international has found the net once so far this season and will be hoping for more success against Colorado Springs with two goals and one assist previously against the Switchbacks.

Rio Grande Valley FC vs. Memphis 901 FC

Venue: H-E-B Park
Kickoff: 8 p.m. ET
Broadcast: ESPN+ Predictor: RGV 42%, MEM 30%, Draw 28%

The Lowdown: Rio Grande Valley FC will look to bounce back from its first loss of the 2023 season as it plays host to Memphis 901 FC, which heads to the valley aiming to earn its first league win of the campaign. The Toros (1-1-3, 6pts) suffered a 2-0 defeat to Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC last Saturday night at Highmark Stadium to cap a two-game road trip and will now go after a first home win of the season after playing to draws in each of its first three games at H-E-B Park this campaign. These sides played to a 2-2 draw when they met for the first time last season, and Memphis (0-2-2, 2pts) played to the same scoreline last Saturday night against Las Vegas Lights FC as Jeremy Kelly and Luiz Fernando found the net, only for the visitors to grab an equalizer with 11 minutes to go. 901 FC has found the net in each of its first five games of the season in all competitions but is looking for its first shutout of the campaign, something the side and goalkeeper Bill Hamid will be aiming to change in South Texas.

Spotlight Players
Rio Grande Valley FC – Frank Nodarse:
The Cuban defender has made a strong start to the season in his second season with the Toros and will hope to limit the chances for a good visiting attack led by Phillip Goodrum.

Memphis 901 FC – Laurent Kissiedou: The attacking midfielder has notched a goal and assist so far this season and found the net when 901 FC played host to the Toros a season ago.

San Antonio FC vs. Phoenix Rising FC

Venue: Toyota Field
Kickoff: 8:30 p.m. ET
Broadcast: ESPN+ Predictor: SA 49%, PHX 24%, Draw 27%

The Lowdown: San Antonio FC will look to continue its year-long home undefeated streak as it plays host to the last team to earn victory as a visitor at Toyota Field in Phoenix Rising FC, which arrives having gone undefeated in its last four outings. San Antonio (3-1-2, 11pts) is looking to rebound from its first loss of the season as it fell 1-0 to Louisville City FC last Saturday at Lynn Family Stadium. The contest marked the second in a row in which San Antonio had been held without a goal, but the side could receive a notable boost this week with the arrival for former Championship All-League selection Jorge Hernandez, who recorded 12 goals and six assists for the LA Galaxy II in the 2021 season before a more recent stint in Europe. Phoenix (1-1-3, 6pts) is looking to build on picking up four points from its past two outings after a 1-1 draw with Monterey Bay F.C. last Saturday night at Phoenix Rising Stadium. Kevon Lambert scored his first goal for the hosts that time out, and the visitors will be hoping they can replicate their success last season against SAFC as they head to Texas for the first time this campaign. Phoenix was the only team to defeat San Antonio home-and-away in the regular season in 2022, with their 2-0 victory in San Antonio on April 2 the last time the defending title holders lost on home turf. The hosts will be aiming to continue a current 18-game regular season home undefeated streak this time out.

Spotlight Players
San Antonio FC – Ignacio Bailone:
The Argentine has been a bright presence for SAFC but only has one goal to show for it so far. He’ll be looking for more this time out.

Phoenix Rising FC – Renzo Zambrano: The central midfielder has played a consistent role for his new club, playing every minute of the season so far, and Phoenix could need him to pull the strings from deep against a good SAFC press.

El Paso Locomotive FC vs. Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC

Venue: Southwest University Park
Kickoff: 9:30 p.m. ET
Broadcast: ESPN+ Predictor: ELP 44%, PIT 27%, Draw 29%

The Lowdown: El Paso Locomotive FC will aim to build on a three-game league undefeated streak as it plays host to Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC with the visitors coming off a strong home victory last time out. El Paso (2-3-1, 7pts) continued to shake off a slow start to the season two weeks ago as it earned its first home win of the season, a 1-0 result against Orange County SC that saw Luis Solignac’s first-half goal stand as the winner. The Argentine has now scored three goals in five appearances this season, continuing his impressive run since joining El Paso in 2021, while goalkeeper Benny Diaz picked up his second shutout of the season in the result. The Hounds (2-1-3, 9pts) should provide a solid test for the hosts here, however, with the side having lost only once so far this season and coming off a 2-0 victory against Rio Grande Valley FC that saw Albert Dikwa and Kenardo Forbes find the net. Dikwa has scored four goals overall this season to lead the Hounds, and the side has been impressive defensively with Jahmali Waite recording two shutouts in the past three games. After the Hounds’ 1-0 victory at Highmark Stadium last season when the sides met for the first time, Pittsburgh will be hoping for a similar display this time around.

Spotlight Players
El Paso Locomotive FC – Eric Calvillo:
The El Salvador international has notched a pair of assists to lead El Paso this season and has recorded eight chances created overall in six appearances.

Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC – Robbie Mertz: The Pittsburgh native will be available for selection after suspension last time out and could prove influential in the attacking half of the field for the visitors.

Orange County SC vs. Birmingham Legion FC

Venue: Championship Soccer Stadium
Kickoff: 10 p.m. ET
Broadcast: ESPN+ Predictor: OC 50%, BHM 24%, Draw 26%

The Lowdown: Orange County SC will try to build on its first league win of the season as it plays host to a Birmingham Legion FC side that has lost consecutive games for the first time this year as it heads west for the first time this campaign. Orange County (1-2-3, 6pts) took a 1-0 victory against Indy Eleven last Saturday night as Milan Iloski scored the only goal from the penalty spot for his third goal of the season. The 2022 Championship Golden Boot winner’s tally moved him into first place in the club’s history for regular season goals, passing Michael Seaton, as he now has 25 since joining OCSC prior to the start of last season. Birmingham (3-2-1, 10pts) is coming off a 3-0 defeat to Loudoun United FC last Saturday evening at Segra Field, a result that marked the first time the side had lost in the Championship by three goals since its inaugural season in 2019. Legion FC remains in third place in the Eastern Conference standings, however, and will be hoping to rebound in the attacking half with Enzo Martinez having returned to action last week and Tyler Pasher potentially available for selection once again.

Spotlight Players
Orange County SC – Thomas Amang:
The Cameroonian made his first league start for his new club last Saturday against Indy and would be hoping to get his name on the scoresheet for the first time on Saturday night.

Birmingham Legion FC – Enzo Martinez: The veteran playmaker played in the second half of his side’s loss at Loudoun and will be looking to have a key impact after notching one assist so far this season.

Venue: Heart Health Park
Kickoff: 10 p.m. ET
Broadcast: ESPN+ Predictor: SAC 60%, DET 14%, Draw 26%

The Lowdown: Sacramento Republic FC will try to continue its undefeated start to the season as it plays host to Detroit City FC with the visitors having struggled to find the net as it faces the best defense in the league so far this campaign. Sacramento (4-0-2, 14pts) maintained its impressive start with a 4-0 victory against Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC that saw four different players find the net at Heart Health Park. Russell Cicerone notched a goal and assist for the hosts in the win, while goalkeeper Danny Vitiello had a six-save shutout to earn Championship Team of the Week honors. Vitiello has recorded five shutouts in six games so far this campaign, with Sacramento having conceded only once in league play so far. That could be a challenge for Le Rouge (1-4-1, 4pts) who are coming off a 0-0 draw with Miami FC last Saturday evening in South Florida and have been held scoreless in their last four outings in the league. Republic FC took a 2-0 victory when these sides met at Keyworth Stadium last season as Damia Viader and Keko scored for the visitors, and a similar result here would move Sacramento close to the Top 10 of the longest shutout streaks in the Championship’s regular season history.

Spotlight Players
Sacramento Republic FC – Russell Cicerone:
The new arrival has scored four goals in six league appearances so far this season, providing the finishing Sacramento was looking for this season.

Detroit City FC – Michael Bryant: The center back has been a busy man on the back line for Le Rouge with 21 clearances and 14 interceptions so far this season and could be key if the visitors are to come away with a result.

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