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Gameday Previews – Saturday, April 29

By Staff, 04/28/23, 12:30PM EDT


Busy day of action sees undefeated Battery host Switchbacks, Sacramento hit road to face Tulsa

Phoenix Rising FC will return home to host Loudoun United FC in one of Saturday night's notable matchups in the USL Championship. | Photo courtesy JJ Digos / Phoenix Rising FC

The busiest Saturday of the season so far with an 11-game slate kicks off Week 8 in the USL Championship this weekend as the Charleston Battery and Sacramento Republic FC look to continue their undefeated starts and build on Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup success in midweek and San Diego Loyal SC defend its perfect home record against an El Paso Locomotive FC side that has gone four league games without defeat.

Here’s a look ahead at all the action.

Detroit City FC vs. Tampa Bay Rowdies

Venue: Keyworth Stadium
Kickoff: 4 p.m. ET
Broadcast: ESPN+ Predictor: DET 36%, TBR 33%, Draw 31%

The Lowdown: Detroit City FC and the Tampa Bay Rowdies will both try to get their seasons on track as they square off after defeats last weekend and in midweek in the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup. Le Rouge (1-5-1, 4pts) suffered a 1-0 defeat on the road against Western Conference leader Sacramento Republic FC last Saturday night and after taking a lead at home against Minnesota United FC of MLS in the Open Cup on Tuesday night saw three rapid-fire goals by the visitor to Keyworth dash their hopes of another Cupset. Detroit did take a 1-0 victory when the Rowdies headed north last season, a result that helped deliver a playoff berth in the club’s first season in the Championship, and the hosts could be hopeful of something similar given Tampa Bay’s similar struggles. The Rowdies (1-4-2, 5pts) lost a second consecutive league outing last Sunday afternoon in a 1-0 defeat to San Diego Loyal SC and then fell 1-0 at home to Houston Dynamo FC on Wednesday night in the Open Cup. Goals have been hard to come by for both teams with Detroit sitting on a league-fewest three goals and the Rowdies having found the net only five times, meaning this could be a tense affair between two sides under pressure to win.

Spotlight Players
Detroit City FC – Yazeed Matthews:
The longtime DCFC forward has three goals in all competitions this season after finding the net against Minnesota United FC and could provide the breakthrough the hosts need to end a 462-minute scoreless streak in league play.

Tampa Bay Rowdies – Forrest Lasso: The veteran center back returned to action in midweek against Houston after welcoming a new daughter to the family and is set to make his 150th regular season appearance in the Championship.

FC Tulsa vs. Sacramento Republic FC

Venue: ONEOK Field
Kickoff: 6 p.m. ET
Broadcast: ESPN+ Predictor: TUL 28%, SAC 45%, Draw 27%

The Lowdown: Sacramento Republic FC will try to continue its undefeated start to the season and length shutout streak as it heads to face an FC Tulsa side looking to break a four-game winless streak. Republic FC (5-0-2, 17pts) won for the fourth time in the past five league games last Saturday night as an early goal by Luis Felipe Fernandes proved the difference in a 1-0 victory against Detroit City FC at Heart Health Park. The win saw Sacramento record its sixth shutout in seven league games this season, with the club’s current shutout streak sitting at 518 minutes, just outside the Top 10 all-time in the Championship’s regular season history. Republic FC also claimed a 1-0 win in the Open Cup on Wednesday night against rival Oakland Roots SC as Nick Ross scored the decisive goal. The visitors’ defensive record could be tested by Tulsa (1-3-3, 6pts), however, with the hosts having scored in six of their seven outings so far this season. Head Coach Blair Gavin’s side suffered a 2-1 defeat last time out on April 15 against the Charleston Battery despite Marcus Epps scoring his third goal of the season. The hosts will have to overturn their history with Sacramento to find success, however, with Republic FC undefeated in the past 11 meetings between the sides, having claimed victory in nine of them after a 2-1 result last season at Heart Health Park.

Spotlight Players
FC Tulsa – Bradley Bourgeois:
The veteran center back is set to make his 150th regular season appearance on Saturday night and will need to put in a strong display to contain a strong Sacramento attack.

Sacramento Republic FC – Jack Gurr: The right-sided wingback has been an integral part of Sacramento’s attack with two goals and two assists so far this season while starting every league game so far.

Indy Eleven vs. Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC

Venue: Michael A. Carroll Stadium
Kickoff: 7 p.m. ET
Broadcast: ESPN+ Predictor: IND 37%, PIT 33%, Draw 30%

The Lowdown: Indy Eleven will try to turn its fortunes around as it plays host to a Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC side that has held the upper hand in the series between the two squads of late, with the Hounds looking to build on a solid victory in the Open Cup in midweek after dropping their last league outing. Indy (1-3-2, 6pts) suffered its third consecutive league defeat last Saturday night as it let a halftime lead slip in a 3-2 loss to Monterey Bay F.C. Indy got a goal and assist from Solomon Asante in the result, moving the Ghanaian to 99 combined goals and assists in the Championship’s regular season, but the Boys in Blue have lost three in a row to the Hounds, with Pittsburgh having taken a 2-0 victory on their last trip to Michael A. Carroll Stadium a season ago. The Hounds (2-3-2, 8pts) fell 2-0 to El Paso Locomotive FC last Saturday night for their second road defeat in the past three games, but the side rebounded to claim a 2-0 victory on Tuesday night against Maryland Bobcats FC in the Open Cup to set up a contest with the New England Revolution in the next round. Edward Kizza and Burke Fahling scored for the Hounds in that contest as Head Coach Bob Lilley rested key starters like Albert Dikwa (4 goals) and Kenardo Forbes ahead of an important road contest this weekend.

Spotlight Players
Indy Eleven – Aodhan Quinn:
The veteran midfielder notched his 49th regular season assist against Monterey Bay F.C. and would be just the third to reach the half-century mark with another helper here.

Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC – Jahmali Waite: The Jamaican goalkeeper had a crucial second-half error against El Paso to give Locomotive FC an insurance goal last weekend as the Hounds pushed to equalize and will want to bounce back here.

Charleston Battery vs. Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC

Venue: Patriots Point
Kickoff: 7:30 p.m. ET
Broadcast: ESPN+ Predictor: CHS 36%, COS 36%, Draw 28%

The Lowdown: The Charleston Battery will try to continue their undefeated start to the season as they play host to Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC but will be without a key attacking piece in fascinating interconference clash. The Battery (4-0-3, 15pts) played to a 0-0 draw last Saturday night against second-placed Louisville City FC to continue their strong start to the season but forward Augustine Williams sent off late in the contest, resulting in a one-game suspension to be served on Saturday night. The Battery came through with a 1-0 win on Tuesday night against the Charlotte Independence in the Open Cup, however, as Nick Markanich continued his stellar start to the season with his fifth goal in all competitions to set up a visit to Inter Miami CF of MLS in the Round of 32. The Switchbacks (4-2-1, 13pts) continued their strong start to the campaign with a 2-1 victory last Saturday night against New Mexico United at Weidner Field, meanwhile, as Drew Skundrich scored the winner for the hosts. Colorado Springs is now third in the Western Conference and is currently undefeated against Eastern Conference opposition so far this season (2-0-1).

Spotlight Players
Charleston Battery – Tristan Trager:
The 23-year-old could step into the striker position in the Battery’s typical 4-2-3-1 formation in Williams’ absence as he looks for his first goal of the regular season.

Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC – Romario Williams: A former Battery standout, the Jamaican forward has two goals in the league so far this season to help the side’s solid start to the campaign.

Memphis 901 FC vs. Louisville City FC

Venue: AutoZone Park
Kickoff: 8 p.m. ET
Broadcast: ESPN+ Predictor: MEM 34%, LOU 39%, Draw 27%

The Lowdown: Memphis 901 FC will try to continue its recent upswing in form as it plays host to Louisville City FC, which arrives in Tennessee looking to solidify its top-two position in the Eastern Conference. 901 FC (1-2-2, 5pts) claimed its first victory of the league season last Saturday night with a convincing 3-0 result against Rio Grande Valley FC that saw Bruno Lapa, Graham Smith and Nighte Pickering all find the net, and then followed that result with one of the result of the Open Cup Third Round on Wednesday with a 2-1 victory in extra time against Atlanta United FC. Phillip Goodrum scored from the penalty spot against his former club in second-half stoppage time to send the game to extra time before Pickering’s goal in the 100th minute served as the winner in Memphis’ first win against an MLS club. LouCity (4-2-1, 13pts) wasn’t as fortunate in the Open Cup as it fell 1-0 to FC Cincinnati at TQL Stadium on a late goal by the hosts, but the defending Eastern Conference title holders are undefeated in their last three games in the league after a 0-0 draw with current conference leader the Charleston Battery last Saturday. Louisville has recorded shutouts in its last three league outings, and won in its last visit to AutoZone Park as Brian Ownby scored a pair of goals in a 2-1 victory, a result the visitors will be hoping to repeat this time around.

Spotlight Players
Memphis 901 FC – Phillip Goodrum:
The 2022 All-League selection finally got off the mark this season on Wednesday night and will be hoping that sparks a run of form in the league that can help propel Memphis to a third consecutive win in all competitions.

Louisville City FC – Enoch Mushagalusa: The left winger has recorded a goal and assist this campaign but only four chances created so far and could be key as the Louisville attack looks for an added spark after recent outings.

San Antonio FC vs. Las Vegas Lights FC

Venue: Toyota Field
Kickoff: 8:30 p.m. ET
Broadcast: ESPN+ Predictor: SA 70%, LV 9%, Draw 21%

The Lowdown: San Antonio FC will look to break its first three-game league winless streak since the 2021 season as it plays host to a Las Vegas Lights FC side that suffered its first loss of the Championship campaign last time out. SAFC (3-1-3, 12pts) was held to a 1-1 draw by Phoenix Rising FC last Saturday night in its most recent outing to drop to fourth place in the Western Conference standings, and then suffered a narrow 1-0 defeat to Nashville SC in the Open Cup on Wednesday night as it was denied a second consecutive year with an upset of top-flight opposition. The side has added attacking reinforcements, however, with the familiar face of last season’s leading scorer Samuel Adeniran arriving on loan from St. Louis CITY SC and Tani Oluwaseyi coming in on loan from Minnesota United FC. Lights FC (0-1-4, 4pts) arrives in Texas after suffering its first league loss of the season in a 4-1 setback last Sunday against Miami FC and a 3-1 loss after extra time to Real Salt Lake in the Open Cup on Wednesday night. Las Vegas had previously proven a difficult side to break down, however, and after holding RSL scoreless through 90 minutes will be hoping to put together another solid defensive display as it looks for its first win against San Antonio since the 2019 season.

Spotlight Players
San Antonio FC – Samuel Adeniran:
The big Texan made his return to SAFC’s lineup on Wednesday as a substitute in Nashville and after 13 goals a season ago for the club could get a move into the starting lineup here.

Las Vegas Lights FC – Luke Stauffer: The right back has recorded two goals and two assists this season in the Championship and found the net against RSL in extra time on Wednesday night to continue his hot start.

New Mexico United vs. Orange County SC

Venue: Isotopes Park
Kickoff: 9 p.m. ET
Broadcast: ESPN+ Predictor: NM 43%, OC 30%, Draw 28%

The Lowdown: New Mexico United will be aiming to build on its midweek Open Cup success as it plays host to an Orange County SC side also looking to rebound from a setback in its last league contest. New Mexico (1-3-1, 4pts) saw its league winless streak reach four games last Saturday night as it fell 2-1 to Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC at Weidner Field despite opening the scoring through Santi Moar. United claimed victory on Wednesday night in the Open Cup, however, as Josh Dolling’s late goal saw the side advance past fellow Championship side Phoenix Rising FC at Isotopes Park and into a clash with Austin FC of Major League Soccer in the Round of 32. The hosts are now undefeated in their past five home games dating back to last season, while Orange County SC (1-3-3, 6pts) is winless on the road in its past eight league contests dating to last July. OCSC fell 2-1 against Birmingham Legion FC in its last league outing despite taking a first-half lead through Emil Nielsen and also came out on the short end of a 3-1 defeat to Portland Timbers FC on Wednesday night in the Open Cup despite Milan Iloski’s second-half finish and a battling all-around display. With both teams looking for their second league win of the season, this is an important contest for both as the first quarter of the campaign concludes.

Spotlight Players
New Mexico United – Justin Portillo:
The central midfielder found the net when New Mexico took a 2-1 victory in its last meeting with Orange County SC and will be counted on to provide creativity for the hosts here.

Orange County SC – Bryce Jamieson: The 17-year-old winger has made a bright start to the season and led the side with three chances created in Portland as he looks for his first goal of the campaign on Saturday.

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

Venue: Cardinale Stadium
Kickoff: 10 p.m. ET
Broadcast: ESPN+ Predictor: MB 45%, RGV 27%, Draw 28%

The Lowdown: Monterey Bay F.C. will try to maintain its momentum after a historic midweek victory continued a strong start to the season as it hosts a Rio Grande Valley FC side in need of a turnaround as it heads to the west coast for the second meeting between the clubs this season. Monterey Bay (3-2-2, 11pts) claimed a 1-0 victory against the San Jose Earthquakes on Tuesday night at Cardinale Stadium in the Open Cup for the club’s first win against an MLS opponent as Christian Volesky scored the only goal and the hosts posted their first shutout of the season. Volesky has impressed throughout April, and notched a goal and assist to claim his second Player of the Week award of the month as he led the side’s 3-2 win against Indy Eleven in its most recent league outing last Saturday night, moving Monterey Bay’s league undefeated run to three games. RGVFC (1-2-3, 6pts) has lost its last two outings, meanwhile, after suffering a 3-0 defeat at home to Memphis 901 FC last Saturday night. The Toros grabbed a late equalizer when these teams first played this season on March 24 as Taylor Davila found the net in stoppage time, but the visitors have struggled for goals overall this campaign with only four in six league games, something they’ll have to fix if they’re to end Monterey Bay’s current run of form.

Spotlight Players
Monterey Bay F.C. – Alex Dixon:
The Championship’s leading goalscorer found the net when the sides met in Texas in March for one of his six goals this season and has proven influential as a playmaker as well.

Rio Grande Valley FC – Wilmer Cabrera Jr.: The young forward has impressed with his all-around game so far this season but is still looking for his first goal of the league campaign, something he’ll look to change here.

Oakland Roots SC vs. Miami FC

Venue: Pioneer Stadium
Kickoff: 10 p.m. ET
Broadcast: ESPN+ Predictor: OAK 44%, MIA 28%, Draw 28%

The Lowdown: Oakland Roots SC will try to rebound from a pair of league setbacks as it plays host to Miami FC, which earned its first league win of the season last weekend before a heartbreaking elimination from the Open Cup in midweek. Roots SC (2-3-1, 7pts) suffered a 2-0 loss to Loudoun United FC last Sunday in its most recent league outing to slip to seventh place in the Western Conference and was held scoreless again on Wednesday night as it was eliminated from the Open Cup by NorCal rival Sacramento Republic FC. Oakland has been solid at home overall so far this season, however, winning two of its three contests in all competitions as Dariusz Formella and Johnny Rodriguez have scored two goals apiece. Miami (1-2-4, 7pts) has yet to win away from home this season, meanwhile, but claimed its first league win of the campaign last Sunday evening in a breakout attacking performance. A pair of goals inside the opening 10 minutes by Christian Sorto and Paco Craig paved the way to a 4-1 win against Las Vegas Lights FC at Riccardo Silva Stadium, but the side was unable to repeat the feat on Wednesday night as it fell in a penalty shootout to Inter Miami CF despite holding the league in both regulation and extra time before conceding to the visitors in the Miami Clasico. This will mark the first USL Championship meeting between these sides, with the two having last met in official competition in 2019 when Miami claimed a 3-2 victory at Riccardo Silva Stadium.

Spotlight Players
Oakland Roots SC – Paul Blanchette:
The veteran goalkeeper leads the Championship with 27 saves this season and has been a standout for the side in keeping opponents off the scoreboard.

Miami FC – Paco Craig: The veteran center back has notched two goals and one assist so far this campaign in addition to recording 35 clearances and six interceptions defensively.

San Diego Loyal SC vs. El Paso Locomotive FC

Venue: Torero Stadium
Kickoff: 10 p.m. ET
Broadcast: ESPN+ Predictor: SD 54%, ELP 21%, Draw 25%

The Lowdown: San Diego Loyal SC will try to maintain a perfect home record in the league this season as it returns home to host El Paso Locomotive FC after an epic midweek contest in the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup. SD Loyal (4-1-2, 14pts) moved into second place in the Western Conference standings last Sunday evening after a 1-0 victory against the Tampa Bay Rowdies that saw Adrien Perez score his first goal for the club and goalkeeper Duran Ferree become the youngest player in Championship history to post a shutout. The win was San Diego’s fourth in as many league games this season, but the side is coming off a dramatic 5-4 defeat to Seattle Sounders FC on Wednesday night in the Open Cup at Starfire Stadium that could go down as one of the modern era’s all-time classics. A pair of goals by Joe Corona and a second half stoppage-time equalizer by Kyle Adams sent the game to extra time, where Jackson Simba scored the fourth for the visitors after Seattle had regained the lead, but a penalty kick in stoppage time of extra time by Fredy Montero sent the Sounders through. Locomotive FC (3-3-1, 10pts) arrives in San Diego, meanwhile, on a four-game undefeated streak after a 2-0 victory against Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC saw the side continue to emerge from its early-season struggles. Goals by Petar Petrovic and Luis Solignac – his fourth of the month – saw the hosts to victory at Southwest University Park, and now El Paso will try to reverse a 3-1 defeat when it last faced SD Loyal on home turf last season.

Spotlight Players
San Diego Loyal SC – Joe Corona:
The veteran midfielder scored a pair of goals in Seattle to open his account for his hometown club and is coming off a stellar display against the Rowdies in league action.

El Paso Locomotive FC – Denys Kostyshyn: The Ukrainian delivered a beautiful assist on Petrovic’s opening goal against Pittsburgh for his first helper of the season and has notched nine chances created so far this campaign.

Phoenix Rising FC vs. Loudoun United FC

Venue: Phoenix Rising Stadium
Kickoff: 10:30 p.m. ET
Broadcast: ESPN+ Predictor: PHX 67%, LDN 13%, Draw 20%

The Lowdown: Phoenix Rising FC will take on the upstart Loudoun United FC as the visitors arrive in Arizona for the first time looking to build on a four-game winning streak in all competitions after a midweek Open Cup victory. Rising FC (1-1-4, 7pts) earned a 1-1 draw on the road against San Antonio FC last Saturday in its most recent league outing as goalkeeper Rocco Rios Novo posted an eight-save performance to help the visitors emerge with a point. Phoenix will be without midfielder Carlos Harvey this time out, however, after he was sent off for two cautionable offenses in San Antonio, leaving an important gap to be filled in the lineup. The hosts were eliminated from the Open Cup on Wednesday night as a late goal by New Mexico United earned a 2-1 win and place in the Round of 32, and Rising FC will be hoping gain a little revenge after falling 4-3 on the road to United last season when the sides met for the first time. Loudoun (3-2-1, 10pts) has been on a run of impressive form of late, however, taking a 2-0 victory against Oakland Roots SC last Sunday evening at Segra Field before running away from Flower City Union 5-0 in the Open Cup to earn a home game with Columbus Crew SC in the Round of 32. Loudoun has scored 12 goals in its past four victories and will be hoping for further success this time out.

Spotlight Players
Phoenix Rising FC – Mohamed Traore:
The young defender has been solid in two starts this season, including putting together a big performance in San Antonio last time out, and could feature again here.

Loudoun United FC – Panos Armenakas: The Australian playmaker scored his first league goal for Loudoun in its victory against Oakland and has recorded 12 chances created and one assist so far this league campaign.

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