Las Vegas Lights FC will host its home opener on Friday night as it looks for a first league win of the season against the Charleston Battery. | Photo courtesy Breanna Biorato / Las Vegas Lights FC
The final official home opener of the 2023 season arrives on Friday night as Las Vegas Lights FC kicks off a busy weekend against the Charleston Battery, while elsewhere Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC and El Paso Locomotive FC will aim to maintain their current momentum and there will be some familiar faces awaiting Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC as it visits Monterey Bay F.C.
Here’s a look ahead at all the action.
Venue: H-E-B Park
Kickoff: 8 p.m. ET
538.com Predictor: RGV 36%, NM 34%, Draw 30%
The Lowdown: New Mexico United will try to build on its best performance of the league campaign so far as it visits a Rio Grande Valley FC side that is winless in its last three outings and looking to rebound up the Western Conference standings back on home turf. The Toros (1-2-4, 7pts) have drawn each of their past two contests, including a 0-0 draw at Monterey Bay F.C. this past Saturday that saw the side continue to struggle in front of goals. RGVFC has scored only four goals this season – and once in the past three games – with Taylor Davila providing one of the few bright spots in the attack third with two of those finishes. By contrast, New Mexico (2-3-1, 7pts) delivered its best attacking performance of the season in its last outing as Greg Hurst scored twice and Joshua Dolling notched three assists – a first in club history – to earn a 3-1 victory against Orange County SC at Isotopes Park. United will he hoping to reverse the result from its last visit to South Texas on Friday, however, when the Toros claimed a 3-1 victory to maintain their record of having never lost at home to New Mexico (3-0-1) in four prior contests at H-E-B Park.
Rio Grande Valley FC – Jonathan Ricketts: The right back earned a place on the Championship’s Team of the Week on Tuesday after a stellar all-around display and has recorded 11 interceptions and 24 clearances this campaign.
New Mexico United – Joshua Dolling: The English forward became the 25th player in the Championship’s regular season history to record three assists in a game last Saturday, and United fans will be keen to see what he can do to follow that.
Venue: Weidner Field
Kickoff: 9 p.m. ET
538.com Predictor: COS 52%, ELP 21%, Draw 26%
The Lowdown: Two of the top four current teams in the Championship’s Western Conference standings will meet as second-placed Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC hosts fourth-placed El Paso Locomotive FC with both coming off impressive road displays. The Switchbacks (5-2-1, 16pts) return home after becoming the first team to defeat the Charleston Battery this season as first-half goals by Maalique Foster and Steven Echevarria earned a 2-1 win at Patriots Point. Foster’s goal was his first in league play for the Switchbacks as the victory moved the side within two points of current leader Sacramento Republic FC. Friday could see a first appearance for Colorado Springs of Tyreek Magee, who became the latest Jamaica Men’s National Team player to join the club this week, as the hosts try to end a five-game undefeated streak for Locomotive FC (4-3-1, 13pts) that continued last Saturday with a 2-1 win against San Diego Loyal SC at Torero Stadium. The result saw El Paso become the first team to defeat SD Loyal on its home turf this season as Ricardo Zacarias and Denys Kostyshyn found the net, giving Locomotive FC its fourth win during its current undefeated run. The visitors will be aiming to reverse a 2-1 defeat that saw Duke Lacroix score a stoppage-time winner for the Switchbacks on March 15 early this season as the sides meet for the second time, but Locomotive FC will be buoyed in the knowledge it has never suffered defeat on the road in Colorado Springs in six prior visits.
Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC – Duke Lacroix: The veteran defender notched the game-winner when these sides played in March and was impressive in the club’s victory at the Battery with an assist and solid defensive display.
El Paso Locomotive FC – Eric Calvillo: The El Salvador international has notched a pair of assists this season and will be looking to help contain La Selecta teammate Jairo Henriquez in a key central midfield battle.
Venue: Cardinale Stadium
Kickoff: 10 p.m. ET
538.com Predictor: MB 37%, PIT 33%, Draw 30%
The Lowdown: Monterey Bay F.C. will try to continue a four-game league undefeated streak as it squares off with Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC, with some familiar faces set to welcome the visitors to Cardinale Stadium in the first meeting between the clubs in their histories. Monterey Bay (3-2-3, 12pts) played to a 0-0 draw with Rio Grande Valley FC last Saturday night as Antony Siaha notched the club’s first league shutout of the season and second in a row in all competitions after its 1-0 win against the San Jose Earthquakes in the Third Round of the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup last week. The contest will see current MBFC defender Hugh Roberts and forward Alex Dixon face one of their former clubs, with Dixon having made the move to Monterey Bay this offseason after notching 13 goals and 16 assists for Pittsburgh in 66 appearances across the regular season and playoffs over the past two seasons. The Hounds (2-2-4, 10pts) played to a 1-1 draw against Indy Eleven in their last outing as Albert Dikwa scored his fifth goal of the campaign, and the side could be boosted by the return of midfielder Danny Griffin, who was acquired by the club via transfer from Huntsville City FC of MLS NEXT Pro on Wednesday. Pittsburgh has lost each of its past two trips to face Western Conference opponents, however, and will be looking to reverse that trend here.
Monterey Bay F.C. – Alex Dixon: The veteran forward has bagged six goals to lead the Championship so far this campaign and will look to add to that total against his former club on Friday night.
Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC – Joe Farrell: The center back has start each of the past three outings for the Hounds and will need to put in a strong performance as he likely squares off with former teammate and current MBFC center forward Christian Volesky.
Venue: Cashman Field
Kickoff: 10:30 p.m. ET
538.com Predictor: LV 39%, CHS 33%, Draw 28%
The Lowdown: Las Vegas Lights FC will play its official home opener at Cashman Field on Saturday night after six games on the road to start the season as the Charleston Battery head west looking to rebound from their first loss of the season. Lights FC (0-1-5, 5pts) has proven difficult to beat during its season-opening road trip, and emerged with a 1-1 draw against defending Championship title holder San Antonio FC last Saturday at Toyota Field as Justin Ingram scored for the side. The standout display, however, came from goalkeeper Leo Diaz, who saved his second penalty kick in as many faced this season and earned Championship Team of the Week honors after a three-save display. The hosts have played once previously at Cashman Field this season, a 3-1 loss after extra time to Real Salt Lake in the Third Round of the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup on April 26, but will be hoping to emulate their last meeting with Charleston a season ago when Lights FC took a 2-1 victory at Patriots Point. The Battery (4-1-3, 15pts) have the chance to regain first place in the Eastern Conference on Friday night, however, as they look to rebound from a 2-1 setback to Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC in their last outing. The visitors are set to have Augustine Williams return to the starting lineup after serving a one-game suspension, with the side having scored 13 goals so far this season as both Fidel Barajas and Derek Dodson have notched three assists apiece.
Las Vegas Lights FC – Erick “Cubo” Torres: The former Mexico international has bagged two goals so far this season in all competitions and will be aiming for a big outing to help his side earn a first league win of the campaign.
Charleston Battery – Augustine Williams: The Sierra Leone international scored against Las Vegas last season, leads Charleston with four league goals this campaign, and will be aiming to get back on track after a challenging night against Louisville City FC two weeks ago.