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Gameday Previews – Saturday, May 20

By Staff, 05/19/23, 2:20PM EDT


10-game slate features major rivalries out west and seven interconference contests throughout the night

Sacramento Republic FC will aim to defend its undefeated home record against Oakland Roots SC when the rivals square off at Heart Health Park on Saturday night. | Photo courtesy Irina Filenko / Sacramento Republic FC

Two notables Western Conference rivalries are set to renew on Saturday night as part of a 10-game slate of games that also feature plenty of interconference contests as Week 11 of the 2023 USL Championship season draws to a close.

Here's a look ahead at all the action.

Charleston Battery vs. Monterey Bay F.C.

Venue: Patriots Point
Kickoff: 5 p.m. ET
Broadcast: ESPN+ Predictor: CHS 47%, MB 26%, Draw 27%

The Lowdown: The Charleston Battery and Monterey Bay F.C. will both be aiming to rebound from setbacks last time out as they meet for the first time in their respective histories. Charleston (5-2-3, 18pts) suffered its heaviest defeat in the Championship last Saturday night as it fell 7-0 to San Antonio FC for its second loss in the past three games. One positive for the Battery as it enters the contest will be that it rebounded well after its first defeat of the campaign, earning victory on the road at Las Vegas Lights FC, and the side remains in first place in the Eastern Conference with a chance to add to its lead with second-placed Louisville City FC not in action this weekend. Monterey Bay (3-3-4, 13pts) also fell as a late goal by Adrian Rebollar wasn’t enough to salvage a result in a 2-1 loss at New Mexico United. The visitors are now winless in their last three outings but have fared well against Eastern Conference opposition this season with a 2-1-1 record so far. Sitting just above the playoff line in the West, the visitors will be hoping to get back on a winning track as they head to Patriots Point for the first time.

Spotlight Players
Charleston Battery – Fidel Barajas:
The talented young winger has gone six games without either a goal or assist, and while he’s continued to look bright, getting back on the scoresheet would be a positive boost for the hosts.

Monterey Bay F.C. – Kai Greene: The veteran center back has been solid all season but is going to have to try and hold together a back line missing some key pieces including Alex Lara and Hugh Roberts against a good Battery attack.

Hartford Athletic vs. Loudoun United FC

Venue: Trinity Health Stadium
Kickoff: 7 p.m. ET
Broadcast: ESPN+ Predictor: HFD 50%, LDN 25%, Draw 25%

The Lowdown: Hartford Athletic and Loudoun United FC are both in need of a win as they square off for the first time this season with Hartford looking for its first win on home turf. The Athletic (1-6-2, 5pts) have lost their last three league outings after a 3-1 defeat to Phoenix Rising FC last Saturday that saw Kyle Edwards scored a penalty kick to level the game late in the first half only for Rising FC to score twice in the final 20 minutes to pull away for victory. Hartford’s defense has been at the center of its struggles this season, conceding 20 goals in nine games, and that’s something Loudoun will be hoping to take advantage of as it arrives after a midweek setback. Loudoun (3-6-1, 10pts) suffered a fourth consecutive league outing on Wednesday night as it fell 3-1 to New Mexico United at Segra Field, and is in need of a win to avoid dropping below the playoff line in the Eastern Conference standings.

Spotlight Players
Hartford Athletic – Antoine Hoppenot:
The veteran winger has notched only one assist and 10 chances created in nine appearances for Hartford since his offseason move from Detroit City, and needs to start clicking into gear.

Loudoun United FC – Tommy Williamson: The center forward notched a single-season high eight shots on Wednesday night as part of a strong individual display and more of the same will be needed here.

Indy Eleven vs. Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC

Venue: Michael A. Carroll Stadium
Kickoff: 7 p.m. ET
Broadcast: ESPN+ Predictor: IND 31%, COS 41%, Draw 28%

The Lowdown: Indy Eleven will try to claim its first home league win of the season on Saturday night as it hosts a Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC side also looking to rebound from defeat in its last outing. Indy (2-4-3, 9pts) fell 3-1 to Sacramento Republic FC last Saturday at Heart Health Park as a pair of early goals by the hosts set it on the way to victory. The result kept the Boys in Blue below the playoff line in the Eastern Conference as they return home, where they have recorded two draws and two defeats so far in league play this season after a 1-1 draw against Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC on April 29 in their most recent home outing. The Switchbacks (5-4-1, 16pts) are also coming off a setback after falling 2-1 to Memphis 901 FC last Saturday for their second consecutive loss despite Romario Williams bagging his fourth goal of the campaign. That loss was Colorado Springs’ first to a club in the Eastern Conference this season, however, with the side currently 3-1-1 in interconference games. The Switchbacks will look to build on that record as they try to emulate last year’s 4-3 victory when the sides met at Weidner Field in a wild back-and-forth contest.

Spotlight Players
Indy Eleven – Cam Lindley:
The central midfielder will square off against his former club for the first time since an offseason transfer brought the Indiana native home, with Lindley having notched a team-high 14 chances created for Indy this season.

Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC – Drew Skundrich: The central midfielder has played every minute of the season so far, notching one goal and one assist, and could be a key player in the center of midfield to try and help the visitors earn a result.

Miami FC vs. San Diego Loyal SC

Venue: Riccardo Silva Stadium
Kickoff: 7 p.m. ET
Broadcast: ESPN+ Predictor: MIA 39%, SD 34%, Draw 28%

The Lowdown: Miami FC and San Diego Loyal SC will square off for the first time as they both try to return to winning ways in South Florida. Miami (2-3-5, 11pts) saw a four-game undefeated streak come to an end last Saturday night as it fell 3-1 on the road at Louisville City FC despite a first-half goal by Kyle Murphy. Head Coach Anthony Pulis’ side has won each of its past two games on home turf, however, and has lost only once in six games at Riccardo Silva Stadium as it looks to gain on the leaders in the Eastern Conference. SD Loyal (5-3-2, 17pts) also fell in its last outing, suffering a 3-2 defeat to Rio Grande Valley FC for just its second loss at Torero Stadium this season. Gabriel Perez and Joe Corona scored for the side against the Toros, with Corona converting his second penalty kick in as many games. San Diego remains only four points back of Sacramento Republic FC at the top of the Western Conference standings, meanwhile, and has won all three of its prior meetings with Eastern Conference opposition this season, defeating the Tampa Bay Rowdies on April 23 to follow wins against Detroit City FC and FC Tulsa on home turf.

Spotlight Players
Miami FC – Aedan Stanley:
The left-sided defender has put together a solid season so far as an ever-present in the starting lineup with 14 interceptions and will need to be good against a strong San Diego attack.

San Diego Loyal SC – Collin Martin: The central midfielder is set to make his 100th regular season appearance in the Championship on Saturday and will provide balance for a side looking for a positive road performance.

Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC vs. Las Vegas Lights FC

Venue: Highmark Stadium
Kickoff: 7 p.m. ET
Broadcast: ESPN+ Predictor: PIT 56%, LV 17%, Draw 27%

The Lowdown: Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC will try to add to their recent undefeated streak as they play host to Las Vegas Lights FC, which is looking for its first win of the regular season after earning a point last time out. The Hounds (3-2-5, 14pts) moved up to fifth place in the Eastern Conference last Saturday night as Albert Dikwa scored both goals in a 2-1 victory against Birmingham Legion FC. Dikwa now leads the Championship with nine goals this season and is only two back of his individual single-season best from a season ago with the Hounds. The contest will be the last before Pittsburgh plays host to Major League Soccer’s Columbus Crew SC in the Round of 16 of the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup next Wednesday night. The hosts will be looking to turn the tables on Lights FC (0-3-6, 6pts) this time around after Las Vegas claimed a 1-0 win when the teams met last year at Cashman Field. This year’s Lights FC team has a different look to that one, but despite a winless start through nine games the side has shown positive signs, including in a 1-1 draw against FC Tulsa last Saturday night that saw Pato Botello Faz find the net from the penalty spot.  

Spotlight Players
Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC – Danny Griffin:
The central midfielder has made a notable impact since his return to the club via transfer from Huntsville City FC and will be looking for more of the same as the Hounds aim for a second consecutive win.

Las Vegas Lights FC – Tabort Etaka Preston: The Cameroonian winger has started each of the past two games and been lively on the right side, and could need close attention from the Hounds’ defense.

Birmingham Legion FC vs. El Paso Locomotive FC

Venue: Protective Stadium
Kickoff: 7:30 p.m. ET
Broadcast: ESPN+ Predictor: BHM 45%, ELP 29%, Draw 26%

The Lowdown: El Paso Locomotive FC will bring its five-game winning streak to Protective Stadium as it plays a Birmingham Legion FC side hoping for a boost in confidence ahead of next week’s Round of 16 in the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup after three consecutive league defeats. Legion FC (5-5-1, 16pts) suffered a 2-1 defeat at Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC last Saturday at Highmark Stadium to drop to third place in the Eastern Conference as Matthew Corcoran’s first goal in the professional ranks wasn’t enough to secure a result on the road. This contest will mark the first meeting between Birmingham and El Paso, but the hosts have lost two out of three games previously this campaign against Western Conference opposition. Locomotive FC (6-3-1, 19pts) is surging, on the other hand, having taken a 1-0 win last Saturday night at home to Loudoun United FC behind El Paso native Chris Garcia’s first goal for the club. El Paso has moved into second place in the Western Conference in its recent run of form, and is 3-1-1 against Eastern Conference opposition this season, including a road win at Louisville City FC and at home to Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC.

Spotlight Players
Birmingham Legion FC – Tyler Pasher:
The Canadian winger made his first league start since returning from injury against Birmingham last weekend and has notched two goals and two assists so far this season for his new club in the Championship.

El Paso Locomotive FC – Luis Solignac: The Argentine forward leads Locomotive FC with five goals this season and will be looking to return to the scoresheet this time out after seeing a run of five consecutive games with a goal or assist snapped last time out.

Detroit City FC vs. San Antonio FC

Venue: Keyworth Stadium
Kickoff: 7:30 p.m. ET
Broadcast: ESPN+ Predictor: DET 23%, SA 48%, Draw 29%

The Lowdown: San Antonio FC will try to maintain its momentum from a club-record victory last time out as it visits Detroit City FC, which is coming off its heaviest defeat since arriving in the Championship prior to last season. Le Rouge (1-7-2, 5pts) suffered a 5-1 defeat to the Tampa Bay Rowdies at Al Lang Stadium as a highlight-reel goal by Abdoulaye Diop was the lone positive for the visitors as their winless streak reached eight games in league play. Diop has scored in consecutive games for Detroit, which puts him in the club lead for goals this season as the side has scored only five goals in 10 games. By contrast, San Antonio (5-1-4, 19pts) rolled to a 7-0 victory at the Charleston Battery last Saturday night in the highest-scoring performance in club history. Recent arrival Tani Oluwaseyi led the way, becoming only the second player in the Championship’s regular season history to record three goals and two assists in a single game, as SAFC took its second consecutive victory to move up to third place in the Western Conference. San Antonio took a 1-0 win when these teams met at Toyota Field last season in DCFC’s inaugural game in the Championship when Fabien Garcia found the net for the hosts, a result Le Rouge will be hoping to reverse as they try to turn their season around against the defending title holder.

Spotlight Players
Detroit City FC – Skage Simonsen:
The Norwegian has yet to find the net this season and has one assist in 10 games but did notch an assist a season ago against San Antonio when playing for Loudoun United FC.

San Antonio FC – Tani Oluwaseyi: After a five-star performance in his first start for the club, everyone should be watching to see what Oluwasyi does this time around as SAFC aims to build momentum.

Rio Grande Valley FC vs. Tampa Bay Rowdies

Venue: H-E-B Park
Kickoff: 8:30 p.m. ET
Broadcast: ESPN+ Predictor: RGV 34%, TBR 38%, Draw 28%

The Lowdown: Rio Grande Valley FC and the Tampa Bay Rowdies will both look to build on recent successes as they square off for the first time. The Toros (2-2-5, 11pts) produced maybe their best performance of the season so far in a 3-2 victory against San Diego Loyal SC last time out, becoming only the second team to defeat SD Loyal on its home turf this season. Ricky Ruiz notched a goal and assist in the victory, while Haiti international Christiano Francois scored for a second consecutive outing for the side as it ended a four-game winless streak. The Rowdies (4-4-2, 14pts) moved into the top four in the Eastern Conference after a 5-1 win against Detroit City FC last Saturday, meanwhile, with the victory a third in a row for the side. JJ Williams scored the first hat trick of his career in the Championship, while Charlie Dennis also found the net for a third consecutive game as Tampa Bay clicked into gear in the attacking third. The win also marked the 80th for Rowdies Head Coach Neill Collins in the Championship’s regular season, with the Scottish manager having celebrated five years at the helm on May 18 as the second-longest tenured Head Coach in the league currently.

Spotlight Players
Rio Grande Valley FC – Robert Coronado:
The central midfielder found the net for the first time this season in San Diego, but his defensive work against the Rowdies’ midfield contingent will be key for the hosts on Saturday.

Tampa Bay Rowdies – Ryan Spaulding: The New England Revolution loanee has quickly fit into the Rowdies’ lineup, recording assists on goals by JJ Williams in consecutive victories for the side. 

Orange County SC vs. Phoenix Rising FC

Venue: Championship Soccer Stadium
Kickoff: 10 p.m. ET
Broadcast: ESPN+ Predictor: OC 40%, PHX 33%, Draw 27%

The Lowdown: Orange County SC and Phoenix Rising FC will square off for the 30th time across the Championship’s regular season and playoffs with the hosts hoping to build on a big midweek victory against a Rising FC side aiming for its first consecutive league wins this season. Orange County (2-6-3, 9pts) took a 1-0 victory against Sacramento Republic FC on Wednesday night at Championship Soccer Stadium, handing Republic FC its first league loss of the season. Milan Iloski’s goal in the fifth minute proved the difference, with the 2022 Championship Golden Boot winner putting home his fourth goal of the campaign. Phoenix (3-2-4, 13pts) also earned victory last time out as it defeated Hartford Athletic 3-1 behind goals from Carlos Harvey and Manuel Arteaga in the final 20 minutes at Phoenix Rising Stadium. Arteaga and Danny Trejo each had a goal and assist in the result, with each now sitting on four league goals this season, and they’ll be hoping to lead the visitors to another positive result as they head on the road. Rising FC has alternated wins and losses in its last four games, and will be aiming to jump above the playoff line with a win here after falling 2-1 to Orange County when Iloski found the net twice for the hosts when the sides met last August.

Spotlight Players
Orange County SC – Marc McNulty:
The Scottish forward had a solid 45 minutes in his second start of the season on Wednesday, providing an assist on Iloski’s goal, and could look for his first goal for his new club here.

Phoenix Rising FC – Danny Trejo: The skillful forward has been sharp early this season, scoring four goals on five shots on target, and will need to get close attention from Orange County’s back line as it looks for a second consecutive shutout.

Sacramento Republic FC vs. Oakland Roots SC

Venue: Heart Health Park
Kickoff: 10 p.m. ET
Broadcast: ESPN+ Predictor: SAC 53%, OAK 21%, Draw 27%

The Lowdown: Sacramento Republic FC will try to rebound from its first league loss of the season as it hosts rival Oakland Roots SC, which arrives at Heart Health Park with positive momentum as the teams square off for the second time this season. Republic FC (6-1-3, 21pts) suffered a 1-0 defeat on Wednesday night at Orange County SC as the side was unable to find a breakthrough after Milan Iloski put OCSC ahead inside the opening five minutes. Sacramento claimed a 1-0 victory earlier this season when these sides first met in the Third Round of the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup, however, as Nick Ross scored the only goal early in the second half, and the side will be hoping for a repeat result as it looks to maintain its position at the top of the Western Conference standings. Roots SC (4-3-2, 14pts) took a 3-0 victory against Orange County in its most recent outing, meanwhile, to move its undefeated streak to three games and move the side into sixth place in the Western Conference. Oakland has recorded seven goals across two victories in the past two weekends with Dariusz Formella finding the net twice and will now look for its first win at Heart Health Park in what has been a tightly-fought series over the past three seasons. In seven league games, five have ended all square, with each team taking one win on home turf.

Spotlight Players
Sacramento Republic FC – Keko:
The Spanish winger made a late cameo against Orange County and should return to the starting lineup here to link up on the right side with Jack Gurr to provide the hosts attacking drive.

Oakland Roots SC – Dariusz Formella: The former Republic FC forward leads Roots SC with four goals this season, equaling his total from a season ago, and will be aiming to maintain a good recent run of form as he returns to Heart Health Park.

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