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Gameday Previews – Saturday, June 3

By Staff, 06/02/23, 11:15AM EDT


Derby del Camino Real returns in New Mexico, while Rowdies host Republic FC in potential Championship Final preview

New Mexico United will play host to El Paso Locomotive FC for the first Derby del Camino Real this season on Saturday night. | Photo courtesy Josh Lane / New Mexico United

One of the best current rivalries in the USL Championship – the Derby del Camino Real between New Mexico United and El Paso Locomotive FC – highlights an eight-game slate of action on Saturday night across the league that also sees current Western Conference leader Sacramento Republic FC visit a red-hot Tampa Bay Rowdies in a potential preview of this year’s USL Championship Final.

Here's a look ahead at all the action.

Hartford Athletic vs. Louisville City FC

Venue: Trinity Health Stadium
Kickoff: 7 p.m. ET
Broadcast: ESPN+ Predictor: HFD 27%, LOU 48%, Draw 25%

The Lowdown: Louisville City FC will look to build on a solid road victory last time out as it heads to face Hartford Athletic, which finds itself at the bottom of the Eastern Conference standings but only four points out of a playoff place in the Eastern Conference. Hartford (2-7-2, 8pts) suffered a 4-1 defeat to Western Conference leader Sacramento Republic FC last Friday night as the side conceded the most goals it had in a game since the opening weekend of the season. Kyle Edwards scored from the penalty spot for the Athletic for his third goal of the campaign, but the hosts will be looking to end LouCity’s hex over them with Hartford having suffered defeat in all five prior meetings. Louisville (6-3-2, 20pts) remained in the hunt for first place in the East after a first-half goal by Wilson Harris lifted the side to a 1-0 win against rival Indy Eleven in the first LIPAFC clash of the campaign at Michael A. Carroll Stadium last Saturday night. Harris’ goal was his third goal of the campaign, currently the team high, as Louisville has yet to consistently break into an attacking rhythm this year. The side has been solid defensively with its five shutouts tied for second in the league, with goalkeeper Oliver Semmle putting together a solid first campaign with only four goals conceded in eight games and a save percentage of 78.9 percent.

Spotlight Players
Hartford Athletic – Antoine Hoppenot:
The veteran winger will face one of his former clubs having yet to find the net this season while recording one assist and 12 chances created in the attacking third.

Louisville City FC – Ray Serrano: The young winger has notched two assists in four games so far this season, notching his second last week against Indy as he produced a solid display in a return to the starting lineup.

Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC vs. Phoenix Rising FC

Venue: Highmark Stadium
Kickoff: 7 p.m. ET
Broadcast: ESPN+ Predictor: PIT 41%, PHX 30%, Draw 29%

The Lowdown: Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC will try to continue its recent winning run as it squares off with Phoenix Rising FC for the first time since the 2014 regular season. The Hounds (5-2-5, 20pts) claimed a 1-0 victory last Sunday evening as Arturo Ordonez bagged the winner 12 minutes from full time against Loudoun United FC at Segra Field, giving the side a third consecutive league win and extending its undefeated streak to seven games in all competitions. Pittsburgh is undefeated at Highmark Stadium this season with three wins and a draw in the league, and the side will be hoping to maintain its momentum ahead of next Tuesday night’s clash in the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup when it visits FC Cincinnati, which offers a chance at a first trip to the Semifinals of the tournament in club history. Rising FC (4-3-4, 16pts) is looking to rebound after falling 1-0 to Las Vegas Lights FC as the hosts were unable to make their pressure tell at Phoenix Rising Stadium at Washington & 38th St last Friday night. Rising FC had 16 shots and hit the crossbar once but was unable to find a breakthrough to suffer its first home loss of the season. Phoenix took victory in both prior contests against the Hounds nine years ago in its debut campaign, however, as Long Tan scored both goals in a 2-1 victory on the club’s last trip to Highmark Stadium, a result it would be very happy to replicate this time around.  

Spotlight Players
Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC – Joe Farrell:
The veteran center back joined Pittsburgh this offseason having previously spent five seasons with Rising FC and has made 19 clearances and blocked three shots in 10 league appearances this season.

Phoenix Rising FC – Carlos Harvey: Named to Panama’s preliminary roster for the Concacaf Gold Cup on Thursday, the midfielder will want to put in a strong display against a good Pittsburgh unit on the road.

Tampa Bay Rowdies vs. Sacramento Republic FC

Venue: Al Lang Stadium
Kickoff: 7:30 p.m. ET
Broadcast: ESPN+ Predictor: TBR 46%, SAC 27%, Draw 27%

The Lowdown: The Tampa Bay Rowdies and Sacramento Republic FC will square off for the first time in their histories as the hosts look to continue a five-game winning streak as they welcome the current Western Conference leaders to Al Lang Stadium. The Rowdies (6-4-2, 20pts) continued their surge up the Eastern Conference last Saturday with a 2-1 win against Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC that saw JJ Williams bag his fifth goal in May and Ryan Spaulding notch an assist in a fourth consecutive game to move into a tie for the league-lead. Tampa Bay has outscored its opponents 13-2 over its current winning run with Charlie Dennis also contributing four goals in that span, and that attacking prowess could test a Republic FC side that currently leads the league in shutouts (6) and fewest goals conceded (6). Sacramento (8-1-3, 27pts) continued to lead the race for the Players’ Shield after a 4-1 victory against Hartford Athletic last Friday night that saw Russell Cicerone score his ninth goal of the season to move into a tie for the lead in the race for the Golden Boot and Sebastian Herrera notch a goal and assist. Republic FC has gone 4-0-2 so far this season against Eastern Conference opposition overall, and will be aiming to put down another marker toward their title credentials after defeating Louisville City FC at home earlier this campaign.

Spotlight Players
Tampa Bay Rowdies – Aaron Guillen:
The two-time Championship All-League selection has continued to be strong this season and his prospective battle with Jack Gurr on the flank could be a key to which side emerges with victory.

Sacramento Republic FC – Conor Donovan: The central defender has recorded 49 clearances to lead the team this season and will need to try and contain JJ Williams as he receives potential service from Spaulding and others in wide areas.

Memphis 901 FC vs. Miami FC

Venue: AutoZone Park
Kickoff: 8:30 p.m. ET
Broadcast: ESPN+ Predictor: MEM 50%, MIA 24%, Draw 27%

The Lowdown: Memphis 901 FC will look to build on a successful May, and could hand a debut to its major new arrival, as it plays host to a Miami FC side looking to find form as it heads to AutoZone Park. 901 FC (4-2-3, 15pts) won all three of its contests in the past month to stretch its undefeated streak to seven games after a 2-1 victory against FC Tulsa on May 19 in its most recent outing. Nighte Pickering recorded a goal and assist against Tulsa while Aaron Molloy also found the net, with Head Coach Stephen Glass’ side now sitting in sixth place in the Eastern Conference while having played the fewest games in the league this season. The hosts could see Rodrigo da Costa make his debut on Saturday after his transfer from FC Tulsa in the days that followed their last outing, with Phillip Goodrum going the other way in a pair of transactions, and Memphis will be hoping to end a four-game winless run against Miami, which has gone 3-0-1 in the past four meetings between the sides after the teams played to a 1-1 draw earlier this season. Miami (2-4-6, 12pts) is looking to end a three-game winless run after playing to a scoreless draw against Orange County SC last Saturday night at Riccardo Silva Stadium, a result that kept the side below the playoff line in the Eastern Conference as it looks to boost its campaign.

Spotlight Players
Memphis 901 FC – Aaron Molloy:
The Irish midfielder put in a stellar display when these sides met earlier this season in Miami and has found his All-League form with a goal and assist and 33 chances created so far this season.

Miami FC – Kyle Murphy: The former Memphis forward has scored three goals for Miami this season will be hoping to replicate his last visit in his current club’s colors to AutoZone Park when he found the net in a 2-1 victory a season ago.

New Mexico United vs. El Paso Locomotive FC

Venue: Isotopes Park
Kickoff: 9 p.m. ET
Broadcast: ESPN+ Predictor: NM 48%, ELP 26%, Draw 26%

The Lowdown: New Mexico United and El Paso Locomotive FC meet in the first Derby del Camino Real of the season with the hosts aiming to bounce back from their last outing against a Locomotive FC side that has won six consecutive league outings to sit in second place in the Western Conference. New Mexico (4-4-2, 14pts) fell 2-1 to San Antonio FC last Saturday night as a second-half goal by Kyle Colonna wasn’t enough for the visitors to rally at Toyota Field. The loss ended a two-game winning streak for the side, which sits even with eighth-placed Monterey Bay F.C. in the Western Conference standings but has played the fewest games of any team in the West so far this season. United will be aiming to regain the upper hand over Locomotive FC after El Paso claimed victory at Isotopes Park last season, leveling the all-time record in a series that has been hard-fought from its inception. Both teams have claimed three victories alongside seven draws in their regular season and playoff meetings. El Paso (7-3-1, 22pts) is on a roll as it arrives, however, having earned a 2-1 victory on the road against Birmingham Legion FC in its last outing as Luis Solignac scored his 40th goal in the Championship’s regular season in just his 83rd regular season appearance. Locomotive FC’s six-game winning streak is its longest in club history, and a win here would move it alongside the fifth-longest in league history while also keeping the pressure on Sacramento Republic FC in first place in the standings.

Spotlight Players
New Mexico United – Amando Moreno:
Named in El Salvador’s preliminary roster for the 2023 Concacaf Gold Cup on Thursday, the creative midfielder has two goals and one assist this season and will want to provide an attacking spark.

El Paso Locomotive FC – Luis Solignac: The Argentine leads El Paso with six goals this season and has scored twice in five prior games against New Mexico in the series.

San Antonio FC vs. San Diego Loyal SC

Venue: Toyota Field
Kickoff: 9 p.m. ET
Broadcast: ESPN+ Predictor: SA 53%, SD 21%, Draw 26%

The Lowdown: San Antonio FC will look to continue its lengthy regular season undefeated streak at Toyota Field on Saturday night as it hosts San Diego Loyal SC, which sits only two points behind SAFC in the Western Conference standings as it aims to rebound from a setback last time out. San Antonio (6-2-4, 22pts) earned a 2-1 win against New Mexico United last Saturday to extend its home regular season undefeated streak to 21 games dating back to last season as Rida Zouhir scored his first goal for the club and Fabien Garcia provided what proved to be the winner late in the first half. Zouhir became the fourth-youngest player to score for SAFC in the USL Championship with his goal, with the Club de Foot Montreal loanee having now notched a goal and assist for the side in three appearances since his arrival. SD Loyal (6-4-2, 20pts) suffered a 2-0 defeat to fellow California club Oakland Roots SC last Saturday night to continue a sequence of alternating wins and losses in its past five games. The visitors remain in fourth place in the Western Conference, however, and will hope to challenge SAFC after splitting the regular season series between the sides last year. The game could see former San Antonio forward Elliot Collier make his return to Toyota Field, with the New Zealand striker having bagged his first goal for San Diego recently in a 3-2 victory at Miami FC while also notching two assists this season.

Spotlight Players
San Antonio FC – Shannon Gomez:
The Trinidad and Tobago international has become a fixture on the right side for SAFC and will look for another strong display in the build-up to potentially being selected for the Gold Cup later this month.

San Diego Loyal SC – Alejandro Guido: The central midfielder will look to put last year’s game behind him – in which he had a penalty kick saved – and deliver a big display to help the visitors earn a result on the road.

Monterey Bay F.C. vs. Loudoun United FC

Venue: Cardinale Stadium
Kickoff: 10 p.m. ET
Broadcast: ESPN+ Predictor: MB 53%, LDN 20%, 27%

The Lowdown: Monterey Bay F.C. will aim to continue its attacking momentum from Wednesday night while hoping to find a breakthrough as it plays host to Loudoun United FC, which heads west looking to break a lengthy winless run. Monterey Bay (3-4-5, 14pts) edged back into the playoff positions on Wednesday night but was held to a 0-0 draw by FC Tulsa at Cardinale Stadium after a game that saw the hosts hold an 18-4 advantage in shots and hit the crossbar late through Simon Dawkins in a strong overall display. MBFC is now looking for a first win since its Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup victory against the San Jose Earthquakes on April 25, but Wednesday night saw the return to the lineup of Sam Gleadle and a much more lively attacking display with Christian Volesky and Alex Dixon also threatening. Loudoun (3-8-1, 10pts) is on a six-game losing streak as it arrives on Monterey Bay after falling 1-0 to Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC last Sunday evening, a run of form that has dropped the side to 11th place in the Eastern Conference. After three wins in its first six games, United is looking to rebound as it tries to turn the tables on its hosts after Monterey Bay claimed a 1-0 victory when the teams met last season on a stoppage-time winner by Seku Conneh.

Spotlight Players
Monterey Bay F.C. – John Murphy:
The central midfielder had a strong outing against Tulsa on Wednesday night, notching four chances created, and will be aiming for more of the same here.

Loudoun United FC – Kalil ElMedkhar: The 23-year-old forward has notched two goals and two assists this season and will be looking to get his name on the scoresheet in the league for the first time since May 6 in this contest.

Orange County SC vs. Rio Grande Valley FC

Venue: Championship Soccer Stadium
Kickoff: 10 p.m. ET
Broadcast: ESPN+ Predictor: OC 57%, RGV 17%, Draw 26%

The Lowdown: Orange County SC and Rio Grande Valley FC will both try to boost their playoff chances as they square off for the first time this season. Orange County (2-7-4, 10pts) played to a scoreless draw last Saturday night against Miami FC in its most recent outing as it was unable to find a breakthrough despite some good opportunities on the road at Riccardo Silva Stadium. The club is now 1-3-1 under interim Head Coach Morten Karlsen as the side looks for more attacking consistency, with OCSC sitting 21st in the league with 10 goals this season. The Toros (2-4-5, 11pts) are in the same position with one goal fewer after falling 2-0 to the Charleston Battery last Saturday night in another frustrating evening for its attack. RGVFC has taken 17 shots on target in the past two games but has been held scoreless in both, and now is in need of reversing the most recent meeting between the sides when Orange County took a 2-1 win at H-E-B Park last season.

Spotlight Players
Orange County SC – Milan Iloski:
The 2022 Golden Boot winner leads the side with four goals this season but has missed a league-high 11 Big Chances per Opta, with teammate Korede Osundina not far behind with five Big Chances missed.

Rio Grande Valley FC – Ricky Ruiz: The crafty winger found the net when these teams last met and has a creative spark for the Toros in the attacking third with 15 chances created, third-most on the team.

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