Sacramento Republic FC midfielder Luis Felipe Fernandes scored the game-winning goal when the current Western Conference leaders faced San Diego Loyal SC in March. | Photo courtesy Irina Filenko / Sacramento Republic FC
Two of the top four teams in the USL Championship’s Western Conference will square off as current leader Sacramento Republic FC visits San Diego Loyal SC as part of a Friday night doubleheader to kick off the weekend’s action in Week 14.
Here's a look ahead at all the action.
Venue: Segra Field
Kickoff: 7 p.m. ET
538.com Predictor: LDN 37%, TUL 36%, Draw 27%
The Lowdown: Loudoun United FC will try to claim its first league win in more than a month when it plays host to FC Tulsa with the visitors aiming to solidify their place above the playoff line in the Eastern Conference after consecutive positive results. Loudoun (3-9-1, 10pts) suffered a seventh consecutive defeat in the Championship last Saturday night as it fell 4-1 on the road against Monterey Bay F.C. despite Kalil ElMedkhar’s first-half goal putting the side on even terms at the halftime break. United is looking to claim its first win since April 23 against Oakland Roots SC as it returns home, but with a win the side would move level on points with its visitors to tighten the playoff race in the lower half of the standings. Tulsa (2-4-7, 13pts) also visited Monterey Bay in its most recent outing on May 31 and came away with a 0-0 draw thanks in part to a five-save shutout by goalkeeper Michael Nelson, his second clean sheet of the season. Head Coach Blair Gavin’s side continued to reconfigure its roster this week and could see new acquisition Tommy McCabe make his debut after being acquired from Detroit City FC early in the week as it looks for a repeat of the 3-0 victory it recorded early this season at ONEOK Field. Tulsa is undefeated in its last three outings against Loudoun overall, having won twice in that span, as it looks for another positive performance.
Loudoun United FC – Jeremy Garay: The young midfielder hasn’t yet had the same impact has he delivered for Loudoun a season ago, recording only four chances created in 13 appearances, and will be looking for a bright display here.
FC Tulsa – Marcus Epps: The exciting winger found the net when Tulsa claimed victory on home turf this season and currently leads the team with three goals this season as well as two assists and 11 chances created.
Venue: Torero Stadium
Kickoff: 10 p.m. ET
538.com Predictor: SD 44%, SA 29%, Draw 27%
The Lowdown: Sacramento Republic FC will try to extend a three-game undefeated streak as it heads to face San Diego Loyal SC, with the hosts returning home after a dramatic comeback in their most recent outing but set to be shorthanded this time out. SD Loyal (6-4-3, 21pts) rallied from a three-goal halftime deficit to claim a 3-3 draw against San Antonio FC last Saturday at Toyota Field as Ronaldo Damus scored twice after being brought on as a halftime substitute, including the game-tying goal in stoppage time. The result kept San Diego in fourth place in the Western Conference, but the side will be without Nick Moon, who received a red card for two cautionable offenses, on Friday night. Republic FC (8-1-4, 28pts) heads to SoCal having also earned a point on the road in its last outing as Nick Ross’ goal late in the first half saw the side take a 1-1 draw against the Tampa Bay Rowdies at Al Lang Stadium last Saturday. Sacramento now sits three points ahead of El Paso Locomotive FC for first place in the Western Conference and will be looking to earn a season-sweep against its in-state rival after taking a 1-0 victory on a goal by Luis Felipe Fernandes at Heart Health Park in March.
San Diego Loyal SC – Joe Corona: The former United States international has been a strong presence in the center of midfield this season for his hometown club, and leads the side with 20 chances created this season.
Sacramento Republic FC – Russell Cicerone: The newly-crowned USL Championship Player of the Month for May will look to add to his league-leading 12 combined goals and assists (9 goals, 3 assists) in a big road opportunity.