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Gameday Previews – Saturday, June 10

By Staff, 06/09/23, 3:40PM EDT


Copa Tejas showdown sees San Antonio host El Paso while top two in East also meet in nine-game slate

Mitchell Taintor and San Antonio FC will begin the defense of their Copa Tejas crown as they host El Paso Locomotive FC at Toyota Field on Saturday night. | Photo courtesy Darren Abate / San Antonio FC

The top two teams in the USL Championship’s Eastern Conference are set to square off on Saturday night as Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC hosts the Charleston Battery at Highmark Stadium, and this year’s Copa Tejas begins as San Antonio FC and El Paso Locomotive FC put notable streaks on the line as part of a nine-game slate of action that wraps up Week 14 of the regular season this Saturday night.

Here's a look ahead at all the action.

Indy Eleven vs. Hartford Athletic

Venue: Michael A. Carroll Stadium
Kickoff: 7 p.m. ET
Broadcast: ESPN+ Predictor: IND 48%, HFD 25%, Draw 26%

The Lowdown: Indy Eleven will look to build on a big victory last time out as it plays host to a Hartford Athletic side that could see a major new arrival make his debut as it looks to close the gap to the playoff positions in the Eastern Conference. Indy (4-5-3, 15pts) pulled away for a 4-0 victory against the Charleston Battery last Friday night as Aodhan Quinn converted twice from the penalty spot and Roberto Molina scored his first goal for the club, taking advantage of an early red card that reduced the Battery to 10 players for much of the contest. The result continued Indy’s recent pattern of alternating wins and losses in its last five outings overall, with the side yet to record consecutive league victories so far this season. The Boys in Blue will have a new potential face to call on after the acquisition on Friday of veteran midfielder Sebastian Velasquez as the hosts look to reverse a 2-1 defeat to the Athletic when the side last met a season ago. Hartford (2-7-3, 9pts) is currently at the bottom of the Eastern Conference standings but played to a 0-0 draw with Louisville City FC last Saturday and looks set to unveil new arrival Edgardo Rito as it heads to Indy, with the 2022 Championship All-League First Team selection acquired this week in a transfer deal with Oakland Roots SC.

Spotlight Players
Indy Eleven – Douglas Martinez, Jr.:
The Honduran forward has notched a pair of assists since arriving from Sacramento Republic FC early this season and will be hoping to score his first goal for the Boys in Blue this time out.

Hartford Athletic – Edgardo Rito: The Venezuelan has notched two goals and two assists in 10 games this season for Oakland and should provide some speed and guile for the visitors in the attacking third up the right flank.

Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC vs. Charleston Battery

Venue: Highmark Stadium
Kickoff: 7 p.m. ET
Broadcast: ESPN+ Predictor: PIT 57%, CHS 16%, Draw 27%

The Lowdown: The first-placed Charleston Battery will visit second-placed Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC for the first time this season with the longtime rivals separated by two points in the standings as they square off for the 27th time in the Championship’s regular season. The Hounds (6-2-5, 23pts) return to league play after seeing their run in the 2023 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup come to an end in the Quarterfinals on Tuesday after a 3-1 defeat to FC Cincinnati at TQL Stadium. Pittsburgh is undefeated in its last six games in the Championship, however, having taken a 1-0 win against Phoenix Rising FC last Saturday at Highmark Stadium behind Arturo Ordonez’s third goal in as many games, and with a win here the side would vault into first place in the Eastern standings. The Battery (7-3-4, 25pts) played to a 0-0 draw on Wednesday night against Detroit City FC in a game that saw kickoff delayed by three hours due to lightning at Patriots Point, and now will try to find a way to hand the Hounds their first loss on home turf this season. Charleston has held a narrow edge in the series between the sides since the start of the USL Championship era with a 9-5-12 record and earned a point in a 0-0 draw when it visited Highmark Stadium last season.

Spotlight Players
Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC – Kenardo Forbes:
The veteran playmaker is one assist from reaching 60 regular season helpers for his career as he sits tied for the league-lead with four so far this campaign.

Charleston Battery – Nick Markanich: The 23-year-old forward has come on as a substitute in each of the past two outings for the Battery after returning from injury and could see more minutes after recording three goals previously this year.

Tampa Bay Rowdies vs. New Mexico United

Venue: Al Lang Stadium
Kickoff: 7:30 p.m. ET
Broadcast: ESPN+ Predictor: TBR 53%, NM 21%, Draw 26%

The Lowdown: The Tampa Bay Rowdies will try to continue their current undefeated streak as they play host to New Mexico United, which will play its first game since the departure of Head Coach Zach Prince, in the first meeting between the clubs in their histories. The Rowdies (6-4-3, 21pts) played to a 1-1 draw against current Western Conference leader Sacramento Republic FC as forward JJ Williams scored his sixth goal of the season before the visitors leveled just before halftime. Williams and Conner Antley will both be unavailable for selection for the hosts on Saturday after each receiving red cards for two cautionable offenses late in the game, an ending that marked the first time Tampa Bay had two players sent off in the same contest since joining the USL Championship in 2017. The hosts will have a familiar face back in the squad, however, with Jake LaCava arriving on loan from Inter Miami CF for a second stint in Tampa Bay, and he could make an immediate return with Williams sidelined. New Mexico (4-5-2, 14pts) will be trying to rebound after falling 1-0 to El Paso Locomotive FC last Saturday night at Isotopes Park. The game marked the end of Prince’s tenure as he departed to pursue a new opportunity, with assistant coach Masaki “Mac” Hemmi set to lead the side in Tampa Bay. The contest is United’s second visit to Florida this season, and the side will be hoping it can repeat its victory against Miami FC in March when Justin Portillo scored the only goal in the club’s first game of the campaign.

Spotlight Players
Tampa Bay Rowdies – Jake LaCava:
The 22-year-old forward recorded 12 goals and five assists last season with Tampa Bay to earn nomination for the Championship’s Young Player of the Year award.

New Mexico United – Santi Moar: The Spanish winger found the net on his last visit to Al Lang Stadium in 2021 with Phoenix Rising FC and will look to add to his one goal and one assist so far this season.

Louisville City FC vs. Memphis 901 FC

Venue: Lynn Family Stadium
Kickoff: 8 p.m. ET
Broadcast: ESPN+ Predictor: LOU 54%, MEM 21%, Draw 25%

The Lowdown: Louisville City FC and Memphis 901 FC will meet for the second time this season with the visitors looking to build on their biggest win of the season so far as they head to Lynn Family Stadium. LouCity (6-3-3, 21pts) returns home to play its first game since the official announcement of star center back Joshua Wynder’s transfer to legendary Portuguese club S.L. Benfica on Thursday with the side aiming to find more consistency in the final third. Louisville has scored 12 goals in 12 games this season after a scoreless draw at Hartford Athletic last Saturday night left the side in fourth place in the Eastern Conference standings. Memphis (5-2-3, 18pts) hasn’t had such attacking issues with the side coming off a 5-1 win against Miami FC last Saturday at AutoZone Park that saw five different players find the net. 901 FC is now undefeated in its last eight league games (5-0-3) to move into fifth place in the Eastern Conference and with games in hand on the Eastern Conference leaders the side could continue its upward shift on Saturday. The teams played to a 1-1 draw when they met in Memphis in April as Sean Totsch opened the scoring for LouCity before Luiz Fernando provided a second-half equalizer for 901 FC, while Memphis claimed victory in its last visit to Lynn Family Stadium as Graham Smith scored a stoppage-time winner in a 2-1 result for the visitors.

Spotlight Players
Louisville City FC – Amadou Dia:
The veteran left back earned Team of the Week honors for a stellar display against Hartford and will be aiming for something similar here as he looks to add to his two assists this season.

Memphis 901 FC – Nighte Pickering: The 18-year-old forward has recorded two goals and two assists in his past three appearances as he continues to grow into a bigger role in the club’s attacking group.

Rio Grande Valley FC vs. Miami FC

Venue: H-E-B Park
Kickoff: 8 p.m. ET
Broadcast: ESPN+ Predictor: RGV 39%, MIA 31%, Draw 30%

The Lowdown: Rio Grande Valley FC and Miami FC will both be hoping to end recent downturns in form as they square off for the second time both sitting below the playoff line in their respective conferences. The Toros (2-5-5, 11pts) suffered a third consecutive defeat last time out as they fell 2-0 to Orange County SC last Saturday night after conceding twice in the opening 20 minutes at Championship Soccer Stadium. The result dropped RGVFC to 11th place in the Western Conference as it returns home looking for a first win in almost a month having been held scoreless in all three recent defeats. Miami (2-5-6, 12pts) is winless in its last four outings, meanwhile, after falling 5-1 to Memphis 901 FC last Saturday at AutoZone Park. The game marked the first time Miami had allowed five goals in a game since joining the USL Championship prior to the 2020 season and left the side in 10th place in the Eastern Conference. The visitors will be without midfielder Bolu Akinyode this time out after he was sent off for two cautionable offenses against Memphis, and Miami will be hoping to reverse its last meeting with the Toros which saw RGVFC take a 4-2 victory in the 2021 season at Riccardo Silva Stadium when former Toros forward Elvis Amoh scored a hat trick.

Spotlight Players
Rio Grande Valley FC – Christiano Francois:
The Haitian winger could square off against a club at which he had notable success, recording 11 goals and six assists for Miami during the 2021 season.

Miami FC – Christian Sorto: The El Salvadoran winger will return to face the Toros – for whom he played in the 2021 season – having notched a pair of goals for Miami so far this campaign.

Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC vs. Orange County SC

Venue: Weidner Field
Kickoff: 9 p.m. ET
Broadcast: ESPN+ Predictor: COS 46%, OC 25%, Draw 28%

The Lowdown: Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC will try to get back on a winning track as it plays host to an Orange County SC side coming off a good victory last time out. The Switchbacks (5-7-1, 16pts) suffered a fifth consecutive loss last Friday night against Oakland Roots SC to drop to seventh place in the Western Conference standings as a return to Weidner Field didn’t solve the struggles the side has recently faced. One of the elements to the side’s downturn in form has been a lack of consistent finishing, with only Romario Williams (4 goals) and Jairo Henriquez (2 goals) having found the net more than once for the side this season. Orange County (3-7-4, 13pts) took its second win in the past four games last Saturday, meanwhile, as both Milan Iloski and Korede Osundina found the net in a 2-0 victory against Rio Grande Valley FC to pull the side within view of the playoff places. Iloski has now recorded five goals this campaign in the league, while OCSC goalkeeper Colin Shutler has notched shutouts in three of his past four games as the side has conceded just once in that span.

Spotlight Players
Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC – Jairo Henriquez:
The Switchbacks will be hoping for a strong performance from their playmaker before he departs for international duty with El Salvador early next week.

Orange County SC – Korede Osunsina: The 19-year-old forward bagged his second goal of the season against Rio Grande Valley FC and look to build on that with another confident display.

San Antonio FC vs. El Paso Locomotive FC

Venue: Toyota Field
Kickoff: 9 p.m. ET
Broadcast: ESPN+ Predictor: SA 57%, ELP 18%, Draw 25%

The Lowdown: The 2023 Copa Tejas kicks off as two of the top three teams in the Western Conference put respective streaks on the line with San Antonio FC playing host to El Paso Locomotive FC at Toyota Field. San Antonio (6-2-5, 23pts) completes its recent homestand after playing to a 3-3 draw against San Diego Loyal SC last Saturday that saw the side unable to hold a three-goal lead after Tani Oluwaseyi was sent off in the first half. SAFC is undefeated in its past 22 home games in the regular season, however, and has been highly effective early in games, scoring six times in the opening 15 minutes and 14 times in the first half. Locomotive FC (8-3-1, 25pts) will look to challenge San Antonio’s home record as it arrives on a seven-game winning streak that continued last weekend with a 1-0 victory against rival New Mexico United at Isotopes Park. The result moved El Paso into sole possession of second place in the standings as Denys Kostyshyn’s second-half goal proved the difference, with the Ukrainian midfielder now sitting on three goals this season. Locomotive FC claimed the Copa Tejas in 2021 before SAFC’s success last year in the three-way rivalry which also included Rio Grande Valley FC. El Paso will be hoping to maintain its current edge in the standings this time around after suffering a pair of 1-0 defeats a season ago.

Spotlight Players
San Antonio FC – Rida Zouhir:
The 19-year-old midfielder has scored in consecutive games on loan from Club de Foot Montreal of MLS and will try to continue that streak in one of the must-see games of the weekend.

El Paso Locomotive FC – Luis Solignac: The Argentine had success at San Antonio FC before making the move to El Paso for the 2021 season and will be looking to lead his current club to victory on his old stomping grounds.

Las Vegas Lights FC vs. Monterey Bay F.C. 

Venue: Cashman Field
Kickoff: 10:30 p.m. ET
Broadcast: ESPN+ Predictor: LV 42%, MB 30%, Draw 28%

The Lowdown: Las Vegas Lights FC will try to build on its first win of the season as it returns home to host a Monterey Bay F.C. side that was clicking in attack last time out to move back into the playoff positions in the Western Conference. Lights FC (1-4-6, 9pts) broke through in its last outing on May 26 as Erick “Cubo” Torres scored the only goal in a 1-0 victory away at Phoenix Rising FC. The goal was Torres’ second of the season, moving the first Mexico international into a tie for the club lead, and after a bye last week the hosts will try to earn another three points to potentially move out of the basement in the West. Monterey Bay (4-4-5, 17pts) could provide a major challenge, however, with the club’s attacking having clicked back into gear last Saturday night in a 4-1 victory against Loudoun United FC that saw Sam Gleadle and Christian Volesky both record a goal and assist. Las Vegas claimed a 4-0 victory when these sides met at Cashman Field last season in their most recent meeting, however, a result current Lights FC Head Coach Isidro Sanchez would love to replicate this time around.

Spotlight Players
Las Vegas Lights FC – Lucas Stauffer:
The right back provided the assist on Torres’ goal in Phoenix for his third helper of the season and the 28-year-old has proven a reliable option for the side overall this campaign.

Monterey Bay F.C. – Sam Gleadle: The English attacking midfielder has notched three goals and four assists this season and has looked lively overall since returning from a month layoff with injury in MBFC’s last two games.

Phoenix Rising FC vs. Oakland Roots SC

Venue: Phoenix Rising Stadium
Kickoff: 10:30 p.m. ET
Broadcast: ESPN+ Predictor: PHX 49%, OAK 25%, Draw 26%

The Lowdown: Phoenix Rising FC will try to rebound from consecutive setbacks as Head Coach Juan Guerra faces former club Oakland Roots SC with the visitors coming in with four wins in their last five games overall. Rising FC (4-4-4, 16pts) dropped to eighth place in the Western Conference last Saturday night after being held at bay for a second consecutive outing in a 1-0 defeat at Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC. Phoenix has only notched one shutout so far this season, while sitting tied for 15th in goals (14) and shot conversion rate (14%) as it looks to find a path back up the standings. Roots SC (6-4-2, 20pts) is coming off a 1-0 victory on the road at Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC last Friday night which saw goalkeeper Paul Blanchette record his sixth shutout of the season to move into a tie for the league-lead. Oakland has seen forward Johnny Rodriguez score in consecutive games to move into the club lead with five goals this season, too, and the visitors will be hopeful of a repeat of their last visit to Phoenix which saw Lindo Mfeka score both goals in a 2-0 victory.

Spotlight Players
Phoenix Rising FC – Alejandro Fuenmayor:
The Venezuelan center back should face his former club after making the offseason move to reunite with Guerra in Phoenix having made 25 clearances and nine interceptions this season.

Oakland Roots SC – Napo Matsoso: The experienced midfielder had one of his best games of the season in Colorado Springs last time out and will be aiming for more of the same against a good Rising FC midfield unit.

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