Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC will play host to Sacramento Republic FC on Saturday night in a clash between two of the top teams in the USL Championship so far this season. | Photo courtesy Chris Cowger / Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC
A potential preview of the USL Championship Final in November will bring some familiar faces back to Highmark Stadium on Saturday night as part of Sacramento Republic FC, while the night also brings together two teams vying for a place above the playoff line in the Eastern Conference in Indy Eleven and FC Tulsa and a final game at the helm for Tampa Bay Rowdies Head Coach Neill Collins, whose side will try to add to a 10-game undefeated streak as it returns home to Al Lang Stadium.
Here's a look ahead at all the action.
Venue: Trinity Health Stadium
Kickoff: 7 p.m. ET
The Lowdown: Hartford Athletic will try to break a seven-game winless streak as they return home to face a San Diego Loyal SC side that has struggled to maintain leads in its past two outings and enters on a six-game winless streak overall. Hartford (2-11-4, 10pts) fell 2-1 to Loudoun United FC on Monday night despite taking a first-half lead through Prince Saydee at Segra Field, with the side conceding seven minutes from full time to fall for the fourth consecutive game. The Athletic have now dropped 16 points from a winning position this season, the most in the league, and face a nine-point gap to the playoff positions as they kick off the second half of their campaign. San Diego (6-6-5, 24pts) dropped to seventh place in the Western Conference last Saturday night, meanwhile, as it was unable to hold a two-goal lead against Indy Eleven, ending in a 2-2 draw at Michael A. Carroll Stadium despite the hosts being down to 10 players during its second-half rally. SD Loyal is looking for its first victory since May 20, when it rallied to win 3-2 on the road against Miami FC, but with their recent form both teams will be keen to get back into the win column with San Diego in danger of dropping out of the playoff positions with a defeat.
Hartford Athletic – Edgardo Rito: The Venezuelan dynamo notched his first assists for his new club against Loudoun as part of a solid all-around display and will want to push for more as the Athletic look to pull out of their funk.
San Diego Loyal SC – Charlie Adams: The English midfielder continued his comeback from injury with his first goal of the season in 45 minutes of action against Indy and could be an important figure in settling the ship for the visitors.
Venue: Michael A. Carroll Stadium
Kickoff: 7 p.m. ET
The Lowdown: Indy Eleven and FC Tulsa will both look to build on impressive comebacks last time out as they square off for the first time this season. Indy (5-6-5, 20pts) maintained its place in the playoff positions in the Eastern Conference as it rallied for a 2-2 draw against San Diego Loyal SC last Saturday as Aodhan Quinn scored twice from the penalty spot despite the side having been reduced to 10 players with just over half-an-hour to play after Gustavo Rissi was sent off for denial of a goalscoring opportunity. Quinn’s goals moved him to 50 regular season goals in the Championship for his career – the 24th player to do so – with all five of his goals this season having come from the penalty spot. Tulsa (3-7-7, 16pts) remained in touch with the playoff positions as it rallied for a 3-2 victory against Detroit City FC last Friday night behind a standout performance by Phillip Goodrum who recorded two goals and an assist at ONEOK Field. A midseason arrival from Memphis 901 FC, Goodrum has recorded four goals and one assist in six games for Tulsa. The side is now three points out of the playoff positions in the Eastern Conference standings and only four points back of Indy in seventh place, making this game a major one for both clubs in the battle for position in the middle of the conference.
Indy Eleven – Adrian Diz Pe: The Cuban center back was acquired by Indy this offseason via transfer from Tulsa and has been one of the most consistent performers for the Boys in Blue this year, recording 56 clearances and 24 interceptions.
FC Tulsa – Eric Bird: The veteran midfielder put in a strong display against Detroit City, winning the opening penalty kick as he broke from midfield to challenge the back line, and his versatility should be important again for the visitors here.
Venue: Riccardo Silva Stadium
Kickoff: 7 p.m. ET
The Lowdown: Phoenix Rising FC will aim to build on one of the most emphatic victories of the season so far as it heads to face a Miami FC side in major need of a turnaround after going eight games without a win in league play. Miami (2-8-7, 13pts) suffered a third consecutive defeat last Saturday as it fell 2-0 to Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC at Weidner Field to remain in 11th place in the Eastern Conference. The contest was the second in a row in which the side was held scoreless as leading goalscorer Kyle Murphy was held without a shot in the contest. Rising FC (6-4-7, 25pts) caught fire, on the other hand, in its last outing with a 6-0 win against Memphis 901 FC that saw six different players find the net at Phoenix Rising Stadium. The result saw Phoenix run its undefeated streak to five games as Manuel Arteaga scored in his fifth consecutive contest and both Carlos Harvey and Erickson Gallardo recorded a goal and assist. Arteaga now leads the Championship with 10 goals this season, and the visitors will be hoping for a similar result to the meeting between these teams a season ago when Luis Manuel Seijas produced a spectacular late winner for a 2-1 victory for Phoenix. With Miami struggling for form, the hosts will need to pull out a big display as they try to kickstart their hopes of a return to the playoffs.
Miami FC – Claudio Repetto: The Italian forward was acquired from Phoenix by Miami during the 2022 season and this will mark his first opportunity to face Rising FC since that transaction brought him to South Florida.
Phoenix Rising FC – Panos Armenakas: The Australian playmaker has begun to assimilate into his new side’s midfield over the past three games, recording one goal and two assists, and will be looking for another sharp display here.
Venue: Highmark Stadium
Kickoff: 7 p.m. ET
The Lowdown: Two of the top teams in the USL Championship this season will square off as some familiar faces return to Highmark Stadium in Sacramento Republic FC’s squad to face Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC in one the weekend’s biggest games. The Hounds (8-2-7, 31pts) played to a scoreless draw in their most recent outing against Louisville City FC, extending the club’s current undefeated run to 10 games as it sits in a three-way tie for first place in the Eastern Conference standings. The shutout was Pittsburgh’s seventh of the season, and the side ranks second to Sacramento in goals conceded (12) with both teams having been impressive defensively throughout the campaign. Republic FC (9-2-6, 33pts) were stung late in its most recent outing as a stoppage-time equalizer by Rio Grande Valley FC resulted in a 1-1 draw at Heart Health Park as Danny Vitiello was denied his seventh shutout of the season. Vitiello is one of three former Hounds who could feature against their old club for Republic FC on Saturday night with Russell Cicerone leading Sacramento with nine goals this season and Shane Wiedt playing a notable role on the back line since their arrivals this offseason. After the sides played to a 1-1 draw a season ago in California, the winner here would get a leg up in the race to host the USL Championship Final should these teams emerge from their respective conferences in the postseason.
Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC – Kenardo Forbes: The veteran playmaker found the net last season when these sides clashed and is currently tied for the league-lead with five assists this campaign.
Sacramento Republic FC – Russell Cicerone: The standout forward recorded 31 goals and 14 assists in 67 appearances for the Hounds across the regular season and playoffs before his offseason move to Sacramento.
Venue: Al Lang Stadium
Kickoff: 7:30 p.m. ET
The Lowdown: The Tampa Bay Rowdies will aim to send Head Coach Neill Collins off on a winning note as he takes the helm one last time before departing to Barnsley FC in England as they host Oakland Roots SC aiming to add to a 10-game undefeated streak. The Rowdies (9-4-4, 31pts) sit tied for first place in the Eastern Conference after a brilliant strike by JJ Williams earned the side a 2-1 victory against Las Vegas Lights FC last Saturday night for the club’s eighth win in the past 10 games. Williams has now recorded a team-high seven goals this season and will look to continue that form as Tampa Bay aims to add to a five-game home undefeated streak that stretches over two months. Roots SC (6-5-5, 23pts) has been a good road performer this season, however, winning three times in eight games away from home, but the visitors will be looking to return to the win column after suffering a 2-0 defeat to Rio Grande Valley FC on June 28 in their most recent outing at Pioneer Stadium. The past week has seen that result leave Roots SC in eighth place in the Western Conference standings, which makes earning a result against one of the Eastern Conference’s top clubs a challenge Oakland must rise to.
Tampa Bay Rowdies – Charlie Dennis: The English playmaker has recorded six goals since joining the Rowdies via transfer from Oakland this offseason, and he could play a pivotal role in the attacking third against his former club.
Oakland Roots SC – Tarek Morad: The veteran defender spent a season-and-a-half with the Rowdies early in Neill Collins’ tenure in Tampa Bay and will want to put in a stellar display on the back line to help his side to a result.
Venue: Lynn Family Stadium
Kickoff: 8 p.m. ET
The Lowdown: Louisville City FC will look to build on its three-game undefeated streak as it plays host to a Loudoun United FC side buoyed by a late victory on Monday night that returned it to the playoff positions in the Eastern Conference. LouCity (7-4-5, 26pts) played to a 0-0 draw against Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC last Saturday night as Elijah Wynder went closest to scoring for either side with a chance that was cleared off the line by the Hounds to leave the game goalless. The result continued LouCity’s attacking challenges this season, with the side having recorded 16 goals in 16 games in the league this season, but Loudoun has been an opponent the side has had attacking success against in recent meetings, scoring eight times in three consecutive wins in the series. United (6-12-1, 19pts) has shown its own attacking punch this season, however, and grabbed a late win against Hartford Athletic in a lightning-delayed contest on Monday night that saw Tommy Williamson score the winner with seven minutes to go. The win moved Loudoun into sole possession of eighth place in the East, but with the side having played 19 games already this season – the most of any team in the conference – the visitors will need to keep getting results to hold off the challengers directly below them in the standings.
Louisville City FC – Wilson Harris: The young forward has recorded four goals in four appearances against Loudoun in his career and will be looking to kickstart a campaign that has currently netted four goals in 13 appearances in the league.
Loudoun United FC – Tommy Williamson: The 24-year-old ranks third in the league with 39 shots this season and has bagged four goals while also doing positive work pressing in the attacking third.
Venue: Isotopes Park
Kickoff: 9 p.m. ET
The Lowdown: New Mexico United and Detroit City FC will both be aiming to rebound from late disappointments in their most recent outings as they square off looking to push toward the playoff positions in their respective conferences. New Mexico (6-7-4, 22pts) was denied a third consecutive win on Tuesday night as it allowed a late equalizer in a 2-2 draw against Las Vegas Lights FC at Cashman Field. Amando Moreno and Daniel Bruce had each found the net for the side in the first half, continuing the positive runs of form both have found under new Head Coach Eric Quill, with Moreno having scored three goals in the past four games, and Bruce bagging three in the past five. Le Rouge (4-9-4, 16pts) conceded twice in the last 10 minutes to fall 3-2 to FC Tulsa in its most recent outing last Friday night, meanwhile, marking only the second time this season the side had allowed more than one goal in a game. DCFC is now winless in its last three games and sits three points outside the playoff positions, but the side could try to take inspiration from its last trip the Southwest early this season when it claimed victory on the road against El Paso Locomotive FC, one of two road wins the side has earned so far this campaign.
New Mexico United – Daniel Bruce: The English forward has made the most of his opportunity to lead the line for United, putting in consistent performances while finding the net three times, already equaling his prior career-high in the 2021 season.
Detroit City FC – Maxi Rodriguez: The veteran midfielder found the net when these sides played to a 2-2 draw at Keyworth Stadium this season and continues to be an essential figure in the center of midfield for Le Rouge.
Venue: Cardinale Stadium
Kickoff: 10 p.m. ET
The Lowdown: Monterey Bay F.C. will try to get back on track after consecutive setbacks as it welcomes El Paso Locomotive FC to Cardinale Stadium, with the visitors also looking to rebound after the end of a lengthy undefeated streak last time out. Monterey Bay (7-6-5, 26pts) suffered a second consecutive defeat on Tuesday night as it fell 4-0 to Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC, a result that saw the Switchbacks jump past their visitors into fourth place in the Western Conference standings. MBFC will want to avoid the slow starts that plagued the side at Weidner Field this time out, conceding inside the opening two minutes in the first half and after just 15 seconds in the second on the way to defeat, but they could take hope from the last meeting between these sides last season when Adrian Rebollar scored a late winner at Cardinale Stadium for a 1-0 win. Locomotive FC (9-4-3, 30pts) saw its 12-game undefeated streak come to an end in its last outing as it fell 1-0 to rival New Mexico United last Saturday night, but the side remains in second place in the Western Conference as it reaches the midway point of its season. El Paso is also undefeated on the road this season, winning five times in seven games, and will look to carry that form into this contest as it tries to keep the pressure on first-placed Sacramento Republic FC in the race for top spot.
Monterey Bay F.C. – Sam Gleadle: The English playmaker has recorded four goals and five assists this season and could have a major role to play if the hosts are to earn all three points back on home turf.
El Paso Locomotive FC – Luis Solignac: The Argentine forward has been held off the scoresheet in the past two games but hasn’t been held scoreless in three consecutive outings since opening his account this season on March 31.
Venue: Cashman Field
Kickoff: 10:30 p.m. ET
The Lowdown: Las Vegas Lights FC will try to build on a dramatic ending to earn a point at home in its last outing as it plays host to a Birmingham Legion FC looking to get back in the win columns after a setback last time out. Lights FC (1-9-7, 10pts) grabbed a 2-2 draw against New Mexico United on Tuesday night as Las Vegas native Azriel Gonzalez scored in the fourth minute of second-half stoppage time to earn his side its seventh draw of the season. The result ended a five-game losing streak for the side, which is still looking for its first home win of the season at Cashman Field as it faces a Legion FC side it played to a 0-0 draw when the sides met last season at Protective Stadium. Birmingham (7-8-1, 22pts) remained in sixth place in the Eastern Conference after falling 3-1 to San Antonio FC last Saturday at Toyota Field despite a strong effort that saw Tyler Pasher score his third goal of the season as the visitors outshot their hosts 16-12. Legion FC had claimed consecutive home wins prior to its trip to Texas but has lost four in a row on the road as it heads to Las Vegas for the first time, a run of form it will be eager to break as it tries to push back up the standings.
Las Vegas Lights FC – Pato Botello Faz: The Mexican forward scored the opening goal for Las Vegas against New Mexico for his team-leading third of the season and will look to carry that confidence boost into this clash.
Birmingham Legion FC – Neco Brett: The Jamaican veteran had a tidy display against San Antonio after coming on as a substitute, and found the net against Las Vegas last season while competing for New Mexico United.
Tag(s): Game Previews Phoenix Rising FC Sacramento Republic FC FC Tulsa Louisville City FC Pittsburgh Riverhounds Tampa Bay Rowdies Las Vegas Lights FC Birmingham Legion FC Indy Eleven El Paso Locomotive FC New Mexico United Loudoun United FC Hartford Athletic San Diego Loyal SC Miami FC Oakland Roots SC Detroit City FC Monterey Bay F.C.