Sacramento Republic FC and Russell Cicerone will try to turn the tables on Monterey Bay F.C. on Saturday night after MBFC took victory at Heart Health Park in the first meeting between the sides this season. | Photo courtesy Irina Filenko / Sacramento Rep
Two of the top three sides in the Eastern Conference will square off for the first time this season as Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC plays host to the Tampa Bay Rowdies on Saturday night, while the Western Conference slate brings together NorCal rivals Monterey Bay F.C. and Sacramento Republic FC and an enticing clash between Phoenix Rising FC and San Antonio FC as part of an eight-game slate of action to close out Week 22 of the regular season.
Here's a look ahead at all the action.
Venue: Trinity Health Stadium
Kickoff: 7 p.m. ET
The Lowdown: New Mexico United will look to get back into the win column as it visits Hartford Athletic, which returns home looking for just its second victory at Trinity Health Stadium this season. The Athletic (3-14-4, 13pts) are looking to rebound after suffering a 5-2 defeat on the road against San Antonio FC last Saturday in a game in which the side held an early lead against the defending Championship title holders, but ultimately succumbed while conceding three times in the second half. Hartford has conceded a league-high 46 goals this season, something New Mexico will be looking to take advantage of as it also looks for a bounce-back display. United (8-8-4, 28pts) fell 1-0 to Orange County SC last Saturday night to drop to ninth place in the Western Conference as the club’s five-game undefeated streak came to an end. Holding games in hand on the three teams directly above it in the standings, New Mexico has seen an upturn in form under new Head Coach Eric Quill overall with Amando Moreno leading the side with six goals this campaign and will be hoping to maintain its upward trajectory ahead of a run of five games at home in their next six overall after its first trip to Connecticut in club history.
Hartford Athletic – Elvis Amoh: The powerful forward has scored twice in five prior games against New Mexico United and will be looking to add to his four goals so far this season for new club Hartford.
New Mexico United – Harry Swartz: The former Athletic defender will make his return to Trinity Health Stadium having become a notable player for United in three seasons at the club, this year recording three goals and one assist in 20 appearances.
Venue: Michael A. Carroll Stadium
Kickoff: 7 p.m. ET
The Lowdown: Indy Eleven will look to preserve its position above the playoff line as it faces a Memphis 901 FC side in need of a victory to snap a winless streak that continued on Wednesday to open the week’s action. Indy (6-8-7, 25pts) suffered a 2-0 defeat to rival Louisville City FC last Saturday night at Lynn Family Stadium in a game in which its attack once again sputtered, failing to register a shot on target as the hosts swept the LIPAFC series this season. Indy remains a point ahead of Detroit City FC for the eighth and final place in the Eastern Conference playoff field but has won only once on home turf so far this season as it looks for a first postseason berth since 2019. Memphis (8-6-7, 31pts) remained in fifth place in the Eastern Conference on Wednesday as it played to a 0-0 draw with Loudoun United FC at Segra Field, a result that ran its current winless run to seven games. 901 FC has been successful against Indy in their recent meetings, however, going 4-0-2 in the past six league contests between the sides, and Memphis has won four times in 10 road outings so far this season, a trend it will hope to build on with a top-four finish still well within reach.
Indy Eleven – Solomon Asante: The Ghanaian found the net when these teams last met a season ago at Michael A. Carroll Stadium and needs two assists to reach 50 regular season helpers for his career in the Championship.
Memphis 901 FC – Aaron Molloy: The 2022 MVP Finalist put in a stellar individual display against Loudoun, creating six chances, and now leads the Championship with 57 chances created overall this season.
Venue: Highmark Stadium
Kickoff: 7 p.m. ET
The Lowdown: Eastern Conference leader Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC and the third-placed Tampa Bay Rowdies will square off for the first time this season each looking to build on victories in their most recent outings in a key game in the race for the Players’ Shield. The Hounds (11-4-8, 41pts) took a 4-2 victory against Memphis 901 FC last Saturday before a sellout crowd at Highmark Stadium as the side rallied with four consecutive goals after conceding twice in the first half. The contest saw three Hounds record their first goals for the club, with Joe Farrell, Dani Rovira and Juan Carlos Obregon Jr. finding the net before Tola Showumni added a late insurance goal. Pittsburgh will be looking to turn the tables on the Rowdies, who won both regular season meetings between the teams a season ago. Tampa Bay (11-5-5, 38pts) heads north after a 3-0 victory against FC Tulsa last Saturday night at Al Lang Stadium that saw new Head Coach Nicky Law make a winning start at the helm. Charlie Dennis recorded a goal and assist for the side, while Forrest Lasso and JJ Williams also found the net. The Rowdies will be without Lasso on Saturday, however, as he serves a one-game suspension for caution accumulation.
Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC – Kenardo Forbes: The Jamaican playmaker recorded his sixth assist of the season against Memphis, one off the current league lead, and will need to put in a solid two-way performance against a strong Rowdies unit.
Tampa Bay Rowdies – Aaron Guillen: The experienced center back will look to help contain a versatile Hounds attack as the Rowdies try to pull level on points with their rivals on the road.
Venue: Riccardo Silva Stadium
Kickoff: 7 p.m. ET
The Lowdown: Miami FC will try to add to its first run of consecutive victories this season as it returns home to face an El Paso Locomotive FC side that is winless in its last seven games in league action. Miami (5-9-8, 23pts) moved up to 10th place in the Eastern Conference with a 2-1 victory last Saturday night against Loudoun United FC that saw Michael Salazar and Ryan Telfer both find the net. Telfer has scored in consecutive games, also finding the winner in his side’s victory on the road against San Antonio FC, while goalkeeper Adrian Zendejas has been stellar in recent weeks recording 10 saves across the club’s two victories. El Paso (9-7-5, 32pts) dropped to fifth place in the Western Conference, meanwhile, after suffering a 5-2 defeat to Copa Tejas rival Rio Grande Valley FC last Saturday night at H-E-B Park. El Paso twice took the lead against the Toros but conceded three goals in the second half as conceded five times for the first time this season. Solignac has now scored nine goals this season, and now sits on 43 goals in 93 regular season appearances in the Championship for his career, as he looks for a third consecutive season with double-digit goals in El Paso’s colors.
Miami FC – Bolu Akinyode: The experienced central midfielder has put in consistent displays in recent outings and will need to be at his best to help protect the back line against a creative El Paso midfield group.
El Paso Locomotive FC – Eric Calvillo: The El Salvador international had a performance below his usual standards against Rio Grande Valley FC and will be eager to rebound and help his side earn its first win since June 14.
Venue: Cardinale Stadium
Kickoff: 10 p.m. ET
The Lowdown: NorCal rivals Monterey Bay F.C. and Sacramento Republic FC will square off for the second time this season with the hosts looking to regain their footing in the race for the playoffs against the current Western Conference leader. Monterey Bay (7-9-6, 27pts) suffered a 2-0 defeat to Phoenix Rising FC last Saturday night at Cardinale Stadium, extending the club’s winless run to six games. Sitting in 10th place in the West, Monterey Bay is two points outside the playoff positions as it looks for a first trip to the postseason, but the side did claim victory when it visited Sacramento earlier this season when Christian Volesky’s goal proved the difference in a 1-0 victory at Heart Health Park. Republic FC (11-3-8, 41pts) remained on top of the Western standings last weekend, meanwhile, as it took a 2-1 victory against Las Vegas Lights FC behind goals from Russell Cicerone and Zeiko Lewis at Cashman Field. Cicerone now sits with 12 goals this season, one off the league-lead, and is moving within range of Cameron Iwasa’s single-season club record of 17 goals, set in the 2018 season. Having lost their past two league meetings with Monterey Bay, the visitors will be hoping to turn things around as they continue to pursue the best record in the Championship and the Players’ Shield.
Monterey Bay F.C. – Christian Volesky: The veteran forward has scored the game-winning goal in each of the past two meetings between these sides and currently sits on seven goals so far this campaign.
Sacramento Republic FC – Keko: The Spanish forward has recorded one goal and three assists in his past four appearances for Republic FC while helping the side to consecutive wins for the first time since May in its past two contests.
Venue: Torero Stadium
Kickoff: 10 p.m. ET
The Lowdown: San Diego Loyal SC and Orange County SC square off for the second time this season with both teams in positive form while separated by two points in the middle of the playoff positions in the Western Conference. SD Loyal (9-5-6, 33pts) took its third consecutive victory last Sunday afternoon in a 2-0 result against Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC at Torero Stadium behind goals from Joe Corona and Ronaldo Damus. The win moved San Diego into fourth place in the Western standings, one point behind Oakland Roots SC in third. Corona’s goal was his third of the season, with the former United States international also having found the net when San Diego took a 2-1 victory against Orange County at Championship Soccer Stadium earlier this season. OCSC (9-9-4, 31pts) has shifted up the standings since that result, however, winning six of its last seven games including a 1-0 win against New Mexico United last Saturday night that saw Milan Iloski score the winner late in the contest. Iloski has now scored 10 goals this season, while 17-year-old starlet Bryce Jamison has notched a goal and assist in the past two games, helping the 2021 Championship title winners move up to sixth place in the Western standings.
San Diego Loyal SC – Tumi Moshobane: The South African leads SD Loyal with five assists this season and found the net when these teams met for the first time this season in May.
Orange County SC – Milan Iloski: The 24-year-old has recorded 10 goals this season, becoming the second player in OCSC history to record consecutive seasons with double-digit goals after Michael Seaton.
Venue: Cashman Field
Kickoff: 10:30 p.m. ET
The Lowdown: Rio Grande Valley FC will look to build on its biggest win of the season so far as it faces as Las Vegas Lights FC aiming for its first home win of the season after narrowly missing out in recent weeks. Las Vegas (1-12-8, 11pts) saw its winless run stretch to 10 games last Saturday in a 2-1 defeat to Sacramento Republic FC despite a first-half penalty kick by Andrew Carleton. Lights FC is now 18 points out of the final playoff place in the Western Conference with 13 games to play in the regular season but has regularly proven a tough side to knock over despite its record. The Toros (6-6-9, 27pts) will look to avoid slipping into a trap after taking a 5-2 victory against El Paso Locomotive FC last Saturday night that saw Taylor Davila score twice to continue his stellar campaign for the side. While sitting in 11th place in the standings, the Toros are only two points out of the top eight and with a win could move into the playoff positions pending other results this weekend. After playing to a 1-1 draw on the opening weekend of the regular season, the Toros will be hoping to emulate their last trip to Cashman Field which saw the side take a 5-0 win that proved key in its surge into the playoffs a season ago.
Las Vegas Lights FC – Tabort Etaka Preston: The speedy forward has notched three goals this season and will look to stretch the Toros’ defense on the flanks as the hosts go in search of victory.
Rio Grande Valley FC – Taylor Davila: The attacking playmaker has recorded five goals and three assists this season while being arguably the most consistent performer for the side with his passing in the final third.
Venue: Phoenix Rising Stadium
Kickoff: 11 p.m. ET
The Lowdown: Phoenix Rising FC and San Antonio FC will both try to build on notable victories in their most recent outings last Saturday with the hosts aiming to secure their place above the playoff line against the defending Championship title holders. Rising FC (7-6-8, 29pts) took a 2-0 victory against Monterey Bay F.C. last Saturday as goals by Manuel Arteaga and Danny Trejo and a six-save shutout by Rocco Rios Novo led the side back up to eighth place in the conference standings. Phoenix has only recorded consecutive victories once this season, however, and will face a challenge from a San Antonio FC side that leads the Championship with 47 goals this campaign. SAFC (10-4-7, 37pts) remained in second place in the West with a 5-2 victory against Hartford Athletic last Saturday as Tani Oluwaseyi recorded the first four-goal game in the club’s history. The Minnesota United FC loanee now leads the Championship with 13 goals this season, while Saturday’s game could see the return to the San Antonio lineup of 2022 Championship Final MVP Santiago Patiño, who re-joined the club this week on a multi-year contract. After the sides played to a heated 1-1 draw at Toyota Field earlier this season, this clash could see a playoff level of intensity between the two longtime rivals.
Phoenix Rising FC – Renzo Zambrano: The experienced central midfielder won 8 of 10 duels and made six recoveries when these sides first played and his ability to win possession and distribute could be key for the hosts against an aggressive San Antonio side.
San Antonio FC – Jorge Hernandez: The attacking playmaker recorded two assists against Hartford to complete a stellar month in which he notched two goals and four assists overall, making him a player Phoenix will have to keep tabs on.
Tag(s): News Game Previews San Antonio FC Orange County SC Phoenix Rising FC Rio Grande Valley FC Sacramento Republic FC Pittsburgh Riverhounds Tampa Bay Rowdies Las Vegas Lights FC Indy Eleven Memphis 901 FC El Paso Locomotive FC New Mexico United Hartford Athletic San Diego Loyal SC Miami FC Monterey Bay F.C.