San Antonio FC's Jorge Hernandez and New Mexico United's Amando Moreno will both try to provide creativity as their sides clash at Isotopes Park on Saturday night. | Photo courtesy Darren Abate / San Antonio FC
A potentially pivotal game in the Eastern Conference’s race to reach the 2023 USL Championship Playoffs arrives on Saturday night as ninth-placed Miami FC hosts eighth-placed Indy Eleven, part of a 10-game slate of action that also features an intriguing pair of contests between New Mexico United and San Antonio FC at Isotopes Park and Phoenix Rising FC and El Paso Locomotive FC to round out the night.
Here's a look ahead at all the action.
Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC vs. Hartford Athletic
Venue: Highmark Stadium
Kickoff: 7 p.m. ET
The Lowdown: Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC will try to maintain its lead at the top of the Eastern Conference as it squares off with a Hartford Athletic side coming off victory in its last outing as it looks for its first win against the Hounds in three years. Pittsburgh (12-4-8, 44pts) took a 1-0 victory against the Tampa Bay Rowdies last Saturday night as Albert Dikwa scored his 11th goal of the season before the hosts shut down a potent Rowdies attack. The Hounds now sit four points clear at the top of the Eastern Conference with 10 games to go in the regular season as they aim for a second first-place finish in five seasons, having previously earned top spot in 2019. Pittsburgh is undefeated in its last six games overall against Hartford (4-0-2) as the sides meet for the first time this campaign, with the Athletic (4-14-4, 16pts) in need of a victory to keep their slim playoff hopes alive. Hartford rallied for a 2-1 win against New Mexico United last Saturday as Beverly Makangila and Antoine Hoppenot found the net, but still have a 12-point gap to make up to eighth-placed Miami FC with 12 games to go in the regular season.
Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC – Arturo Ordonez: The Spanish center back has been one of the Hounds most consistent performers this season and will look for another strong display leading the back line against a talented Athletic attack.
Hartford Athletic – Antoine Hoppenot: The veteran forward scored the 40th regular season goal of his career in the Championship against New Mexico, part of a lively performance he’ll be aiming to replicate for the visitors this time out.
Venue: Riccardo Silva Stadium
Kickoff: 7 p.m. ET
The Lowdown: Miami FC plays host to Indy Eleven in one of the key games of the playoff race in the Eastern Conference with both teams coming off victories in their most recent outings. Miami (6-9-8, 26pts) moved its winning streak to three games last Saturday night with a 4-0 victory against El Paso Locomotive FC that saw Joaquin Rivas score twice before the hosts pulled away late. The side’s three-game winning streak is its first of the season, while the side has conceded only once in the past three games, and Miami has held the upper hand on Indy in recent meetings with a six-game undefeated streak in the series that includes five victories. The Boys in Blue (7-9-7, 28pts) are coming off their own 4-0 victory on Wednesday night against Birmingham Legion FC, however, that saw Solomon Asante record three assists and Sebastian Guenzatti score twice to break a two-game losing streak. The result moved Indy two points ahead of Miami and back into eighth place in the Eastern standings, and with both teams having 11 games to play in the regular season this game could be pivotal for both in their pursuit of a postseason berth.
Miami FC – Mark Segbers: The full back has bagged assists in his last two outings, providing attacking impetus alongside his solid defensive work that has seen him record 24 interceptions and win 22 of 31 tackles.
Indy Eleven – Sebastian Guenzatti: The veteran forward moved into ninth place in the Championship’s all-time regular season goalscoring list with his two-goal performance on Wednesday. He has also scored eight goals in 10 games against Miami previously across the regular season and playoffs.
Venue: Protective Stadium
Kickoff: 7:30 p.m. ET
The Lowdown: Birmingham Legion FC will try to rebound from a heavy midweek setback as it plays host to Sacramento Republic FC, which will be hoping to turn the tables on its hosts after suffering defeat to Birmingham when the teams met last season. Legion FC (9-11-2, 29pts) remained in sixth place in the Championship’s Eastern Conference on Wednesday night as it suffered a 4-0 defeat at Indy Eleven, marking a third consecutive setback for the side. Birmingham is currently three points ahead of Miami FC in ninth place in the standings and will need to dig in to continue its streak of four consecutive postseason appearances since the club’s arrival in the Championship in 2019, but the side took a 1-0 win in Sacramento last season as Juan Agudelo’s early strike stood as the lone goal in the game. Republic FC (12-3-8, 44pts) is taking aim at claiming the Championship’s Players’ Shield this season, though, and enters on a three-game winning streak after a 1-0 victory against Monterey Bay F.C. that saw Russell Cicerone score his 13th goal of the season. Holding a game in hand on Eastern Conference leader Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC, the visitors are pursuing a first-place finish in the Western Conference standings for the second time, having previously achieved the feat in 2016.
Birmingham Legion FC – Enzo Martinez: The veteran playmaker leads Legion FC with eight goals and five assists this season and will need to provide an attacking spark after a deflating midweek performance.
Sacramento Republic FC – Keko: The Spanish winger has recorded assists in three consecutive games while also notching one goal, providing positive energy on the right side that has helped fuel Sacramento’s current winning streak.
Venue: Keyworth Stadium
Kickoff: 7:30 p.m. ET
The Lowdown: Detroit City FC will try to add to a recent undefeated streak as they play host to the Charleston Battery with some familiar faces set to return to Keyworth Stadium in the second meeting of the season between the clubs. Le Rouge (6-11-6, 24pts) return to action after a bye week that followed a 1-1 draw at Oakland Roots SC on July 29 in which Stephen Carroll answered an early goal by the hosts at Pioneer Stadium. DCFC is now undefeated in its last three games but needs to keep winning with a four-point deficit to make up on eighth-placed Indy Eleven as the final quarter of the season comes into view. Charleston (11-6-7, 40pts) is looking well-set for a postseason return, meanwhile, after a 1-1 draw against Louisville City FC on Wednesday night in which the side had a late potential winner ruled out in stoppage time due to a foul on LouCity goalkeeper Oliver Semmle. The Battery sit in second place in the Eastern Conference with 10 games to go in their season and will be hoping for a sharper attacking display this time out against Detroit after the sides played to a scoreless draw in June at Patriots Point as they complete a two-game road trip over the week.
Detroit City FC – Michael Bryant: The dependable defender has been one of Detroit’s most consistent players this season and will need to be at his best to try and contain Augustine Williams and the Battery’s attacking group.
Charleston Battery – Deklan Wynne: The New Zealand international could make his return to Keyworth Stadium after making the offseason move to join the Battery, where he has won 17 of 20 tackles and recorded 20 chances created this season.
Venue: Al Lang Stadium
Kickoff: 7:30 p.m. ET
The Lowdown: The Tampa Bay Rowdies will look to get back in the win column as they play host to a Monterey Bay F.C. side in need of breaking its current winless run as it heads to Al Lang Stadium for the first time. The Rowdies (11-6-5, 38pts) suffered a 1-0 defeat to fellow Eastern Conference contender Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC last Saturday as the side recorded a season-low four shots overall after conceding an early goal. Tampa Bay is now six points back of the Hounds in third place, although it could bridge that gap with two games in hand, as it looks for a strong finish to the campaign. The Rowdies took a 2-1 victory in a testy clash when these sides met a season ago when current Tampa Bay Head Coach Nicky Law was among the scorers. Monterey Bay (7-10-6, 27pts) enters on a seven-game winless streak this time around, however, having fallen 1-0 to NorCal rival Sacramento Republic FC last Saturday night. Looking for its first trip to the playoffs in the club’s second season, MBFC is two points behind eighth placed Phoenix Rising FC in the West, but has lost four games in a row, a run of form it desperately needs to turn around to achieve its goal.
Tampa Bay Rowdies – Forrest Lasso: The experienced defender should return to the lineup after a one-game suspension for caution accumulation and will look to be a threat at set pieces while helping marshal the Rowdies’ back line.
Monterey Bay F.C. – Sam Gleadle: The English playmaker scored against the Rowdies a season ago but is looking for his first goal contribution since June 11 after a good run of form during the first half of the 2023 campaign.
Venue: Lynn Family Stadium
Kickoff: 8 p.m. ET
The Lowdown: Louisville City FC will look to continue its drive for a high finish in the Eastern Conference as it plays host to a Rio Grande Valley FC side looking to rebound and boost its playoff chances in the process. LouCity (10-7-6, 36pts) played to a 1-1 draw against the Charleston Battery on Wednesday night in which Cameron Lancaster scored in a third consecutive game before the hosts withstood a late equalizer and ensuing onslaught by the Battery to earn a point. Lancaster’s goal moved him into a tie for second place in the USL Championship’s regular season goalscoring list alongside Hadji Barry on 79 goals. The English forward is now tied for the team lead alongside Wilson Harris with five goals this season, with Harris having provided the only goal when LouCity took a 1-0 victory against RGV FC at H-E-B Park a season ago. The Toros (6-7-9, 27pts) fell 2-1 to Las Vegas Lights FC last Saturday despite a fine late finish by Erik Pimentel, but the side remains in the playoff hunt sitting only two points behind eighth-placed Phoenix Rising FC with 12 games to go in the regular season. Having suffered defeats in two of their past three outings, however, the Toros are in need of starting another streak similar to the seven-game undefeated run that revived their playoff hopes prior to their recent dip in form.
Louisville City FC – Elijah Wynder: The 20-year-old attacking midfielder has looked more assertive in recent outings and could be rewarded for putting himself in the right positions in the final third again.
Rio Grande Valley FC – Wilmer Cabrera Jr.: The 23-year-old leads the Toros with seven goals this season and has scored twice in the past four outings, making him a threat the LouCity defense will need to account for.
Venue: Isotopes Park
Kickoff: 9 p.m. ET
The Lowdown: New Mexico United will try to rebound from a deflating defeat last time out as it plays host to a San Antonio FC side that enters having won five of its last six outings. New Mexico (8-9-4, 28pts) remained below the playoff line in the Western Conference as it let a halftime lead slip in a 2-1 defeat to Hartford Athletic last Saturday night after Nicky Hernandez had struck after 13 minutes. United has now suffered consecutive defeats for the first time under new Head Coach Eric Quill and faces a challenge against San Antonio, against which it is winless in the past three games after a 2-1 defeat at Toyota Field in May that saw Rida Zouhir and Fabien Garcia score first-half goals for the hosts. SAFC (11-4-7, 40pts) remained in second place in the Western Conference last Saturday as it rallied for a dramatic 2-1 win against Phoenix Rising FC that saw Jorge Hernandez record two assists and Tani Oluwaseyi score his 14th goal of the season. Voted the Championship’s Player of the Month for July, Oluwaseyi leads the race for the Golden Boot and is currently averaging a goal every 72.1 minutes, while Hernandez has recorded two assists in each of the past two games to move to seven helpers for the season, one off the league lead.
New Mexico United – Justin Portillo: The experienced midfielder could make a difference with his set piece deliveries in this contest but will also need to be sharp in the middle of the park against a high-paced San Antonio group.
San Antonio FC – Rida Zouhir: The 19-year-old found the net when these sides met for the first time this season and has been a notable part of the club’s success this season with a willingness to shoot and create from midfield.
Venue: Torero Stadium
Kickoff: 10 p.m. ET
The Lowdown: San Diego Loyal SC will look to build on a dramatic midweek victory as it plays host to Memphis 901 FC for the first meeting between the clubs in their histories. SD Loyal (10-6-6, 36pts) scored twice in the final five minutes against Loudoun United FC on Wednesday night to take a 2-1 win that moved the side back into fourth place in the Western Conference standings. Blake Bodily recorded a goal and assist, while Evan Conway scored the winner for his team-leading 10th goal of the season. Conway has now surpassed his goal total from a season ago and would become the second player to reach 20 regular-season goals for the club after Tumi Moshobane with his next goal. Memphis (9-6-7, 34pts) will try to deny that on Saturday as it heads west after a 2-1 victory against Indy Eleven last Saturday that halted a seven-game winless streak in the league and solidified the club’s position in the Eastern Conference’s top five. Akeem Ward scored the decisive goal for the visitors at Michael A. Carroll Stadium, and 901 FC will now look to break a five-game winless run against Western Conference opposition as it heads to Torero Stadium.
San Diego Loyal SC – Joe Corona: After sitting out Wednesday night’s contest, Corona could return to the lineup to continue what has been a stellar first season for his hometown club, including three goals and one assist.
Memphis 901 FC – Aaron Molloy: The central midfielder continues to be key for Memphis this season, and his battle against a good SD Loyal group could prove decisive in the outcome on Saturday.
Venue: Cashman Field
Kickoff: 10:30 p.m. ET
The Lowdown: Las Vegas Lights FC will look for a second consecutive victory as it welcomes Loudoun United FC to Cashman Field with the visitors having suffered a late defeat on Wednesday night to further deflate their playoff homes. Lights FC (2-12-8, 14pts) took its first home win of the season last Saturday night in a 2-1 victory against Rio Grande Valley FC that saw Tabort Etaka Preston score a pair of spectacular goals to earn Player of the Week honors. Lights FC remains 15 points outside the playoff places with 12 games to play in the season, but it could be hopeful of another good display against a United side that fell 2-1 to San Diego Loyal SC on the first leg of its west-coast trip. Kalil ElMedkhar had put Loudoun (6-16-3, 21pts) ahead in the second half at Torero Stadium, but the side conceded twice in the final five minutes, continuing a trend that has seen Loudoun drop 11 points from winning positions this season and conceded 13 goals in the final 15 minutes of games so far this season. United is seven points outside the playoff positions in the Eastern Conference, but with only nine games to play in the season a win here is a must for the club’s playoff aspirations.
Las Vegas Lights FC – Tabort Etaka Preston: The Cameroonian winger now leads Lights FC with five goals this season and will be aiming to follow up his best performance of the season so far by testing the Loudoun back line.
Loudoun United FC – Houssou Landry: The 22-year-old recorded his second assist of the season in San Diego and has been a strong performer all season for United, completing 26 of 38 dribbles and recording 30 interceptions and 33 tackles in midfield.
Venue: Phoenix Rising Stadium
Kickoff: 11 p.m. ET
The Lowdown: Phoenix Rising FC will try to rebound from a late defeat last time out against an El Paso Locomotive FC side in need of breaking its current winless run as it heads to Arizona. Rising FC (7-7-8, 29pts) remained in eighth place in the Western Conference but missed out on an opportunity to add to its points total after a 2-1 defeat to San Antonio FC last Saturday night as it conceded twice late on after holding the defending title holders despite being down to 10 players for much of the contest. Manuel Arteaga’s early red card against San Antonio will mean the hosts will be without their leading scorer as he serves a one-game suspension on Saturday, but Danny Trejo could fill the gap after scoring his 10th goal of the season against SAFC, marking his second consecutive season with double-digit goals. El Paso (9-8-5, 32pts) sits three points ahead of Phoenix in seventh place but enters on an eight-game winless streak that continued in a 4-0 defeat at Miami FC last Saturday night. Locomotive FC took a 3-1 win when it last faced Rising FC a season ago as Luis Solignac scored twice at Southwest University Park, however, a result the visitors would love to replicate this time out to put space between themselves and the teams battling around the playoff line.
Phoenix Rising FC – Carlos Harvey: The Panamanian international logged a fine assist on Trejo’s goal against San Antonio and when he’s on his game can dictate play both when Rising FC is in possession and defensively.
El Paso Locomotive FC – Luis Solignac: The Argentine forward leads Locomotive FC with nine goals this season, but has scored one goal in the past eight games and will be looking to get back into a groove for the home stretch of the season.
Tag(s): News Game Previews San Antonio FC Phoenix Rising FC Rio Grande Valley FC Sacramento Republic FC Charleston Battery Louisville City FC Pittsburgh Riverhounds Tampa Bay Rowdies Las Vegas Lights FC Birmingham Legion FC Indy Eleven Memphis 901 FC El Paso Locomotive FC New Mexico United Loudoun United FC Hartford Athletic San Diego Loyal SC Miami FC Detroit City FC Monterey Bay F.C.