skip navigation

Gameday Previews – Saturday, August 26

By Staff, 08/25/23, 5:05PM EDT


An 11-game slate bring crucial games in the playoff race, a top rivalry clash, and a potential USL Championship Final preview

The Tampa Bay Rowdies and Miami FC will renew their rivalry on Saturday night, part of an 11-game slate of action throughout the night. | Photo courtesy Matt May / Tampa Bay Rowdies

A potential USL Championship Final preview, one of the league’s notable in-state rivalries and a night of celebration for Sacramento Republic FC highlight an 11-game slate of action on Saturday night across the USL Championship, with Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC in position to become the first team to clinch a playoff berth by the end of the weekend.

Here's a look ahead at all the action.

Hartford Athletic vs. El Paso Locomotive FC

Venue: Trinity Health Stadium
Kickoff: 7 p.m. ET
Broadcast: ESPN+

The Lowdown: El Paso Locomotive FC will try to stay above the playoff line in the Western Conference as it visits Hartford Athletic, which played its part in an entertaining midweek game only to come up just short. The Athletic (4-17-4, 16pts) almost pulled off a stunning comeback on Wednesday night as they erased a three-goal deficit against Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC with goals from Matt Sheldon, Danny Barrera and Antoine Hoppenot in an eight-minute span, only for the Hounds to grab a winner with two minutes to go in a 4-3 win. The result kept Hartford 13 points outside the playoff positions with nine games to play, but the hosts will look to finish the season strongly even with the postseason likely out of reach. The Athletic earned a 1-1 draw when it visited El Paso a season ago, a result that Locomotive FC (9-10-5, 32pts) will be hoping to better as it enters the contest in eighth place in the Western Conference but on a 10-game winless streak. El Paso suffered a 3-2 defeat against Indy Eleven last Saturday at Southwest University Park despite twice taking the league as the side fell for a fifth consecutive outing. Los Locos now sit only a point ahead of ninth-place Rio Grande Valley FC in what has become a tense battle for the playoffs in the Western Conference going into the final quarter of the season.

Spotlight Players
Hartford Athletic – Antoine Hoppenot:
The veteran forward came off the bench to score on Wednesday night and should be expected to return to the starting lineup having recorded three goals and three assists so far this campaign.

El Paso Locomotive FC – Noah Dollenmayer: The center back joined Locomotive FC on loan this week from Los Angeles FC and could be in line to immediately make his debut on the back line for the visitors.

Indy Eleven vs. Loudoun United FC

Venue: Michael A. Carroll Stadium
Kickoff: 7 p.m. ET
Broadcast: ESPN+

The Lowdown: Indy Eleven will try to build on a four-game undefeated streak as it looks to solidify its place in the playoff positions in the Eastern Conference against a Loudoun United FC side that desperately needs a win to keep its slim postseason hopes alive. Indy (9-9-8, 35pts) held firm for a 0-0 draw against Memphis 901 FC on Wednesday night despite having Harrison Robledo sent off in the first half for a pair of yellow cards. The result dropped Indy to seventh place in the East behind Birmingham Legion FC, but the side is six points clear of ninth-placed Miami FC as it returns home looking for just its third victory at The Mike this regular season. Loudoun (7-17-3, 24pts) fell 3-1 to Sacramento Republic FC last Saturday at Segra Field as it remained in danger of slipping out of the playoff race with seven games to go, and the visitors will be looking to reverse the result from a 2-1 Indy win when the sides previously met in May as Sebastian Guenzatti was among the goalscorers. Guenzatti now has six goals this season while the hosts could see new loan arrival Harvey Neville also see his first USL Championship action.

Spotlight Players
Indy Eleven – Douglas Martinez Jr.:
The Honduran forward has three goals and three assists this season and has the potential to stretch the field for the hosts with his speed, creating space for its corps of playmakers let by Aodhan Quinn and Solomon Asante.

Loudoun United FC – Kalil ElMedkhar: The 24-year-old has scored in three consecutive games for United and will be looking to continue his streak and lead United to victory in what is essentially a must-win for the visitors.

Miami FC vs. Tampa Bay Rowdies

Venue: Riccardo Silva Stadium
Kickoff: 7 p.m. ET
Broadcast: ESPN+

The Lowdown: The Tampa Bay Rowdies will try to complete a season-sweep of their Florida rival while pursuing top spot in the Eastern Conference in a game that also sees Miami FC in need of victory to boost its playoff chances. Miami (7-10-8, 29pts) took a 3-0 victory against Hartford Athletic in its most recent outing last Saturday as Joaquin Rivas scored a hat trick at Trinity Health Stadium. The hat trick was the first of Rivas’ professional career, and also marked the first time a Miami FC player had notched a hat trick since the club joined the USL Championship. Miami has won four of its last five games overall, which has moved the side level on points with eighth-placed FC Tulsa in the Eastern Conference playoff race with Miami holding a game in hand on its Oklahoma rival. The Rowdies (13-6-5, 44pts) are in second place in the East, meanwhile, after a 2-1 victory against FC Tulsa last Friday night that saw JJ Williams notch a goal and assist and Cal Jennings find the net. Williams is now on 10 goals this season, marking his second consecutive season with double-digit goals, and the visitors will aim to continue to hold the upper hand in this series having taken three consecutive victories across the USL Championship’s regular season and playoffs after a 2-0 win at Al Lang Stadium earlier this season.

Spotlight Players
Miami FC – Florian Valot:
The attacking midfielder will look to be at his sharpest against a solid Rowdies defense having recorded one goal, two assists and 16 chances created in 16 appearances so far this season.

Tampa Bay Rowdies – Cal Jennings: The bright forward was one of the scorers when Tampa Bay took victory earlier this season and is looking for one more to reach double-digit goals so far this campaign.

Charleston Battery vs. Memphis 901 FC

Venue: Patriots Point
Kickoff: 7:30 p.m. ET
Broadcast: ESPN+

The Lowdown: The Charleston Battery and Memphis 901 FC will square off in a top-four showdown in the Eastern Conference that could prove crucial in the playoff race over the final weeks of the regular season. The Battery (17-7-7, 43pts) are looking to rebound after falling 2-0 to Orange County SC last Saturday night at Championship Soccer Stadium a result that left the side in third place in the Eastern Conference. The Battery hold a five-point edge over Memphis going into this contest, but with 901 FC holding two games in hand the hosts will be looking to reverse a 3-2 result when the teams met earlier this season when Beto Avila and Fidel Barajas found the net. Memphis (10-6-8, 38pts) is undefeated in its last four games, meanwhile, after playing to a 0-0 draw against Indy Eleven on Wednesday night. The side came close to breaking the deadlock on a shot by Luiz Fernando that hit the crossbar, but the side has won each of its past two outings on the road, including a 1-0 victory at Orange County SC two weeks ago, that has pushed 901 FC into position to host a playoff game for a second consecutive season.

Spotlight Players
Charleston Battery – Derek Dodson:
The former Memphis player has been one of the Battery’s most consistent performers this campaign, notching two goals and three assists while providing solid defensive cover at right back.

Memphis 901 FC – Rodrigo Da Costa: The Brazilian has scored six goals this season, including what proved to be the game-winner when these sides met for the first time, and will be hoping to add to that tally this time out.

Louisville City FC vs. Oakland Roots SC

Venue: Lynn Family Stadium
Kickoff: 7:30 p.m. ET
Broadcast: ESPN+

The Lowdown: Louisville City FC and Oakland Roots SC will square off for the first time as visiting Roots SC wraps up a two-game week looking for another road victory to continue their push up the Western Conference standings. LouCity (10-8-7, 37pts) is looking to rebound from a 2-0 defeat to Birmingham Legion FC last Saturday that saw the side’s four-game undefeated streak come to an end as the visitors recorded only two shots on target at Protective Stadium. Louisville is now in fifth place in the Eastern Conference, and while it looks certain to return to the postseason for a ninth consecutive campaign, it could finish outside the top four in the East for the first time in its history. Oakland (11-7-7, 40pts) is back on the upswing, meanwhile, as it took a 2-1 victory against New Mexico United on Wednesday night at Isotopes Park behind goals from Anuar Pelaez and Trayvone Reid. Roots SC is sitting in third place in the West with nine games to play in the regular season, on course for its best finish since joining the USL Championship in 2021, and has won four of its last six games overall as it heads to try and deliver another strong road performance this time out.

Spotlight Players
Louisville City FC – Sean Totsch:
The veteran center back conceded a penalty in a subpar performance by his standards in Birmingham and will want to help his side get back in the win column with a strong display here.

Oakland Roots SC – Anuar Pelaez: The Colombian forward has scored in consecutive games while bagging five goals overall this season and will look to add to that run against LouCity.

Rio Grande Valley FC vs. San Diego Loyal SC

Venue: H-E-B Park
Kickoff: 8 p.m. ET
Broadcast: ESPN+

The Lowdown: Rio Grande Valley FC will try to build on a big win last time out as it tries to jump above the playoff line in its second meeting with SD Loyal this season. The Toros (7-8-10, 31pts) took a 1-0 win against Phoenix Rising FC last Saturday night on Juan Galindrez’s third goal of the season, continuing the side’s winning streak at H-E-B Park to four games. RGV FC took a 3-2 victory when it visited SD Loyal earlier this season as Robert Coronado, Christiano Francois and Ricky Ruiz all found the net at Torero Stadium, but the hosts will be without leading scorer Wilmer Cabrera Jr. after the conclusion of his loan from Real Cartagena. SD Loyal (10-7-7, 37pts) will try to shake off dropping points late at home last time out, meanwhile, as the side ended in a 2-2 draw against New Mexico United after twice having taken the lead on home turf. San Diego is now fifth in the West, three points behind both Oakland Roots SC and Orange County SC, but has a game in hand on both as it looks to earn a home playoff game down the final stretch of the season.

Spotlight Players
Rio Grande Valley FC – Juan Galindrez:
The Colombian has notched three goals and two assists in 12 appearances this season and will need to continue to drive the Toros’ attack with Cabrera’s departure.

San Diego Loyal SC – Adrien Perez: The right winger scored when these teams met for the first time this season and has six goals and two assists overall after another stellar outing last Saturday night against New Mexico United.

New Mexico United vs. FC Tulsa

Venue: Isotopes Park
Kickoff: 9 p.m. ET
Broadcast: ESPN+

The Lowdown: New Mexico United and FC Tulsa will each try to half recent slides in form and boost their postseason chances as they meet at Isotopes Park. New Mexico (8-11-5, 29) suffered a 2-0 defeat against Oakland Roots SC on Wednesday night, extending the side’s winless streak to five games, of which four have been defeats. United only sits three points out of the eighth and final playoff berth., however, meaning a repeat of its 2-1 victory at ONEOK Field a season ago that saw Alexis Souahy and Justin Portillo both find the net. Tulsa (7-11-8, 29pts) is also winless in its last five games after falling 3-1 to Birmingham Legion FC on Wednesday night at ONEOK Field. The hosts took an early lead on Phillip Goodrum’s ninth goal of the season, but then saw the advantage slip away as Legion FC’s Neco Brett scored a hat trick to leave Tulsa no longer in control of its playoff destiny with eight games to go in the regular season.

Spotlight Players
New Mexico United – Sergio Rivas:
The attacking midfielder recorded his fifth goal of the season against Oakland and has also notched three assists, making him an essential part of New Mexico’s potential playoff bid.

FC Tulsa – Rashid Tetteh: The veteran center back spent four seasons with New Mexico and will now return to Isotopes Park looking to put in a strong display against his former club having recorded 62 clearances and 27 interceptions this season.

San Antonio FC vs. Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC

Venue: Toyota Field
Kickoff: 9 p.m. ET
Broadcast: ESPN+

The Lowdown: San Antonio FC and Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC will square off with both sides in contention to claim the Players’ Shield at the end of the regular season and to claim homefield advantage throughout the 2023 USL Championship Playoffs. San Antonio (13-4-8, 47pts) was held to a 0-0 draw by Monterey Bay F.C. last Saturday night in a result that dropped the side into second place in the Western Conference. The hosts can move closer to clinching a fourth consecutive postseason berth with a repeat of a late 1-0 victory on a goal by Carter Manley when it visited the Hounds a season ago. The Hounds (14-5-8, 50pts) head to Texas after a wild 4-3 victory against Hartford Athletic on Wednesday night that saw Albert Dikwa score twice to move level with SAFC’s Tani Oluwaseyi in the race for the Championship’s Golden Boot on 14 tallies, and Juan Carlos Obregon Jr. net an 88th-minute winner against his former club after Hartford had rallied to tie the game with three goals in the final 15 minutes. The first team to reach 50 points in the league this season, Pittsburgh can clinch a playoff berth this weekend should it take victory against San Antonio and see both FC Tulsa and Detroit City FC fail to earn victories in their respective contests. In what could be a preview of the 2023 USL Championship Final, however, there will be little margin for error for both sides.

Spotlight Players
San Antonio FC – Carter Manley:
The veteran defender provided the game-winner with four minutes to go when these teams last met, and he has been solid this season in limited action on the back line.

Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC – Albert Dikwa: The powerful forward will put his talents to the test against SAFC’s impressive defensive corps as he looks to move into the league in the race for the Championship’ Golden Boot.

Monterey Bay F.C. vs. Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC

Venue: Cardinale Stadium
Kickoff: 10 p.m. ET
Broadcast: ESPN+

The Lowdown: Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC will try to build on a three-game undefeated streak as it returns to Northern California to face Monterey Bay F.C. after romping to victory when the teams last met. Monterey Bay (7-11-7, 28pts) earned a 0-0 draw on the road against San Antonio FC last Saturday to add a valuable point to its playoff pursuit, but the side returns home looking to both break a nine-game winless streak and reverse a 4-0 defeat to the Switchbacks when the sides met at Weidner Field in May. Colorado Springs (11-11-3, 36pts) took another impressive win last time out as Tyreek Magee scored his first two goals for the club in a 3-2 win against Oakland Roots SC, a result that moved the side into sixth place in the West and five points clear of the teams below the playoff line. With four away wins this season so far, the Switchbacks will be looking to add to that solid run of form and deal another blow to Monterey Bay’s playoff aspirations.

Spotlight Players
Monterey Bay F.C. – Rafael Baca:
The experienced central midfielder has completed 84 percent of his passes in three appearances since signing with MBFC this month and will need to try and help the hosts find more cutting edge in the attacking third.

Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC – Romario Williams: The Jamaican forward’s last goal came in Colorado Springs’ 4-0 win against Monterey Bay. Sitting only one goal from 50 regular season tallies for his career this would be an ideal time to reach that landmark.

Las Vegas Lights FC vs. Phoenix Rising FC

Venue: Cashman Field
Kickoff: 10:30 p.m. ET
Broadcast: ESPN+

The Lowdown: Phoenix Rising FC will try to avenge its home defeat earlier this season to Las Vegas Lights FC in a game that could be essential to the playoff chances for the visitors to Cashman Field. Lights FC (2-14-8, 14pts) suffered a 1-0 defeat to Detroit City FC last Saturday night to remain in last place in the Western Conference, and then on Tuesday announced it had transferred leading goalscorer Tabort Etaka Preston to fellow Championship club Birmingham Legion FC. Las Vegas took a 1-0 win when it visited Phoenix earlier this season with the now-departed Erick “Cubo” Torres scoring the only goal, but after consecutive defeats the side will hope to rebound back on home turf in series that has developed some animosity between the sides. Rising FC (9-10-5, 32pts) continued its pattern of showing a step forward immediately followed by a step back in a 1-0 defeat to Rio Grande Valley FC that left the side only one point ahead of the ninth-place Toros in the playoff picture. The side has now alternated wins and losses in its last five games, and is winless in its last four games against Lights FC overall, a run it will need to end to regain momentum for the final stretch of the regular season.

Spotlight Players
Las Vegas Lights FC – Andrew Carleton:
The former U.S. youth international has notched two goals and one assist this season while recording 37 chances created, and will need to provide an attacking spark for the hosts with Preston’s departure.

Phoenix Rising FC – Danny Trejo: A standout for Lights FC over the past two seasons, Trejo was held to three shots when he squared off with his former side in May and needs to make a big impression in his return to Cashman Field.

Sacramento Republic FC vs. Orange County SC

Venue: Hughes Stadium
Kickoff: 10:30 p.m. ET
Broadcast: ESPN+

The Lowdown: Sacramento Republic FC will make a return to Hughes Stadium to celebrate its 10th anniversary season as it hosts an Orange County SC side on a lengthy winning streak as it arrives to face its longtime rival. Republic FC (13-3-9, 48pts) returns home after a 3-1 win against Loudoun United FC last Saturday night that saw Zeiko Lewis and Luther Archimede find the net to return the side to first place in the Western Conference. Sacramento is a point ahead of San Antonio FC with nine games to go in the season, but will face one of only three teams to defeat it in the league this season as it squares off with Orange County for the 25th time in the regular season. OCSC (12-9-4, 40pts) took a 1-0 win in May as leading scorer Milan Iloski scored in the fifth minute, but the younger Iloski brother will not be available for selection on Saturday as he serves a one-game suspension for caution accumulation. Brother Brian Iloski was on target last time out, however, as Orange County took a 2-0 win against the Charleston Battery that ran the side’s winning streak to six games, equaling a club record. Should OCSC take victory on Saturday, it would match the longest winning streak in the Championship this season and keep the club in contention for a top-four finish.

Spotlight Players
Sacramento Republic FC – Cristian Parano:
The new arrival notched an assist on his debut after coming on as a second-half substitute and could be in line for more action against a solid defensive unit.

Orange County SC – Thomas Amang: The veteran forward has notched five goals and two assists this season while providing impressive hold-up play. He could need to step up in Milan Iloski’s absence in the final third.

Follow the USL Championship

Most Recent News

Most Read News

Latest Videos