Approaching 100 saves this regular season, Oakland Roots SC's Paul Blanchette is having a standout season between the sticks for his club. | Photo courtesy Darren Abate / San Antonio FC
Oakland Roots SC’s Paul Blanchette has already smashed his own individual single-season saves mark.
Now he could be on course for one of the biggest goalkeeping seasons in the USL Championship’s history.
In this week’s USL Championship News & Notes, we look at the pace Roots SC’s shot-stopper has set in leading the league in saves this campaign, and where he could land by the end of the regular season.
Plus, we have an update on where Birmingham Legion FC’s Neco Brett sits in two major all-time categories after the past seven days, and the company Orange County SC’s Juan Santana keeps all-time among the youngest goalkeepers to record a shutout in the USL Championship’s regular season.
All of that, plus the regular look at upcoming individual milestones for players across the league, and the Week 26 Discipline Report ahead of this week’s action.
Let’s dig in.
PAUL “THE WALL” BLANCHETTE ON TOP-FIVE PACE
Oakland Roots SC goalkeeper Paul Blanchette had a busy two-game Week 25 as he recorded 13 saves across two games to move to a league-high 96 saves this regular season. The 29-year-old’s eight-save performance against Louisville City FC was his second-highest single-game total this season, having notched a nine-save outing against Detroit City FC on July 29.
Blanchette has played every minute of the season for Roots SC, and with eight games to play is on pace to record one of the highest single-season saves totals in the USL Championship’s history. Should his pace of an average of 3.69 saves per game continue, Blanchette could reach 126 saves in the regular season, which would rank second all-time.
Most Saves in a USL Championship Regular Season
1. Carl Woszczynski, Phoenix Rising FC – 130 saves, 2015
T-2. Fabian Cerda, FC Tulsa – 125 saves, 2018
T-2. Alex Rando, Las Vegas Lights FC – 125 saves, 2021
4. Josh Cohen, Sacramento Republic FC – 117 saves, 2018
T-5. Ben Lundt, Phoenix Rising FC – 115 saves, 2022
T-5. Matt Williams, Dayton Dutch Lions FC – 115 saves, 2012
NECO BRETT MOVES INTO TIE FOR SECOND IN GOALSCORING LIST
Birmingham Legion FC’s Neco Brett joined former USL Championship Golden Boot winners Hadji Barry and Cameron Lancaster in a tie for second in the league’s all-time regular season goalscoring list as his four goals in Week 25 – which earned the Jamaican his second Player of the Week award of the season – moved him to 79 regular season goals in his career.
Most Regular Season Goals in USL Championship History
1. Dane Kelly – 106
T-2. Hadji Barry – 79
T-2. Cameron Lancaster – 79*
T-2. Neco Brett – 79*
5. Corey Hertzog – 74
* - active player
Brett is Legion FC’s all-time leader in goals with 37 tallies in the club’s colors in the regular season. Against FC Tulsa last Wednesday he became the second player to record a hat trick for the club, joining former teammate Bruno Lapa. It was also the third hat trick in Brett’s regular season career in the Championship, having notched two for Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC, moving him into a tie for second all-time for the most hat tricks in league history.
Most Regular Season Hat Tricks in USL Championship History
1. Dane Kelly – 4
T-2. Matt Fondy – 3
T-2. Neco Brett – 3*
T-2. Tani Oluwaseyi – 3*
5. – 14 players tied with 2
* - active player
ORANGE COUNTY SC’S JUAN SANTANA SETS RECORD WITH DEBUT SHUTOUT
Orange County SC’s Juan Santana recorded a three-save shutout in his USL Championship debut on Saturday night in the side’s 2-0 victory against Sacramento Republic FC before a season-high crowd of 20,231 fans at Hughes Stadium. In doing so, Santana became the youngest goalkeeper in the Championship’s regular season history to record a shutout in his debut, doing so aged 18 years, 4 months and 21 days old.
Overall, Santana ranks ninth among the youngest goalkeepers to record a shutout in the USL Championship’s regular season. He is the second-youngest to do so this season after San Diego Loyal SC’s Duran Ferree, who set a new mark for the youngest goalkeeper to record a shutout in a regular season game in April.
Youngest Goalkeeper to Record Regular Season Shutout in USL Championship History
1. Duran Ferree (SD) – 16 years, 6 months, 27 days
2. Jeff Dewsnup (SLC) – 17 years, 2 months, 17 days
3. Aaron Cervantes (OC) – 17 years, 4 months
4. Saif Kerawala (TAC) – 18 years, 1 month, 2 days
5. Abraham Rodriguez (COS) – 18 years, 1 month, 8 days
6. David Ochoa (SLC) – 18 years, 2 months
7. Brooks Thompson (SKC) – 18 years, 2 months, 5 days
8. Eric Lopez (LA) – 18 years, 3 months, 13 days
9. Juan Santana (OC) – 18 years, 4 months, 21 days
10. John Pulskamp (SKC) – 18 years, 4 months, 26 days
- Orange County SC set a club record with its seventh consecutive victory on Saturday, earning a 2-0 win against Sacramento Republic FC at Hughes Stadium. OCSC has equaled the longest winning streak of the season, previously recorded by El Paso Locomotive FC between April 8 and June 3. The run is tied for the sixth-longest overall in USL Championship regular season history.
- Oscar Jimenez’s game-winning goal for Louisville City FC against Oakland Roots SC on Saturday night marked the latest a goal has been scored in the USL Championship this season. Jimenez’s goal was officially marked at the 97:55 mark of the game.
- New Mexico United’s Alex Tambakis became the USL Championship’s all-time leader in regular season minutes among goalkeepers on Saturday night as he moved to 16,907 minutes in the league’s regular season, surpassing former USL Championship Golden Glove and All-League selection Evan Newton (16,876).
- Indy Eleven’s Aodhan Quinn became the sixth player in USL Championship history to reach 250 regular season appearances in Saturday’s game against Loudoun United FC. The Championship’s all-time leader in regular season minutes is the fourth player to reach the landmark this season.
- Indy Eleven’s 2-1 victory against Loudoun United FC on Saturday was the first time the Boys in Blue had rallied to win from a halftime deficit at Michael A. Carroll Stadium since a 3-1 win against Orange County SC on April 24, 2022.
Phoenix Rising FC's Jose Hernandez could make his 150th regular season appearance in the USL Championship on Wednesday night against Sacramento Republic FC. | Photo courtesy Matt May / Tampa Bay Rowdies
Approaching 250 regular-season appearances
Paolo DelPiccolo (LOU) – 248
Approaching 150 regular-season appearances
Mark Segbers (MIA) – 149
Jose Hernandez (PHX) – 149
Chris Wehan (NM) – 148
Kyle Adams (LOU) – 146
Approaching 100 regular-season appearances
Yuma (ELP) – 99
Eric Calvillo (ELP) – 99
Jared Timmer (SAC) – 99
Florian Valot (MIA) – 99
Christian Sorto (MIA) – 99
Fabien Garcia (SA) – 99
Approaching 15,000 regular season minutes
Joe Farrell (PIT) – 14,934
Antoine Hoppenot (HFD) – 14,740
Approaching 10,000 regular season minutes
Adrian Diz Pe (IND) – 9,988
Cam Lindley (IND) – 9,955
Tyler Pasher (BHM) – 9,875
Jose Hernandez (PHX) – 9,688
Approaching 50 regular season goals
Romario Williams (COS) – 49
Lucky Mkosana (TBR) – 48
Approaching 30 regular season assists
Charlie Adams (SD) – 28
Niall McCabe (LOU) – 27
Rodrigo Da Costa (MEM) – 27
Approaching 400 regular season saves
Matt VanOekel (BHM) – 376
Approaching 350 regular season saves
Connor Sparrow (TBR) – 333
Approaching 200 regular season saves
Tyler Deric (RGV) – 191
Jake McGuire (MIA) – 188
Kyle Morton (LOU) – 187
Adrian Zendejas (MIA) – 186
Approaching 40 regular-season shutouts
Connor Sparrow (TBR) – 38
Approaching 30 regular-season shutouts
Joe Kuzminsky (COS) – 29
Danny Vitiello (SAC) – 29
TAMPA, Fla. – The following is the USL Championship’s discipline report for Week 26 of the 2023 USL Championship season:
Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC’s James Musa has been suspended for one game following his red card for denial of a goalscoring opportunity against Monterey Bay F.C. on August 26. Musa will be unavailable for selection in Colorado Springs’ contest against Louisville City FC on Saturday night.
Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC’s Maalique Foster has been suspended for one game following his red card for two cautionable offenses against Monterey Bay F.C. on August 26. Foster will be unavailable for selection in Colorado Springs’ contest against Louisville City FC on Saturday night.
Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC’s Jonas Fjeldberg has been suspended for one game following his red card for two cautionable offenses against Monterey Bay F.C. on August 26. Fjeldberg will be unavailable for selection in Colorado Springs’ contest against Louisville City FC on Saturday night.
Loudoun United FC’s Houssou Landry has been suspended for two games for caution accumulation after receiving his 11th yellow card of the season against Indy Eleven on August 26. Landry will be unavailable for selection in Loudoun’s contests against Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC on September 9 and the Charleston Battery on September 16.
Indy Eleven’s Harrison Robledo was suspended for one game following his red card for violent conduct against Memphis 901 FC on August 23. Robledo served his suspension during Indy’s contest against Loudoun United FC on August 26.
Indy Eleven’s Callum Chapman-Page was suspended for one game for caution accumulation after receiving his eighth yellow card of the season against Memphis 901 FC on August 23. Chapman-Page served his suspension during Indy’s contest against Loudoun United FC on August 26.
Las Vegas Lights FC Head Coach Isidro Sanchez is no longer on caution accumulation warning having had one caution removed under the USL’s Good Behavior incentive to place him on six cautions for the season.
San Antonio FC’s Mitchell Taintor is no longer on caution accumulation warning having had one caution removed under the USL’s Good Behavior incentive to place him on six cautions for the season.
The following players enter the upcoming matches one caution away from a one-game yellow card accumulation suspension for their eighth yellow card of the season. Here is the breakdown per club:
Birmingham Legion FC (1) – Anderson Asiedu
Charleston Battery (1) – Nick Markanich
El Paso Locomotive FC (1) – Eder Borelli
Hartford Athletic (1) – Antoine Hoppenot
Indy Eleven (2) – Younes Boudadi, Douglas Martinez Jr.
Las Vegas Lights FC (2) – Jacob Bushue, Andres Jimenez
Monterey Bay F.C. (1) – Mobi Fehr
New Mexico United (2) – Sergio Rivas, Will Seymore
Orange County SC (1) – Kyle Scott
San Diego Loyal SC (1) – Collin Martin
The following players enter the upcoming matches one caution away from a two-game yellow card accumulation suspension for their 11th yellow card of the season. Here is the breakdown per club:
Sacramento Republic FC (1): Arnold Lopez
San Antonio FC (1): Lamar Batista
Tag(s): Features San Antonio FC CO Spring Switchbacks Orange County SC Phoenix Rising FC Rio Grande Valley FC Sacramento Republic FC FC Tulsa 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 Oakland Roots SC Detroit City FC Monterey Bay F.C.