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Gameday Previews – Saturday, September 16

By Staff, 09/15/23, 3:40PM EDT


San Antonio, Tampa Bay square off for first time since 2017, while four side can clinch playoff berths

San Antonio FC will look for a turnaround in form as it plays host to the Tampa Bay Rowdies for the first meeting between the sides since 2017 on Saturday night. | Photo courtesy Darren Abate / San Antonio FC

One of the top interconference clashes of the season highlights a nine-game slate of action on Saturday night in the USL Championship as San Antonio FC and the Tampa Bay Rowdies square off for the first time in six years in a key game in the race for the Players’ Shield.

San Antonio could clinch a playoff berth with a win, while three other teams will also have a chance to earn their place in the postseason, including Western Conference leader Sacramento Republic FC as it returns to face El Paso Locomotive FC at Heart Health Park.

Here's a look ahead at all the action.

Loudoun United FC vs. Charleston Battery

Venue: Segra Field
Kickoff: 7 p.m. ET
Broadcast: ESPN+

The Lowdown: The Charleston Battery will look to add to a three-game winning streak, and maintain their undefeated streak against Loudoun United FC, when the sides clash for the second time this season at Segra Field. Loudoun (7-19-3, 24pts) returns to action looking to break a three-game losing run that saw the side fall 3-1 to Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC last Saturday night. Kalil ElMedkhar produced an outstanding second-half finish for the side in the performance, giving him seven goals to go with four assists this season, but the result left United on the verge of mathematical elimination from playoff contention. The Battery (15-7-7, 52pts) on the other hand secured their postseason berth last Saturday with a 2-0 victory against San Diego Loyal SC as Tristan Trager scored both goals at Patriots Point. Charleston is now two points behind Pittsburgh for the Eastern Conference lead with five games to go in its regular season and holds a 10-point lead on fifth-placed Memphis 901 FC as it looks to host its first postseason game since the 2018 season this campaign. The Battery took a 3-0 win against Loudoun on home turf earlier this season as Nick Markanich scored twice at Patriots Point, extending a seven-game undefeated streak in the series between the clubs. With Loudoun winless in its last four home outings, and the Battery boasting the most away points in the league this season, Charleston will be aiming to continue that run this time out.

Spotlight Players
Loudoun United FC – Hugo Fauroux:
The former Battery goalkeeper has made 15 appearances this season, splitting time in net with Dane Jacomen, and could get the call to try and stymie his former club this time out.

Charleston Battery – Juan Sebastian Palma: The Colombian defender has been in a solid run of form during the Battery’s current winning streak during which the side has recorded three consecutive shutouts.

Miami FC vs. Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC

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

The Lowdown: Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC will look to maintain its place atop the Eastern Conference standings as it heads to face a Miami FC side that is facing a must-win to stay in postseason contention after suffering a third consecutive defeat last time out. Miami (7-13-8, 29pts) fell 2-1 to Detroit City FC last Saturday at Keyworth Stadium as a 75th-minute goal by Claudio Repetto wasn’t enough to spark a comeback. The side is now five points behind DCFC for eighth place in the East with six games remaining, putting the pressure on to make a run to earn a third consecutive postseason berth. The Hounds (15-5-9, 54pts) earned a 3-1 victory against Loudoun United FC last Saturday, meanwhile, as Albert Dikwa scored a pair of goals to keep the side in first place in the East. Dikwa’s brace moved him into the league-lead with 16 goals this season, continuing a career season for the Cameroonian, while Kenardo Forbes leads the side with seven assists this campaign, two off the league lead, as the Hounds continue to compile another sterling regular season.

Spotlight Players
Miami FC – Ryan Telfer:
The Trinidad and Tobago international is set to return this weekend after starring in a pair of victories for the Soca Warriors in Concacaf Nations League play this week that saw him named to the League A Best XI on Wednesday.

Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC – Albert Dikwa: The Golden Boot leader has scored the opening goal of the game on 10 occasions this season and will look to continue his bid for individual glory while helping the Hounds to another win.

Louisville City FC vs. San Diego Loyal SC

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

The Lowdown: Louisville City FC and San Diego Loyal SC are both aiming to rebound from setbacks last time out as they square off for the third time with a playoff berth within reach for the hosts with a victory. LouCity (12-9-7, 43pts) fell 2-1 to rival the Tampa Bay Rowdies last Saturday night at Al Lang Stadium despite a fine strike by Wilson Harris for the young forward’s sixth goal of the season, but remained in fourth place in the Eastern Conference with six games to go in the campaign. LouCity could clinch a playoff berth against San Diego should it take victory and see both FC Tulsa and Miami FC fail to take victory in their respective games on Saturday night. The hosts will be hoping to emulate the 5-2 victory it recorded a season ago at Torero Stadium when it last faced its Western Conference foe, which saw five different players find the net for the side. SD Loyal (12-8-7, 43pts) also fell last Saturday in a 2-0 defeat to the Charleston Battery that ended a three-game undefeated streak to the side, but it too remained in fourth place in the West with a game in hand on its rivals for a home playoff opener. The defeat to Charleston marked only the fourth time San Diego had been held scoreless in the league this season, and with a strong attacking group the visitors will be eager to rebound against as LouCity side that is tied for second in the league with 11 shutouts this campaign.

Spotlight Players
Louisville City FC – Sean Totsch:
The veteran center back was among the scorers for LouCity last season in San Diego and has put together another solid individual campaign, but will need to be at his best against a talented SD Loyal attack.

San Diego Loyal SC – Evan Conway: SD Loyal’s leading scorer this season with 10 goals has been held without a goal or assist in the past five games, a run that he will be aiming to break as the side faces a second consecutive trip East.

Memphis 901 FC vs. Hartford Athletic

Venue: AutoZone Park
Kickoff: 8 p.m. ET
Broadcast: ESPN+

The Lowdown: Memphis 901 FC will try to rebound from a setback last time out with the prospect of potentially clinching a third consecutive trip to the playoffs as it plays host to last-placed Hartford Athletic at AutoZone Park. Memphis (11-8-9, 42pts) missed out on a chance to return to the top four in the Eastern Conference last Saturday night as it fell 1-0 to Monterey Bay F.C. despite taking a season-high 27 shots in the contest. The result left the side with only one win in its last five games, but the path is open for 901 FC to earn a playoff berth if it can repeat its 2-0 victory against Hartford earlier this season that saw Laurent Kissiedou and Rashawn Dally find the net should FC Tulsa lose to Oakland Roots SC and Miami FC fail to take victory against Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC elsewhere on Saturday night. The Athletic (4-19-4, 16pts) return to action after their contest last Saturday night against Rio Grande Valley was postponed due to heavy thunderstorms at Trinity Health Stadium. With the side on the verge of playoff elimination, Hartford will try to claim victory against Memphis for the first time in its history, with 901 FC having won four of their five prior meetings.

Spotlight Players
Memphis 901 FC – Leston Paul:
The Trinidad and Tobago veteran is poised to become the first player in 901 FC history to make 100 regular season appearances in the USL Championship, standing as the lone remaining player from its inaugural 2019 campaign.

Hartford Athletic – Niall Logue: The Northern Irish center back has started each of the past two games for the Athletic after returning from injury and will look to put in a good performance in familiar surroundings having competed for Memphis a season ago.

San Antonio FC vs. Tampa Bay Rowdies

Venue: Toyota Field
Kickoff: 8:30 p.m. ET
Broadcast: ESPN+

The Lowdown: San Antonio FC and the Tampa Bay Rowdies will square off for the first time since the 2017 season in a potential preview of the 2023 USL Championship Final with both teams entering the weekend in second place in their respective conferences. San Antonio (13-5-11, 50pts) played to a 1-1 draw last Saturday night against Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC as Santiago Patiño opened the scoring at Weidner Field before the hosts struck back late to level. The result left SAFC winless in its past five league games as it missed out on a chance to jump past Sacramento Republic FC for first place in the Western Conference, but the defending Championship title holders could secure a postseason berth on Saturday. Should San Antonio take victory, it would clinch a playoff berth should either Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC fail to take victory against Orange County SC on Friday night, or Monterey Bay F.C. fail to take victory against Las Vegas Lights FC on Saturday. The Rowdies (16-7-5, 53pts) have already booked their postseason berth, and earned a 2-1 victory against Louisville City FC in its last outing as Cal Jennings scored both goals at Al Lang Stadium to continue a scorching run of form. Jennings has scored six goals in the past five games, equaling the longest scoring streak for the Rowdies since they joined the USL Championship in 2017, helping keep Tampa Bay a point behind first-placed Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC with a game in hand. After honors ended even when the teams last met in 2017 at Toyota Field thanks to a late Ever Guzman goal for San Antonio, both sides will be eager to claim all three points in their push for playoff seeding at the top of their respective conferences.

Spotlight Players
San Antonio FC – Jorge Hernandez:
The attacking playmaker recorded his league-leading ninth assist of the season against Colorado Springs, moving to 20 regular season assists in his career in the league.

Tampa Bay Rowdies – Charlie Dennis: The English midfielder has recorded 10 goals this season and sits third in the league with 54 chances created, and his deliveries from set pieces could be key for the visitors.

Monterey Bay F.C. vs. Las Vegas Lights FC

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

The Lowdown: Monterey Bay F.C. will try to build on a three-game winning streak as it returns home looking to continue its playoff push against Las Vegas Lights FC. Monterey Bay (10-11-7, 37pts) took a 1-0 victory against Memphis 901 FC last Saturday night as Alex Dixon recorded his team-leading 11th goal of the season and goalkeeper Carlos Herrera posted a seven-save shutout at AutoZone Park. The result briefly moved MBFC above the playoff line in the Western Conference, with the side entering the weekend in ninth place, level on points with Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC. The side took a 2-1 victory against Lights FC previously this season as goals by Morey Doner and Sam Gleadle earned victory at Cashman Field in June and will look for another positive result against a Lights FC side relegated to playing a spoiler role after its elimination from playoff contention last week. Las Vegas (3-17-9, 18pts) suffered a 1-0 defeat on Wednesday night to El Paso Locomotive FC as it failed to record a shot on target for the third time this season. Lights FC has shown the ability to offer a scare to teams above it in the standings previously this year, however, and Monterey Bay will be wise to caution against complacency and a result that could stall their playoff push.

Spotlight Players
Monterey Bay F.C. – Rafael Baca:
The Mexican veteran has continued to look sharp in the center of midfield since his debut last month, completing 86 percent of his passes and notching six chances created in six appearances.

Las Vegas Lights FC – Marcelo Lage: The center back found the net for his side when it last faced Monterey Bay and will be aiming to put together a strong defensive display against a side that is strong in attacking transitions.

Oakland Roots SC vs. FC Tulsa

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

The Lowdown: Oakland Roots SC returns home aiming to break a three-game losing streak as it faces an FC Tulsa that is undefeated in its past two outings in league play for the first time in their histories. Roots SC (11-10-7, 40pts) suffered a 3-1 defeat to Las Vegas Lights FC last Saturday night as the hosts rallied with three second-half goals at Cashman Field after Johnny Rodriguez had opened the scoring for Oakland in the first half. The result kept Roots SC in sixth position in the Western Conference, with the side now just three points above the playoff line with six games to go in the regular season. The hosts should be boosted by the return of Bryan Tamacas and Neveal Hackshaw from international duty, however, as it begins a run of three consecutive home games against Tulsa (8-12-9, 33pts), which is coming off a scoreless draw against Phoenix Rising FC last Saturday night at ONEOK Field. The result moved Tulsa into ninth place in the Eastern Conference standings, one point behind Detroit City FC, and with Le Rouge holding a game in hand the visitors will feel the need to earn a victory on the road here to keep the pressure on their rival for the last playoff berth in the East. With only two away wins so far this season, the time is now for Tulsa to deliver a road result against an Oakland side facing its own playoff pressure.

Spotlight Players
Oakland Roots SC – Bryan Tamacas:
The El Salvador international has been instrumental to Oakland’s success this season and his likely return to the lineup should provide a major boost both in attack and defense on the right side.

FC Tulsa – Phillip Goodrum: The exciting forward has notched a team-high nine goals this season but has been held off the scoresheet in the past three games, making a return to scoring form a must for the visitors in their playoff pursuit.

Sacramento Republic FC vs. El Paso Locomotive FC

Venue: Heart Health Park
Kickoff: 10 p.m. ET
Broadcast: ESPN+

The Lowdown: Sacramento Republic FC will look to lock up its postseason berth on Saturday night as it returns to action against El Paso Locomotive FC, which heads to Northern California after a confidence-boosting midweek win last time out. Republic FC (14-5-9, 51pts) returns to action still in first place in the Western Conference after a 1-0 victory against Oakland Roots SC in its most recent outing on September 2 that saw goalkeeper Carlos Saldana record a six-save shutout to allow Sebastian Herrera’s early penalty kick to stand as the winner. Republic FC would move clear of both El Paso and New Mexico United, securing a postseason spot, should it complete a season sweep of Locomotive FC, with Russell Cicerone’s goal having earned Sacramento a 1-0 victory on the opening weekend of the season at Southwest University Park when the sides first met this campaign. El Paso (11-11-6, 39pts) is looking to solidify its bid to return to the playoffs, however, after taking a 1-0 win against Las Vegas Lights FC on Wednesday night at Cashman Field that moved the side into seventh place in the West. With two wins and a draw in its last three road outings, Locomotive FC will try to challenge Sacramento’s impressive home record this season, which has seen Republic FC earn eight wins and lose just twice in 13 home games this campaign.

Spotlight Players
Sacramento Republic FC – Russell Cicerone:
Sacramento’s leading goalscorer is now three goals off the lead for the league’s Golden Boot with 13 tallies this season and will be hoping to notch his first goal contribution since August 6 against Monterey Bay F.C. this time out.

El Paso Locomotive FC – Miles Lyons: The 20-year-old right back recorded his first professional goal against Las Vegas but will need to step up defensively against a dynamic Sacramento attack if the visitors are to earn a result.

Phoenix Rising FC vs. Detroit City FC

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

The Lowdown: Phoenix Rising FC will look to continue a three-game home winning streak as it welcomes Detroit City FC for the first league meeting between the clubs, with Le Rouge in their best form of the season as they head west. Rising FC (11-8-9, 42pts) played to a scoreless draw on the road against FC Tulsa last Saturday night to remain in fifth place in the Western Conference standings, but the side has been impressive at home of late as it moves toward a return to the postseason. Phoenix’s three consecutive home wins have seen the side score nine goals while conceding just once as Danny Trejo (15 goals) and Manuel Arteaga (14 goals) have helped drive the club’s attack. The hosts will have to contend with a solid defensive unit in Detroit City (9-12-7, 34pts), which has conceded only 28 goals in 28 games this season, tied for third-fewest goals allowed in the league so far this season. Le Rouge earned a 2-1 win against Miami FC last Saturday as Devon Amoo-Mensah scored for the second consecutive game after Michael Bryant opened the scoring early at Keyworth Stadium. The side has now taken 10 points from its last four games to move into eighth place in the Eastern Conference, but with FC Tulsa only a point behind the pressure will remain on for the visitors to continue their positive form on the road.

Spotlight Players
Phoenix Rising FC – Danny Trejo:
Part of Rising FC's standout attacking duo, Trejo was named the Championship’s Player of the Month for August this week and will look to add to his 15 goals and five assists this season.

Detroit City FC – Brett Levis: The left-sided Canadian veteran notched his first two assists for Le Rouge in their victory against Miami and will be looking for another strong performance after a solid campaign so far.

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