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Rising FC delivers extra time drama as USL Championship Conference Final matchups set

By Staff, 10/29/23, 1:30AM EDT


Phoenix to visit Sacramento Republic FC, Charleston Battery to host Louisville City FC next Saturday night

TAMPA, Fla. – Phoenix Rising FC advanced in extra time for a second consecutive round on a weekend in the 2023 USL Championship Playoffs where the hosts held the upper hand overall, with Sacramento Republic FC set to host Rising FC in the Western Conference Final and the Charleston Battery set to host Louisville City FC in the Eastern Conference Final next Saturday night after all three previous title winners took home victories to continue their pursuit of silverware.

After a late game-winner by Dariusz Formella earned Rising FC victory at San Diego Loyal SC in extra time in the opening weekend of the postseason, Emil Cuello delivered the telling strike in the 116th minute against Orange County SC. Cuello and his Rising FC teammates will now face his former club Sacramento in the Western Conference Final on Saturday night (10 p.m. ET | ESPN+), which eliminated defending title holder San Antonio FC with a 3-1 victory.

The Charleston Battery’s remarkable season continued, meanwhile, as Derek Dodson scored the winner in his side’s 2-1 victory against Birmingham Legion FC to earn the Battery a clash with Louisville City FC next Saturday at Patriots Point (7:30 p.m. ET | ESPN+). LouCity scored its biggest win of the season so far, defeating Detroit City FC 4-0 to reach the Eastern Conference Final for a ninth consecutive postseason.


Eastern Conference Semifinals
No. 3 Charleston Battery 2, No. 7 Birmingham Legion FC 1

Derek Dodson’s redirection of a shot by Nick Markanich sent the Charleston Battery into the last four in the USL Championship Playoffs for the first time since 2013. The Battery took the lead in the 17th minute when Emilio Ycaza scored his second goal in as many postseason games off Fidel Barajas’ 11th assist of the campaign, but Legion FC hit back four minutes before halftime as Prosper Kasim headed home a cross by Tyler Pasher. Charleston regained the lead in the 68th minute, however, as a recycled corner kick took a kind carom into the path of Markanich, whose shot clipped Dodson inside the six-yard area to find the back of the net and sent the Battery on.

Full Recap & Highlights | Box Score

No. 5 Louisville City FC 4, No. 8 Detroit City FC 0

Cameron Lancaster had two goals and one assist while Brian Ownby had one goal and one assist as Louisville City FC produced its biggest win of the season to advance to the Eastern Conference Final for the ninth consecutive season. Lancaster opened the scoring from the penalty spot after Ownby had been brought down in the penalty area in the 15th minute, and Ownby added a second two minutes before halftime off a corner kick. The two combined as Lancaster scored his second of the night on a close-range header in the 59th minute before Jorge Gonzalez capped the scoring a minute later off Lancaster’s assist.

Full Recap & Highlights | Box Score

Western Conference Semifinals
No. 1 Sacramento Republic FC 3, No. 4 San Antonio FC 1

Damia Viader and Nick Ross each recorded a goal and assist as Sacramento Republic FC ended San Antonio FC’s reign as USL Championship title holders before 10,619 fans at Heart Health Park. With the game scoreless at halftime, Sacramento took the lead four minutes after the break as a short corner saw Viader set up Russell Cicerone for his 16th goal of the season. Ross added a second with just over 20 minutes to go, and then provided the pass for Viader to surge forward and seal the victory in the 80th minute as the Spaniard made a major impact as a halftime substitute. San Antonio pulled back a late consolation through Tani Oluwaseyi, but there was no serious threat to Sacramento’s upper hand.

Full Recap & Highlights | Box Score

No. 6 Phoenix Rising FC 2, No. 2 Orange County SC 1 AET

Emil Cuello scored in the 116th minute as Phoenix Rising FC took victory against Orange County SC at Championship Soccer Stadium, recording its second consecutive road upset in extra time this postseason. Rising FC made an ideal start as Danny Trejo scored his second goal of the postseason in the seventh minute, but Orange County hit back through Thomas Amang midway through the first half in which the hosts held the upper hand. After a scoreless second half, however, Cuello came through with a powerful finish from the left side of the penalty area to send Phoenix into the Western Conference Final for the first time since 2020.

Full Recap & Highlights | Box Score

2023 USL Championship Playoffs
Eastern Conference Final
Saturday, November 4

No. 3 Charleston Battery vs. No. 5 Louisville City FC, 7:30 p.m. ET

Western Conference Final
Saturday, November 4

No. 1 Sacramento Republic FC vs. No. 6 Phoenix Rising FC, 10 p.m. ET

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