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The Weekend: An explosive rivalry, high-profile feud & historic doubleheader

By NICHOLAS MURRAY - nicholas.murray@uslsoccer.com, 06/13/24, 4:00PM EDT

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Here’s your guide for the USL Championship’s upcoming 10-game slate over the next three nights

We’ve got a three-day weekend in the USL Championship on tap with action on Friday night and Sunday evening wrapped around an eight-game slate on Saturday in Week 15 of the campaign.

Here are three top storylines to know going in, and what else we’re keeping an eye on. Here’s where to watch all the action.

1. REPUBLIC FC, ROOTS RIVALRY RENEWS

Sacramento Republic FC and Oakland Roots SC collide for the first time this season to wrap up Saturday night’s slate, and it’s fair to say there’s little love lost between the two sides in the history they’ve built over three seasons.

  • FIT TO BE TIED: There was a time when these sides simply couldn’t be separated – they drew five of their first six meetings, including an epic 3-3 draw in their first meeting all-time – while Oakland was the first side to come out on top late in the 2021 season.

  • SACRAMENTO’S ASCENT: Republic FC has taken care of business in the last three meetings between the teams, including sweeping the series last season.

  • CBS PRELUDE: The return meeting sees Oakland host Sacramento on the CBS Television Network on July 21, a date you should already have circled.

This rivalry always finds ways to heat up. With both teams coming off good victories, the potential for an expanded role for last week’s Roots debutant Dom Dwyer, and the atmosphere both sets of fans can create this has #USLAfterDark chaos potential.

2. ROWDIES, LOUCITY HIT PRIMETIME


Photo courtesy Matt May / Tampa Bay Rowdies

There are rivalries in the USL Championship that are based on location and proximity. There are also rivalries where there’s seemingly something at stake every time those teams play.

When the Tampa Bay Rowdies and Louisville City FC square off – as they do on Saturday night at Al Lang Stadium on CBS Sports Golazo Network – it’s very much the latter.

  • BEASTS OF THE EAST: For three consecutive years, Tampa Bay and Louisville met in the Eastern Conference Final before the Charleston Battery's rise last year. The Rowdies took victory in 2020 and 2021 before LouCity finally came out on top in 2022.

  • STANDINGS BATTLE: It’s almost a guarantee these teams will be in contention for the Players’ Shield every year. The Rowdies claimed it in 2021, and while LouCity has yet to earn that distinction it’s finished with the best record in the East three times and been second on five other occasions.

That’s the background for this year’s first showdown. LouCity has been dominant at home, and solid enough on the road to top the Eastern Conference with 10 wins in its first 13 outings. The Rowdies are in fourth but have a 10-point gap to make up, which makes this game huge for the hosts as we approach the midway point of the regular season.

Buckle up.

3. WELCOME, TUDN


Photo courtesy Isaiah J. Downing / Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC

As announced on Wednesday, the USL Championship’s new broadcast agreement with Televisa Univision kicks off this Saturday featuring two clubs on notable runs of form in the spotlight.

  • INDY’S 8-BALL: Indy Eleven plays host to San Antonio FC at 7 p.m. ET looking for an eighth consecutive victory in league play. Having downed SAFC at home in the U.S. Open Cup earlier this season, the Boys in Blue could be confident of a repeat.

  • SWITCHED ON: Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC is on a seven-game undefeated streak as it hosts Orange County SC in a big Western Conference clash at 9 p.m. ET. The winner here could be in the top three by the end of the night.

This is a great step forward for the USL. We recommend being part of the action.

AROUND THE GROUNDS


Photo courtesy Jon DeBoer / Detroit City FC

- #LDNvLV: Loudoun United FC can equal its longest winning streak in club history when it hosts Las Vegas Lights FC on Friday night, and its fans love them some Hugo Fauroux. Lights have the potential to upset the party.

- #DETvCHS: Sure, it’s not Battery Head Coach Ben Pirmann’s first trip back to Keyworth Stadium since his Hail, Caesar days at the helm of Le Rouge, but it’s always fun to watch. This is a top-five clash, too, and should have plenty of attacking intent.

- #HFDvPIT: Hartford and Pittsburgh are both below the playoff line and while it’s too early to panic, these are both teams struggling to find the target when chances present themselves. A win for either side would be huge.

- #MEMvNM: New Mexico has been perfect at home, but a little more up and down on its travels. The Western Conference leader will get tested by 901 FC after its dramatic comeback on Wednesday.

- #ELPvPHX: Amando Moreno was out of the squad for both of El Salvador’s games in the international window. If that’s injury-related, it’s a big blow for a Locomotive side looking for its first home win this season against a good Rising squad.

- #NCvMB: North Carolina FC’s Evan Conway has been heating up with goals in three consecutive games, but both sides will want to rebound from last week’s setbacks to boost their position in their respective playoff races. 

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