skip navigation

How the past two weeks of deals show the pressure’s rising in the USL Championship

By NICHOLAS MURRAY -, 06/14/24, 1:00PM EDT


San Antonio, Hartford have pulled the levers on acquiring big talent to boost their playoff chances

23-year-old forward Jake LaCava is one of two major moves San Antonio FC has made in the past two weeks to bolster its roster as it fights to move up the Western Conference standings. | Photo courtesy Darren Abate / San Antonio FC

We’re almost to the midway point of the USL Championship season, and you can tell the pressure of the playoff race is starting to rise.

How so? Check the transactions wire.

For a club like Sacramento Republic FC, the acquisition of Justin Portillo was needed to fill the gap left by the injury to Rodrigo Lopez. As we noted at the time, they’re not exactly like for like players, and while a team with Sacramento’s depth could have probably gotten by without the move, there’s no reason to miss out on an opportunity to add a piece that can add to its push for a second USL Championship title.

Further down the standings in the Eastern and Western Conference, though, the time to act was now.

First, there’s San Antonio FC, which is in a much more precarious position than we expected it would be this preseason sitting eighth in the West.

For the 2022 Championship title winner, missing the playoffs for the first time since 2019 would be a disaster, making it urgent to bring in reinforcements as others are on the mend.

On the other hand, there’s Hartford Athletic. You might think after three consecutive playoff misses the bar for progress would be lower, but you’d be wrong. After high expectations for a revival this season, being below the playoff line isn’t where this side expected, or wants, to be.

Hartford Athletic Head Coach Brendan Burke has reshuffled the deck this week at Trinity Health Stadium as his side approaches the halfway point of the season below the playoff line. | Photo courtesy Hartford Athletic

  • CHANGE UP TOP: On Thursday, Hartford added forward Dantouma Touray – previously of the Colorado Rapids – on loan from Major League Soccer. The 20-year-old has bagged six goals and three assists previously in the Championship and is a known commodity to Athletic Head Coach Brendan Burke.

  • FAMILIAR FACE: Then on Friday, Hartford brought back Younes Boudadi for a second stint with the club as part of a pair of transactions that sent Romario Williams the other way to Indy Eleven. Boudadi spent two seasons previously with Athletic, recording six assists in 61 appearances in 2021 and 2022.

  • TIME FOR A JUMP: Hartford’s biggest challenge this season has been in front of goal, and with Williams dropping to a reserve role in recent weeks the side appeared ready for a change. That’s going to put expectations on Toure to perform, and for Boudadi to bring his wide playmaking skills to the party as well.

Midseason deals aren’t a new thing in the USL Championship, but each one comes with its own context.

Whether it’s a move to add a needed piece to a contender – see Dariusz Formella’s move to Phoenix Rising FC last July – or a deal closer to the roster freeze deadline from a club that’s out of the playoff picture – see Mark Segbers’ move to Charleston last September – there are always going to be discussions on who can be got for what going on between clubs.

For San Antonio and Hartford, the moves they’ve made now shows they’re not only feeling the pressure of expectation but are ready to be bold to move forward.

Follow the USL Championship

Most Recent News

Most Read News

Latest Videos