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What we learned from Week 16’s midweek action in the USL Championship

By NICHOLAS MURRAY -, 06/20/24, 11:30AM EDT


LouCity still has the upper hand at Highmark Stadium, and Oakland Roots is gaining positions and momentum

Louisville City FC's Jansen Wilson celebrates his game-winner against Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC, which extended LouCity's undefeated history at Highmark Stadium. | Photo courtesy Chris Cowger / Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC

After a collection of five midweek contests in the USL Championship across Tuesday and Wednesday night, we’ve got a new team in the top three in the Western Conference, a club-record undefeated streak and Louisville City FC sitting pretty on top of the Players’ Shield race.

Here are the three top storylines we took away from the action, and some other thoughts.



One of the enduring quirks of the series between Louisville City FC and Pittsburgh Riverhounds has been LouCity’s ability to earn results at Highmark Stadium.

Wednesday night proved exactly the same.

LouCity’s 1-0 win against the Hounds on Jansen Wilson’s third goal of the season moved the club to 6-0-5 all-time on the road in Pittsburgh. Louisville’s six road wins against the Hounds are also now its most against a single opponent across the Championship’s regular season and playoffs.

All the same, it was hard-fought, as these games tend to be in Highmark’s smaller dimensions. But, after the side’s defeat in Tampa Bay last weekend, LouCity Head Coach Danny Cruz was very happy with the manner in which his side adjusted and implemented its plan.

“We’re really, really proud of the execution of the game plan,” said Cruz. “It’s not pretty when we come here. We have to change a little bit about how we play. I was proud of the resolve from the group. I was proud of the mentality. … I thought we created chances in a tough environment on a tough field.”

Going home to face Rhode Island FC, LouCity now has a six-point cushion on its closest rival for the Players’ Shield as we approach the midway point of the season.


Oakland Roots SC center back Thomas Camier was one of two USL Academy signings that featured in Wednesday night's win against El Paso. | Photo courtesy Oakland Roots SC

As fluky as El Paso Locomotive FC’s opening goal on Wednesday night against Oakland Roots SC might have been, the response Roots showed at home to come back for a 2-1 victory with USL Academy signing Ilya Alexeev scoring his second goal of the season for the winner made them a worthy winner in the end.

Oakland’s run of five wins in its last six games has rocketed the side into third place in the Western Conference. It’s a sign of how congested the West is currently that the side could ascend that quickly – see also the current spots for Memphis 901 FC and Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC.

While Roots has played more games than some of the teams directly below them going into Saturday’s NorCal derby with Monterey Bay F.C., the big question for the side is how far it can carry the momentum and positive performances that have marked interim Head Coach Gavin Glinton’s time at the helm.

“That's what we're all waiting to find out, right?” said Glinton on Wednesday night. “I think the guys have done a fantastic job right now. You know, we've had a good couple of weeks now. We're just working on maintaining our level and being consistent. And so, the next step is how long can we maintain our level? And the guys have been fantastic in their application. So, we continue to take steps together and we'll see how far it goes.”


San Antonio FC has suffered four consecutive regular season defeats for the first time since August, 2018 during its current run. | Photo courtesy Birmingham Legion FC

San Antonio FC’s 3-0 defeat on the road against Birmingham Legion FC on Wednesday night marked the first time the club had lost four consecutive regular season contests since August 12-26, 2018, and its injury list is a big reason why.

Between the 10 absences the side had to injury an international duty last night, you could almost make a reasonable lineup despite being one player short.  

GK – Pablo Sisniega; D – Trova Boni, Carter Manley, Mohamed Omar; M – Lucas Silva, Kevon Lambert, Bura Noguiera; F – Hugo Mbongue, Luis Solignac, Juan Agudelo

That left Head Coach Alen Marcina with 12 senior players and four USL Academy signings to call on in Birmingham, and while the side was solid enough in the first half it was simply overwhelmed after the break, conceding three times as everything started to catch up to the talent it had on the field.

“Obviously, we’re disappointed with the loss, but it just felt like fatigue kicked in on us,” said SAFC attacking playmaker Jorge Hernandez. “We had a good span of games where we’ve been playing three games a week, and it just felt like fatigue kicked in. We’re going to get back to the drawing board and we’re going to fix that as much as possible.”

As congested as the Western Conference is, there’s still time for SAFC to heal up and make a run up the standings to secure a fifth consecutive postseason berth. This has, however, been by far the most challenging campaign of Marcina’s tenure.


- Phillip Goodrum getting back on the scoresheet for the first time since May 5 and notching an assist in FC Tulsa’s 2-1 win against Miami FC was massive for the side. There might be no-one more important to this side’s potential for success.

- Las Vegas Lights FC and Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC delivered a #USLAfterDark classic on Tuesday night to end up in a 3-3 draw thanks to Ronaldo Damus’ late equalizer for the Switchbacks. That’s a club-record nine games undefeated for Colorado Springs going into Saturday night’s showdown with first-placed New Mexico United.

- As shorthanded as San Antonio was, that was still an impressive display by Birmingham Legion FC to pull away in the second half. There’s so much talent that can take on opponents one-on-one in this squad.

- I get wanting to shake things up and the need to rotate, but six changes for Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC was a lot for Wednesday night’s game. The same thing might happen for Saturday’s game in North Carolina as well, though.

- Cracking goal by Allen Gavilanes again, but it’s starting to look like a long road to the end of the season ahead for Miami FC.

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