Louisville City FC is aiming to become the first team to win back-to-back USL Cups after claiming victory a season ago. | Photo courtesy Em-Dash Photography / Louisville City FC
TAMPA, Fla. – We are officially eight days away from the 2018 USL Cup, set to be held on Thursday, November 8 at 8 p.m. ET as the 2018 USL season comes to a dramatic climax in front of an international broadcast audience on ESPN2 in the United States and ESPN International in more than 50 countries around the world.
As the countdown continues to the big day, here’s everything you need to know about the 2018 USL Cup, and the teams still vying to lift the silverware at the end of the season.
The four teams remaining offer a contrast in postseason histories.
In the East, the past two USL Cup champions are set to fight it out for a third consecutive season in the Eastern Conference Final with No. 2-seed and defending champion Louisville City FC and the No. 5-seed and 2016 champion New York Red Bulls II set to meet at Slugger Field on Friday night (7:30 p.m. ET | Match Center | ESPN+). The past two postseason meetings have gone to penalty shootouts, will the third episode of the trilogy have the same ending from the spot?
In the West, two teams that prior to this season have never taken victory in the USL Cup Playoffs in their histories remain with No. 1-seed Orange County SC and No. 3-seed Phoenix Rising FC set to square off on Saturday night at Champions Soccer Stadium (10 p.m. ET | Match Center | ESPN+). Rising FC is on a mission to send legendary Ivory Coast forward Didier Drogba off into the sunset with one final trophy, but Orange County’s attacking trio of Thomas Enevoldsen, Michael Seaton and Aodhan Quinn and the club’s stout defense are looking to make their own history by claiming their first silverware.
Louisville City FC, Phoenix Rising FC and the New York Red Bulls II could all host the 2018 USL Cup, with Louisville City FC taking priority of the three after recording the best regular-season record. Phoenix Rising FC holds second-priority to hosting rights, while the New York Red Bulls II hold third priority.
Louisville City FC Hosts If…
Louisville City FC defeats New York Red Bulls II
Host Venue: Lynn Stadium, Louisville, Ky.
Phoenix Rising FC Hosts If…
Phoenix Rising FC defeats Orange County SC
AND New York Red Bulls II defeat Louisville City FC
Host Venue: Phoenix Rising Soccer Complex, Phoenix, Ariz.
New York Red Bulls II Host If…
New York Red Bulls II defeat Louisville City FC
AND Orange County SC defeats Phoenix Rising FC
Host Venue: Red Bull Arena, Harrison, N.J.
NOTE: Due to a lack of venue availability in Orange County, should Orange County SC advance out of the Western Conference Final, the 2018 USL Cup will be hosted by the Eastern Conference champion.
The 2018 USL Cup will be broadcast live on ESPN2 in the United States and on ESPN3 digitally through the ESPN App, and in more than 50 countries across the world by ESPN International. Viewers outside those regions will be able to watch all the action live through the USL YouTube channel, with live game play-by-play and statistics powered by Opta available in the USL Match Center.
According to the experts at fivethirtyeight.com, that would be defending champion Louisville City FC, which is trying to become the first team to lift the USL Cup in back-to-back seasons.
Louisville City FC - 41%
Orange County SC - 34%
Phoenix Rising FC - 16%
New York Red Bulls II - 9%