TAMPA, Fla. – A rematch between two of the top three teams in the USL’s Eastern Conference highlights a 13-game slate this weekend as the USL wraps up Week 8 of the regular season, with a major meeting in South Texas and the latest challenge to league-leader San Antonio FC also included in a big set of games on Saturday night.
The second-place Tampa Bay Rowdies and third-place Louisville City FC will meet for the second time this season, and the first at Al Lang Stadium, in the highest-profile game of the week, with Louisville looking to continue its undefeated start to the season. Eastern Conference leaders the Charleston Battery also play host to Saint Louis FC in another big game between two playoff contenders.
Meanwhile in the Western Conference, Phoenix Rising FC and OKC Energy FC square off on Saturday night, both aiming to get back on a winning track and hoping to not let the top eight get too far out of reach early in the season. San Antonio FC is also in action, and will try to extend its winning streak to five games as it hosts Seattle Sounders FC 2 at Toyota Field.
Photo courtesy Em-Dash Photography / Louisville City FC
Saturday, May 13
Charleston Battery vs. Saint Louis FC
7 p.m. ET, MUSC Health Stadium
The Charleston Battery will try to stretch their lead at the top of the Eastern Conference as they welcome Saint Louis FC to MUSC Health Stadium for the first meeting between the teams since 2015. After edging past Bethlehem Steel FC last weekend, the Battery are two points ahead of Tampa Bay going into this weekend.
Charleston (5-1-1, 16pts) earned a victory against Bethlehem despite the absence of Romario Williams due to illness. Trinidad & Tobago international Ataullah Guerra came through with the only goal as Charleston’s undefeated streak reached four games (3-0-1) last Saturday as the Battery notched their third shutout of the season.
Saint Louis (3-2-2, 11pts) will return to action after seeing its game last Saturday night against the Rochester Rhinos postponed due to flooding in the region. With the team winless in its past three games (0-2-1), Head Coach Preki will be eager to get back into the fray and try to make up ground on the Battery in the standings.
Tampa Bay Rowdies vs. Louisville City FC
7:30 p.m. ET, Al Lang Stadium
The Tampa Bay Rowdies and Louisville City FC will meet at Al Lang Stadium with the hosts looking for a little revenge after suffering a 2-1 defeat in the first meeting between the clubs on April 9. George Davis IV and Cameron Lancaster found the net on that occasion, and both have helped Louisville remain undefeated six games into the season.
The Rowdies (4-2-2, 14pts) earned a point on the road last Saturday afternoon as they held Ottawa Fury FC to a 0-0 draw at TD Place. The Rowdies have rebounded well from their second loss of the season, posting back-to-back shutouts over the past two weeks, and will be eager to hand City its first loss of the year.
Louisville (3-0-3, 12pts) had a week off after its last outing, a 0-0 draw against Toronto FC II at Slugger Field on April 29. Louisville came close to grabbing a victory against Toronto, only to be stymied by goalkeeper Angelo Cavalluzzo’s 10-save shutout. With a chance to overtake the Rowdies with a win, Louisville will be motivated to complete a season sweep.
San Antonio FC vs. Seattle Sounders FC 2
8:30 p.m. ET, Toyota Field
San Antonio FC will look to continue its outstanding start to the season when it hosts a Seattle Sounders FC 2 team that enters the weekend on a two-game winning streak. San Antonio has won seven out of eight in its undefeated start, among the best in league history.
San Antonio (7-0-1, 22pts) had to work hard to earn a victory last time out as it edged past Sacramento Republic FC 1-0 on home turf. Rafael Castillo scored the only goal from the penalty spot, while goalkeeper Diego Restrepo had a four-save shutout to preserve the win. Restrepo has posted back-to-back shutouts in SAFC’s past two outings.
Seattle (4-4-0, 12pts) put together its first consecutive victories of the season in its last outing, a comfortable 2-0 win against the Portland Timbers 2 last Friday night at Starfire Stadium. S2 came up short in its first meeting with San Antonio this season, falling 3-2 on April 25 at Starfire, and will be hoping to return the favor as it visits Toyota Field for the second time.
Phoenix Rising FC vs. OKC Energy FC
10:30 p.m. ET, Phoenix Rising Soccer Complex
Phoenix Rising FC and OKC Energy FC are both looking to bounce back from defeats in their last outings when they square off on Saturday night at the Phoenix Rising Soccer Complex, with both teams now looking to make a move up the Western Conference standings in an important early-season clash.
Phoenix (2-3-0, 6pts) saw its two-game winning streak come to an end at the hands of Reno 1868 FC last Saturday night as two goals in the opening 10 minutes set the visitor up for its first win in club history. Rising FC again could see Didier Drogba make his debut for the club, after being listed as eligible a week ago but not being included in the game day 18.
Energy FC (1-3-1, 4pts) is coming off a bye week after a 3-0 defeat against Rio Grande Valley FC on April 29 at H-E-B Park. OKC made a major move this week as the club acquired forward Andy Craven – who played at the end of the 2016 season for the club – from FC Cincinnati in exchange for Danni König. Craven will not be available to make his return to action for the club, however, as he continues to serve a suspension handed down while a member of FCC.
Photo courtesy Charlotte Independence
25 – Brandon Allen’s two goals for the New York Red Bulls II against the Harrisburg City Islanders last Saturday gave him 25 in the USL regular season and postseason since the start of the 2016 season.
18 – The USL’s 18 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup participants – a league record – learned who they would take on in next week’s second round, with an inter-city clash between the Charlotte Independence and the PDL’s Charlotte Eagles and Phoenix Rising FC’s visit to the PDL’s Fresno Fuego among the intriguing contests.
17 – The Charlotte Independence recorded 17 shots on goal in a 5-1 win against the New York Red Bulls II on Thursday night. The Independence had recorded only 12 shots on goal in their previous five outings.
8 – Eight players with USL experience were named this week in the United States U20 National Team that will compete at the FIFA U20 World Cup in South Korea. The tournament begins on May 20.
3 – Louisville City FC has conceded only three goals in six games, the fewest in the league.
Photo courtesy FC Edmonton
- San Antonio FC’s Billy Forbes was named the USL Player of the Month for March/April on Thursday as the standout winger claimed 64 percent of the vote combined among an online fan poll, the league’s national media panel and the USL Technical Committee.
- Ottawa Fury FC advanced to the Semifinals of the 2017 Canadian Championship on Wednesday night as it defeated FC Edmonton 3-2 at Clarke Field to win the series 4-2 on aggregate. Ottawa will now face Toronto FC in a two-legged series that kicks off on May 23 at TD Place.
- FC Cincinnati acquired forward Danni König on Wednesday in a trade that sent Andy Craven to OKC Energy FC. König was a finalist for the 2015 USL Most Valuable Player award, and has scored 25 goals in two-plus seasons in the USL.
- The Portland Timbers 2 (1-7-1, 4pts) welcomed a club-record crowd of 7,277 to Providence Park for a Wednesday matinee to kick off Week 8 as the side played to a 0-0 draw with Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC (3-2-4, 13pts).
- Real Monarchs SLC (6-1-0, 18pts) remained within touching distance of San Antonio on Wednesday night with a 3-0 victory against the LA Galaxy II (1-6-1, 4pts). The Monarchs are back in action on Saturday night when they play host to Sacramento Republic FC at Rio Tinto Stadium (9:30 p.m. ET | Match Center).
- The Charlotte Independence (2-2-2, 8pts) moved off the foot of the Eastern Conference standings with an emphatic 5-1 victory against the New York Red Bulls II (3-3-2, 11pts) on Thursday night. Five different players found the net as Enzo Martinez and Jorge Herrera each recorded a goal and assist.
- The Red Bulls II and LA Galaxy II are back in action on Sunday when the sides square off for the first time in their history. Sunday’s game (9 p.m. ET | Match Center) is part of a doubleheader that sees the two organizations’ MLS clubs square off on FS1 at 6 p.m. prior to the contest.
- Tulsa Roughnecks FC (3-3-0, 9pts) got a busy week off to a good start with a 3-1 victory against Vancouver Whitecaps FC 2 (2-4-2, 8pts) at ONEOK Field as Ian Svantesson scored twice and Juan Pablo Caffa had a goal and assist. The Roughnecks will welcome Orange County SC (3-1-1, 10pts) to ONEOK Field on Saturday night (8 p.m. ET | Match Center) to round out the week.
- WFC2 will also be in action this weekend as it returns home to face Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC on Sunday afternoon (6 p.m. ET | Match Center). Vancouver is on its first two-game losing streak of the season after Thursday’s defeat, but will be hoping to repeat its victory against the Switchbacks in their past meeting in the Western Conference Quarterfinals of the 2016 USL Cup Playoffs.
- On the other side of Canada, Ottawa Fury FC (1-2-3, 6pts) will look to build off its Canadian Championship success when it opens Saturday’s slate against the Pittsburgh Riverhounds (3-3-2, 11pts) at TD Place (2 p.m. ET | Match Center). The Riverhounds are on their first two-game winning streak since 2015 after downing Toronto FC II in their past outing.
- Danni König could make his debut for FC Cincinnati (2-3-3, 9pts) as the side looks to break a four-game winless streak when it welcomes Orlando City B (2-3-3, 9 pts) to Nippert Stadium on Saturday evening (5 p.m. ET | Match Center). Cincinnati has recorded three 1-1 draws and fallen to Bethlehem Steel FC since its last win against Saint Louis FC on April 15.
- Rio Grande Valley FC (3-3-0, 9pts) and the Swope Park Rangers (4-2-0, 12pts) will both look to build on big victories last time out when they meet on Saturday night at H-E-B Park (8:30 p.m. ET | Match Center). The Toros took a 3-0 victory against OKC Energy FC on April 29 to move back to .500 for the season, while Swope Park snapped a two-game losing streak with a 3-1 victory against Vancouver Whitecaps FC 2 last Friday night.
- Toronto FC II (1-3-3, 6pts) will look to get back on a winning track when it hosts Bethlehem Steel FC on Saturday night at BMO Field (6 p.m. ET | Match Center). Toronto has been held scoreless in its past four outings, earning three draws before a 1-0 defeat against Pittsburgh last time out, while Bethlehem is coming off a 1-0 defeat to Charleston this past Saturday.
- The Richmond Kickers (2-4-1, 7pts) will try to replicate its season-opening victory against the Harrisburg City Islanders (2-3-1, 7pts) when the sides meet for the second time this season at City Stadium on Saturday night (7 p.m. ET | Match Center). Conor Shanosky scored the only goal on March 25 as the Kickers took a 1-0 victory in the previous meeting.