Must-see matchups are the big ticket for Week 19 of the USL Championship season. As the season rolls into September, so too does the quality of matchups in tight division races. League leaders and top talent will take the bill this weekend as the road to the USL Championship Playoffs becomes clearer, both inside and outside the Pacific Division.
Oakland Roots SC stunned Phoenix Rising FC as Las Positas College in a Wednesday night fixture to shake things up even further in an already wild division race. The streaking East Bay side have a quick turnaround for the weekend though, hosting Tacoma Defiance on Saturday at Laney College to close out an impressive 3-2-2 month.
Las Vegas Lights FC are on the other side of recent luck, falling in three straight matches ahead of Friday night’s tangle with LA Galaxy II as both sides try to push their way into the top four.
Rising FC and Orange County SC face off with interdivision foes for the weekend, and a win or draw from the Southern California side will have them joining Phoenix in the 30-point club.
A less than satisfactory recent run of form has seen Hartford Athletic fall from the Atlantic Division playoff scene, but Athletic can change their luck this weekend against Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC. Hartford are no stranger to tight playoff races this year, and find themselves in a familiar situation heading into Week 19. At 27 points, the Connecticut side are deadlocked in a three-way tie for the fourth playoff spot in the division.
Pittsburgh and Hartford have pronounced offenses, as both teams rank in the top six in the league in total goals. Individually, Danny Barrera (Hartford) and Kenardo Forbes (Pittsburgh) are two of the top three chance creators in the league. On the other side of the ball, both teams have combined for 10 clean sheets on the year.
The top two clubs in the Central Division face off in Week 19 when Birmingham Legion FC play host to one of the league’s top sides in Louisville City FC.
Cameron Lancaster (Louisville) and Neco Brett (Birmingham) steal the headlines from an attacking standpoint, as both players are tied for second in the Golden Boot race with 11 goals apiece. In net, both teams have combined for 10 clean sheets in 2021.
Louisville City FC are riding high in the division, Eastern Conference and league. As one of two USL Championship clubs with 40 points on the season entering the weekend, City FC are seven points clear of Birmingham in the Central Division table. Despite coming off a scoreless draw with OKC Energy FC, the club are also winners of four out of their last five matches.
A fixture with plenty of late-game drama in 2021 renews itself on Saturday when Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC hosts Austin Bold FC as Weidner Field. Switchbacks FC scored in the 90th minute on June 22 to escape Austin with three points before Bold FC returned the favor on August 4 with an 81st-minute winner from Collin Fernandez.
Three points for a struggling Austin side on Saturday will create a three-way tie for second in the Mountain Division, as Bold FC are looking to break a three-game draw streak. A win for Switchbacks FC will give them full command of second place in the division.
Saturday will also give USL Championship fans another chance to watch the current Golden Boot frontrunner in Switchbacks FC’s Hadji Berry, who has found the back of the net 19 times this season across his club’s 19 games.
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