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What to Watch Across the USL: Week 20

By Alex Crook, 09/02/21, 2:00PM PDT

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Playoff Positioning Continues to Take Center Stage

The USL Championship’s offensive potency will help sort out a crowded playoff picture across all four divisions as September gets underway.

Pacific Division Update

Oakland Roots SC are hungry and looking for higher division table positioning after winning three of their last four. The East Bay side struggled out of the gate this season in their USL Championship debut, but has a chance to make a big statement this Friday at a Tampa Bay Rowdies side currently on cruise control.

Orange County SC has turned its luck around as of late with a win and a draw to stay in third in the division and can make an equally large statement with three points against El Paso Locomotive, who is coming off just its second defeat of the season. 

Tacoma Defiance and Phoenix Rising FC will square off in divisional play on Sunday, joined by LA Galaxy II paying a visit to San Diego Loyal SC.

Louisville City FC vs. FC Tulsa

LouCity enters the weekend looking to get back in the win column after a rare setback while FC Tulsa has taken all three points in its last three outings. Tulsa currently has a solid grasp on third in the Central Division, but a win over Louisville will bump them up to two points behind the second-place spot occupied by Birmingham Legion FC. 

Louisville striker Cameron Lancaster scored twice against this same FC Tulsa side in a 2-1 win on August 14, but one of the league’s leading goal scorers has not found the back of the net since and will be looking to get back on track in the race for the Golden Boot. Louisville’s attacking front will be equally matched against a Tulsa offense that has found the net 33 times this season. Rodrigo Da Costa paces the Oklahoma side with eight goals, scoring against City FC on June 19.

Friday’s matchup will feature two of the league’s best one-two punches up top. For Louisville, Lancaster and Kyle Greig have combined for 16 goals and one assist, while Da Costa and Marlon have teamed up to produce 14 goals and six assists for FC Tulsa.

San Antonio FC vs. Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC

Two USL sides in the playoff conversation will meet for the first time ever when Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC travels to Toyota Field to face San Antonio FC.

Already on solid ground in the postseason pursuit, Riverhounds SC enters the weekend with one of the best attacking duos in the league in Russell Cicerone and Alex Dixon, who have combined for 20 goals and 13 assists on the year. Cicerone has been on a tear as of late with five goals on eight shots in his last two games, while Dixon has logged a goal and two assists in his last two outings. 

Standing in Pittsburgh’s way is a San Antonio FC side on little rest and high momentum after a 3-2 home win over Real Monarchs on Wednesday that saw SAFC’s recent run of form stretch to four wins in five matches. SAFC has their work cut out for them against Riverhounds SC, but boasts one of the USL Championship’s most elite playmakers in Cameron Lindley. Lindley and Pittsburgh’s Kenardo Forbes are tied for second in the league with 43 chances created. 

Charlotte Independence vs. Miami FC

Charlotte is on the cusp of being on the right side of the playoff line, and in spite of a 2-0 defeat in Tampa Bay last week, can cross that line on Saturday with three points against their second straight Florida opponent, Miami FC. 

For Miami, a 7-1-3 record since the start of July has allowed them to sit comfortably in third in the Atlantic Division. The club has outscored opponents 21-11 since with three straight clean sheets dating back to a scoreless draw with Austin Bold FC on August 14. 

Charlotte forward Dane Kelly will look to add to his USL Championship all-time goals record this weekend after already racking up seven this year for the Independence, including a penalty at Miami back on June 26. On the other side of the fixture, Billy Forbes has scored for Miami three times in the past two games. The southern Florida club is 4-0-1 this season when the forward finds the back of the net.  

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