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What to Watch Across the USL: Week 22

By Alex Crook, 09/16/21, 2:00PM PDT

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Trending teams look to keep momentum

This weekend in the USL Championship will see a continued postseason pursuit of playoff hopefuls. Austin Bold FC, Charlotte Independence and Indy Eleven are all making noise in their respective divisions at the right time, while out west, Oakland Roots SC is in hot pursuit of a playoff spot in a wild Pacific Division. 

Pacific Division Update

A seven-goal thriller between Phoenix Rising FC and LA Galaxy II saw the Arizona side pad its lead in the Pacific Division, and a midweek win over Las Vegas Lights on Wednesday gave Rising FC 50 points for the fourth time in five seasons. On the horizon for Rising FC is a Saturday showdown with Orange County SC.

Northern and Southern California will clash on Saturday when an upstart Oakland Roots SC squad hosts LA Galaxy II at Laney College. Roots SC can continue its late season push and make it nine of its last 10 without a loss, while Los Dos’ recent form has seen them win just once since August 14.

Indy Eleven vs. Louisville City FC

Coming off a 1-0 win over Sporting Kansas City II that changed the trajectory of its playoff fate, Indy Eleven is looking to continue its push up the Central Division table with a new face on the back line in Liam Doyle from San Antonio FC.

Doyle’s first test could not be any taller: an offensively potent Louisville City FC side on Saturday hungry for three points after outplaying OKC Energy FC but settling for a 1-1 draw. LouCity leads the Eastern Conference with 45 goals on 337 shots for an impressive 18 percent conversion rate, while Indy has conceded 33 times on the year.

Austin Bold FC vs. FC Tulsa

Consecutive wins for the first time all season have Austin Bold FC in the fourth playoff spot in the Mountain Division ahead of this Saturday’s interdivision clash at FC Tulsa. Tulsa was forced to settle for a 1-1 draw against Birmingham Legion FC last weekend, seeing their five-game win streak come to a halt while remaining two points beneath Legion FC in the Central Division. 

Xavier Báez has three goals on four shots in his last five games for Austin, who will try to stretch their back-to-back victories into a three-game win streak. For Tulsa, Darío Suárez has scored in the club’s last three matches while logging a goal or assist in five of the last six contests dating back to August 22. 

Charlotte Independence vs. Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC

Charlotte has gone 5-1-3 in its last nine matches with five clean sheets, while Pittsburgh has gone 9-2-3 in its last 14. Riverhounds SC is coming off a season-high five goals in a 5-0 rout of Loudoun United on Saturday, but Independence has danced that dance too with a combined 7-0 score line in its last two matches. 

Saturday’s matchup in the Queen City features two of the top goal scorers in the Eastern Conference, between Pittsburgh’s Russell Cicerone (14 goals) and Charlotte’s Irvin Parra (9 goals). In net, Pittsburgh’s Daniel Vitiello and Charlotte’s Brandon Miller have a combined 11 clean sheets between the two of them.