By FRANCO PANIZO
The penultimate week of this season's USL Pro action is about to get underway, and only two teams will be left standing when Friday comes to a close.
The USL Pro semifinals will kick off on Friday night, and the four teams involved will be in do-or-die situations as only one match is played before determining who punches their ticket to the final on Sept. 8.
Orlando City are the favorites to repeat as champions after dominating league play this year, but they will have to top the team that handed them their first loss of the regular season if they are to advance to the final. The WIlmington Hammerheads are full of confidence after pulling off an upset win over the Richmond Kickers and they have lethal attacking options such as Corey Hertzog, meaning Orlando should be in store for a touch match at home in the Florida Citrus Bowl against the team it went 1-1-1 against this year.
The other semifinal match will see the Charleston Battery pay a visit to the Rochester Rhinos at Sahlen's Stadium. Charleston is fresh off a come-from-behind win over the Harrisburg City Islanders in the first round of the playoffs but it split the two-game season series against Rochester, who have had an extra week's rest.
If the last time the two teams played at Sahlen's Stadium is any indication, however, the Rhinos could be in for a rough game. The Battery visited Rochester earlier this month and came away with an emphatic 4-0 triumph thanks to a standout performance from Tony Donatelli. The Rhinos will need to do a better job marking him and finding the back of the net, otherwise their dreams of a USL Pro Championship might end a week earlier than they would like.
Who do you see advancing to the finals? Think both semifinal games will be tight? Are you rooting for anyone in specific?
Share your thoughts below.