A busy week for the USL kicks off Friday night in Kansas City with last year’s western conference champions, Swope Park Rangers, taking on current leaders, San Antonio FC.
Reno 1868 FC’s match against the Colorado Springs Switchbacks headlines the Saturday slate of games. Reno is one of the hottest teams in the league right now, and a win would give it a chance to move up six spots in the standings. Over in the Eastern Conference, the Charleston Battery will look to close out a very successful road swing against the suddenly porous New York Red Bulls II defense.
Here’s a better look at all the weekend action:
San Antonio FC at Swope Park Rangers (Friday 8:30 p.m.)
The Western Conference leaders, San Antonio FC, look to stay undefeated at Swope Park Rangers. Swope Park is winless in its last three, clinging onto seventh place thanks to inconsistency in the bottom half of the West table. San Antonio remains stout defensively, but it has struggled to score since Billy Forbes cooled off from his blistering goal scoring pace to start the season. San Antonio FC will look to get their first win against the Rangers, Swope Park leads the series against SAFC (2-0-1).
Richmond Kickers at Ottawa Fury (Saturday 2 p.m.)
Ottawa may have jumpstarted its season after two big wins this week. The Fury defeated New York Red Bulls II in USL play, and Toronto FC in the Canadian Championship on Tuesday night. Despite a rocky start to the season, Fury FC continue to pick up points, only losing once in their last six games. Richmond lost at home to Ottawa back in Week 3 and is looking to exact revenge with a road scalp of its own. Both teams are coming into the contest on short rest after midweek games.
Toronto FC II at FC Cincinnati (Saturday 5 p.m.)
Cincinnati is trying to make it two in a row against bottom dwellers Toronto FC II. Toronto has struggled once again this season with some of its best players departing for the senior team. TFC II is winless in 9, recording their only victory over Phoenix on Opening Day. Cincinnati has struggled at home this season (2-1-2, 8pts). New striker Danni Konig should help Cincinnati overcome some of its early season struggles since losing last year’s MVP, Sean Okoli. Konig scored his first two goals in a win over Bethleham Steel FC last weekend.
Charlotte Independence at Orlando City B (Saturday 7:30 p.m.)
Charlotte has won two of its last three games heading into Saturday night’s contest against Orlando. After early season struggles, the Independence offense woke up in a big way against New York Red Bulls II. After scoring only three goals in their first five games, Charlotte dropped five on Red Bulls II. They will need to be firing on all cylinders against Orlando City B, who has only surrendered one goal in its last four games.
Saint Louis FC at Tampa Bay Rowdies (Saturday 7:30 p.m.)
Tampa Bay has wavered only slightly since the start of the season. Its loss to Rochester knocked it down a peg, but it has plenty of success to build on. The same cannot be said of Saint Louis FC. Winless in its last four games, Saint Louis has to find a way to get a result on the road, something it has only done once this year. If Saint Louis is looking to make a statement, Tampa Bay is a perfect target to kick start a return to form.
Reno 1868 FC at Colorado Springs Switchbacks (Saturday 8 p.m.)
The Switchbacks will be looking to stop a red-hot Reno 1868 FC squad on Saturday. Reno has won three straight and is looking to spoil the Switchbacks’ two-game homestand. Reno has been one of the hottest teams in USL recently, outscoring teams 12-0 in its last three games to find itself one game out of the playoff places. The Switchbacks will be looking to turn around a two-game losing streak. They’re hoping that Reno will be tired after playing a midweek match.
Portland Timbers 2 at Tulsa Roughnecks (Saturday 8:30 p.m)
After scoring their first goal in four games, Timbers 2 finally scored in their midweek contest. It wasn’t enough though as they are now winless in four. The Roughnecks will be looking to rebound from a tough match against Reno 1868 FC as well. Both teams will have their depth tested as they play the first of two matchups this season.
Phoenix Rising FC at LA Galaxy II (Saturday 10:30 p.m.)
Galaxy II will be looking to extend their unbeaten streak to three straight on Saturday at home against Phoenix Rising. Both squads have posted subpar starts to the season as they sit near the bottom of the Western Conference. Phoenix has announced that Patrice Carteron will be the interim head coach, but he will not be with the team until early June. Will the good news be enough to turn Phoenix around? Only time will tell.
Charleston Battery at New York Red Bulls II (Sunday 2 p.m.)
New York will hope that the short week makes Charleston a softer target. The Battery have been on a tear for well over a month and are showing no signs of slowing down. With their offense slowing down a bit of late, the defense has stepped up big time. That’s bad news for the Red Bulls, who have been sputtering of late. Their makeshift backline will need to figure things out in a hurry if they want to get a result against the Battery.
Harrisburg City Islanders at Bethlehem Steel (Sunday 5 p.m.)
Both Harrisburg and Bethlehem are coming off disappointing midweek results. Bethlehem lost 1-0 to the Charleston Battery while the Islanders tied the Riverhounds 0-0. Both teams have endured rollercoaster seasons but the Islanders are in better form heading into Sunday. Thanks to squad rotation in its midweek match, Harrisburg should be properly setup to take on Bethlehem to move back into the playoff places in the Eastern Conference.
Sacramento Republic FC at Seattle Sounders 2 (Sunday 5 p.m.)
Two teams in the upper reaches of the Western Conference meet on Sunday with hopes of gaining a leg up on each other. This is second meeting of the season between the Republic and Sounders 2. Seattle will try to better its result from the first time around in this matchup while also looking to rebound from its worst defeat in franchise history. Sacramento Republic can build a modest two-game winning streak but the advantage should go to Sounders 2 at home.
Real Monarchs SLC at Vancouver Whitecaps 2 (Sunday 6 p.m.)
Real Monarchs have a chance to catch San Antonio FC atop the Western Conference as they’ll be playing their game in hand on the top team in the Western Conference. The Monarchs are trying to extend their five game winning streak against a Whitecaps 2 side that will be playing their first match in two weeks.