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USL Week 21 Midweek Preview: Orange County eyes playoff spot, TFC II looks to play spoiler and more

USL midweek action kicks off with two exciting matches Tuesday night with heavy playoff implications.

First, in Harrisburg, the City Islanders will welcome the Rochester Rhinos. The Rhinos have been an Eastern conference power over the last three seasons, and even with a loss on the weekend, look set to continue to frustrate teams and poach road points. The City Islanders have yet to make the playoffs in the new USL league structure, and have a terrific opportunity to surprise teams if they can become a more consistent side.

Out west, Orange County SC is on a hectic run of matches through the summer as they continue to catch up to the rest of the Western conference in games played. A win early in the week over the Colorado Springs Switchbacks places greater pressure on the Tulsa Roughnecks to pick up points Thursday or risk falling out of playoff position.

TUESDAY

Harrisburg City Islanders v. Rochester Rhinos 7 P.M.

The City Islanders (6-10-6) have struggled over the last couple of weeks. After slowly climbing their way back into playoff position through June and July, they have fallen back down to 11th place having not won a match since July 15th. The Rhinos (8-4-8) sit firmly in the top half of the Eastern conference table and dropped their first match since July 1st last weekend to the New York Red Bulls II. More importantly, the Rhinos have done very well for themselves on the road this season, and can pester teams with their numbers behind the ball approach. With the City Islanders taking a similar approach this season, expect this one to be a low scoring chess match.

Orange County SC v. Colorado Springs Switchbacks 9 P.M.

OCSC (7-5-5) are still catching up to the rest of the teams in the Western conference thanks to their light early season schedule. The result is a heavily congested final push that the team has largely shouldered quite well. Having lost just once since June 3rd, OCSC’s confidence is riding a high. The Switchbacks (8-8-6) have been a bit inconsistent this year, but have been proving they are hard to keep off the board. The other side of the game has been the tricky part for the Switchbacks, keeping a clean sheet just once in their last eight matches. If OCSC can regain their scoring touch, this could be a high scoring affair.

WEDNESDAY

Toronto FC II v. Charlotte Independence 8 P.M.

TFC (4-12-5) should be heavy underdogs in this match, but they are coming off of an impressive win over the Charleston Battery last weekend. Defensively, TFC have done well for themselves in recent weeks, but have had a lot of trouble scoring goals. The Independence (11-3-6) may find it difficult to break down TFC if the home team holds a deeper line against them. Charlotte has been punishing teams this year on the counter, and TFC won’t give up much in the way of the counter attack. If TFC can earn a second consecutive upset, they may play for more than just the spoiler role for the final stretch of the USL season.

THURSDAY

Tulsa Roughnecks FC v. Saint Louis FC 8:30 P.M.

Saint Louis FC (6-8-5) will travel to Tulsa to take on the Roughnecks (8-9-2) Thursday. Last weekend, STL held a scoreless draw against a powerful Swope Park Rangers side thanks to stout defending particularly from Konrad Plewa. In his first season with the club, Plewa arguably had his best performance to date in the draw, and may use the shutout to build confidence in a backline that has struggled this year. The Roughnecks were on a good run of form until falling to Reno 1868 FC on Saturday. With OCSC breathing down their neck, it will be critical for the Roughnecks to pick up points in their remaining games.

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