By COLE KELLOGG
It was another busy week for USL teams, as plenty of overtime U.S. Open Cup matches on Tuesday and Wednesday drained energy out of the third tier sides.
This weekend, the focus turns back to league play, as the league-leading Rochester Rhinos will take on the Harrisburg City Islanders, who sit just below the playoff line with 15 points from 10 games.
Elsewhere in the league, LA Galaxy II will play an Orange County Blues side that also are just one spot away from a playoff spot, while the Wilmington Hammerheads take on the third place Eastern Conference team in the Richmond Kickers. The Colorado Springs Switchbacks will take on Saint Louis FC in a battle of middle-table sides, with New York Red Bulls II trying to bring down a persistent Louisville City FC team.
Other matchups this week include Seattle Sounders 2 facing off against Arizona United, the Oklahoma City Energy taking on Sacramento Republic, the Charleston Battery playing Charlotte Independence, FC Montreal against the Pittsburgh Riverhounds, the Tulsa Roughnecks taking on the Austin Aztex, and Portland Timbers II facing the Vancouver Whitecaps II.
Here is a closer look at this weekend’s USL action:
ROCHESTER RHINOS vs. HARRISBURG CITY ISLANDERS (7:30 p.m., Friday)
The first place overall team in the league will play a mid-table Harrisburg City Islanders to kick off the weekend of action.
Rochester continues to impress in the league, winning its last USL game against Louisville City FC last weekend, 2-0, but the Rhinos couldn’t manage an Open Cup victory midweek. The side lost in penalties after a scoreless draw against the Philadelphia Union.
The City Islanders drew 1-1 with Saint Louis FC last weekend, after a scoreless draw with Toronto FC II the week before. The team’s lone goal last weekend was scored by Eric Ayuk and assisted by Neil Shaffer.
ORANGE COUNTY BLUES vs. LA GALAXY II (10:30 p.m., Friday, YouTube)
Last weekend, Galaxy II defeated Vancouver Whitecaps II, 2-0, on the road. The goals came from Ariel Lassiter and Travis Bowen. The win came as the third for the Galaxy in its last four matches.
The Blues sits seventh in the Western Conference with 16 points from 10 games. The team had off last weekend, and its last result ironically came as a 2-1 loss to the LA Galaxy II on June 6. Christopher Cortez got the lone goal for Orange County in that match.
WILMINGTON HAMMERHEADS vs. RICHMOND KICKERS (7 p.m., Saturday, YouTube)
The Wilminton Hammerheads currently occupy the penultimate spot in the Eastern Conference, and faces a tough task this weekend against a Richmond side near the top of the table.
The Hammerheads are winless in eight matches, only collecting two points in that time. Last weekend, the side lost 1-0 to New York Red Bulls II at home.
The Kickers are undefeated in its last four games, but the scoring has slowed as two wins were followed by two draws. Last week, the Kickers drew a scoreless match at home to the last place team in the league, FC Montreal.
NEW YORK RED BULLS II vs. LOUISVILLE CITY FC (7:30 p.m., Saturday, YouTube)
New York Red Bulls II managed a 1-0 victory on the road against the Wilmington Hammerheads last weekend, as Christ Tsonis scored the only goal of the match.
Louisville City have been on an incredible run, but has now lost its past two games. The first loss came at the Rhinos last weekend, and City lost in overtime midweek against the Chicago Fire in Open Cup action. The USL newcomers stuck to their guns and took the MLS side into extra time, but in the end City was sunk by a Quincy Amarikwa strike.
SEATTLE SOUNDERS 2 vs. ARIZONA UNITED SC (10:30 p.m., Saturday, YouTube)
Seattle Sounders II managed a 1-0 victory last Thursday against its Los Angeles USL counterpart, but the team let a 1-0 lead slip midweek against Real Salt Lake in the U.S. Open Cup.
A late Aaron Kovar strike sunk the Galaxy II last week, as the Sounders II managed to leapfrog LA for second place in the Western Conference. However, a Sam Garza goal in first half stoppage time wasn’t enough as Salt Lake came back with goals from Joao Plata and Javier Morales to win at home.
Arizona has lost four matches straight now, having let in 12 goals in during that stretch. Last weekend was a 2-1 loss to Sacramento Republic, with a Long Tan goal serving as consolation for United at home.
OKLAHOMA CITY ENERGY FC vs. SACRAMENTO REPUBLIC FC (11 p.m., Saturday, YouTube)
Oklahoma City stretched its USL win streak to five matches last weekend with a 2-0 victory at home against Tulsa. Goals came from Gareth Evans and red-hot Energy star Danni Konig. The team did lose badly to FC Dallas in the Open Cup midweek, though, with another Konig goal ending a shutout for Dallas in its 4-1 win over the USL side.
Sacramento Republic beat Arizona 2-1 on the road last weekend before narrowly losing to the San Jose Earthquakes in the Open Cup this midweek. Against Arizona United, Agustin Cazarez and Danny Berrera got on the scoresheet. The team fought hard to take the Earthquakes to penalties in the U.S. tournament on Tuesday, after goals from Rodrigo Lopez and Emrah Klimenta in the 2-2 draw were not enough to push the Republic onto the Round of 16.
COLORADO SPRINGS SWITCHBACKS vs. SAINT LOUIS FC (8:30 p.m., Friday, YouTube)
CHARLESTON BATTERY vs. CHARLOTTE INDEPENDENCE (7 p.m., Saturday)
FC MONTREAL vs. PITTSBURGH RIVERHOUNDS (7 p.m., Saturday)
TULSA ROUGHNECKS FC vs. AUSTIN AZTEX (9 p.m., Saturday)
PORTLAND TIMBERS II vs. VANCOUVER WHITECAPS II (5 p.m., Sunday)