After a very successful opening weekend for the new second division league, Week 2 seeks to deliver further entertainment for the USL.
Saturday opens the slate with several compelling matches to watch. The Pittsburgh Riverhounds and FC Cincinnati clash in a regional rivalry match after the former tied in a shootout in week one with the New York Red Bulls II, who themselves will face the Richmond Kickers. Elsewhere, the Charlotte Independence welcome the Charleston Battery in another regional match, but the big action of the day closes it as the Sacramento Republic take on Orange County SC in a California rivalry match.
Monday sees an MLS Cascadia rivalry translated to the USL, as the Seattle Sounders 2 take on the Portland Timbers 2 at the Starfire Sports Complex. Both teams fell in their season openers, and the Timbers 2 also lost a midweek battle against the Swope Park Rangers.
Here’s a look at the full slate of USL matches in week two:
BETHLEHEM STEEL FC VS. ROCHESTER RHINOS (SATURDAY 4 P.M.)
The Bethlehem Steel open their 2017 campaign by taking on the Rochester Rhinos, also making their season debut, at home on Saturday. Both teams seek to start their Division 2 lives off on the right foot. The Steel missed out on the playoffs last season with a bad run of form to end the year, but they’ll hope to bounce back against a team that finished in the upper half of the eight playoff teams in the Eastern Conference.
NEW YORK RED BULLS II VS. RICHMOND KICKERS (SATURDAY 4 P.M.)
After an explosive match against the Pittsburgh Riverhounds in Week 1, Red Bulls II will return home to host their first match at their new home, Montclair State University, against the Richmond Kickers. The Kickers opened their season with a nicely earned 1-0 victory over the Harrisburg City Islanders, as they hope to return to the playoffs once more. It’ll be difficult this week as they take on the defending USL champions.
PITTSBURGH RIVERHOUNDS VS. FC CINCINNATI (SATURDAY 5 P.M.)
After that stunning six-goal shootout last weekend, the Riverhounds play host to regional rival FC Cincinnati. Cincy opened its year down in Charleston last weekend, where it found itself on the wrong end of a 2-1 result. The first year playoff team will hope to get on the right side of the scoreline this week against a team that struggled mightily last season.
REAL MONARCHS VS. PHOENIX RISING FC (SATURDAY 6 P.M.)
Real Monarchs return to action after last week’s 2-1 victory over the Timbers 2, as they take on Phoenix Rising FC in their first game without Mike Petke, who was promoted from the USL job to the Real Salt Lake position this week. The Monarchs face a tough test in a revamped Phoenix team, who disappointingly fell in their season opener, 1-0, to Toronto FC II.
CHARLOTTE INDEPENDENCE VS. CHARLESTON BATTERY (SATURDAY 7 P.M.)
Another regional rivalry kicks off Saturday night, as the Charlotte Independence take on their southern neighbors, the Charleston Battery. The Independence kick off their season at home hoping to start with a win, but face a Battery side coming off an impressive 2-1 victory over FC Cincinnati. Both teams are looking to make it back to the postseason.
TAMPA BAY ROWDIES VS. TORONTO FC II (SATURDAY 7:30 P.M.)
The Tampa Bay Rowdies opened their first season in the USL, after jumping from the NASL at the end of last season, with a solid victory over regional rival Orlando City B. The Rowdies now face a tough test against Toronto FC II, coming off their own victory as they played spoiler to the home opener of Phoenix Rising FC with a 1-0 win.
COLORADO SPRINGS SWITCHBACKS FC VS. OKC ENERGY FC (SATURDAY 8 P.M.)
The Switchbacks enter the second week of their season hoping to bounce back from a massive defeat last weekend, as they fell to the Tulsa Roughnecks by a big 4-1 scoreline. They’ll welcome the OKC Energy, who enter the match coming off a significant defeat of their own as they fell to last year’s runners-up Swope Park Rangers by a 3-1 scoreline.
TULSA ROUGHNECKS FC VS. RIO GRANDE VALLEY FC (SATURDAY 8 P.M.)
The Roughnecks enter their second match on the back of the aforementioned 4-1 victory over the Switchbacks in Week 1. They’ll hope to continue that high level of performance in Week 2 when they take on Rio Grande Valley FC. RGVFC had the debut of their beautiful new stadium spoiled when they fell to in-state rival San Antonio FC, but will hope to bounce back on the road in week two.
SAINT LOUIS FC VS. OTTAWA FURY FC (SATURDAY 8:30 P.M.)
Saint Louis FC kicked off the season last weekend when they took on Louisville City FC in the debut match of the league in a second-division format, which unfortunately ended in a scoreless draw. They’ll hope to put some digits on the board on Saturday when they take on the Ottawa Fury, freshly joined from the NASL and ready to begin their USL tenure.
SAN ANTONIO FC VS. LA GALAXY II (SATURDAY 8:30 P.M.)
San Antonio FC had a dream debut to the season last weekend, as they spoiled the debut of local rivals RGVFC and their new stadium with a solid 1-0 victory. This week they’ll take on the LA Galaxy II as Los Dos enter their second match of the year on the heels of their 2-0 debut victory against the Vancouver Whitecaps FC 2.
RENO 1868 FC VS. VANCOUVER WHITECAPS FC 2 (SATURDAY 10 P.M.)
Reno 1868 didn’t begin their USL tenure as hoped on the opening weekend of play as they fell to a strong Orange County SC team by a 2-0 scoreline. They’ll hope to do better in their second shot at home as they take on a Whitecaps FC 2 team that fell by the same scoreline last weekend to the Galaxy II. The 2016 playoff team will hope to disappoint the young franchise as they seek their first win of the year.
SACRAMENTO REPUBLIC VS. ORANGE COUNTY SC (SATURDAY 10:30 P.M.)
The Sacramento Republic enter Saturday off an impressive come from behind victory over Sounders 2 last weekend. Now they’ll face off against Orange County SC, coming off their own victory, in what is likely to be the match of the weekend. Both teams looked calmly impressive in Week 1, and both will seek to make a statement against the other in week two.
SEATTLE SOUNDERS 2 VS. PORTLAND TIMBERS 2 (SUNDAY 5 P.M.)
This Cascadia rivalry makes the jump from MLS to USL this weekend, as the Sounders 2 and Timbers 2 face off in Seattle. The Sounders 2 opened their season by taking a lead against the Republic, only to surrender two later goals and drop all three points in their debut. The Timbers 2 enter their third match of the year already, after falling to Real Monarchs on Saturday before losing to the Swope Park Rangers during Wednesday’s mid-week action.