Week 2 of the USL season is set to kick off this Saturday with a number of great matchups in store.
First up, the Las Vegas Lights FC made a lot of noise heading into the weekend, signing Freddy Adu. Adu has not played a match in the U.S. since 2016 when he spent time with the Tampa Bay Rowdies. A steady opportunity could be just what the doctor ordered for Adu.
Then, Indy Eleven make their debut in USL under head coach Martin Rennie. A number of NASL/MLS veterans make up the Indy Eleven roster, and they will hope that the veteran leadership with make the a force to reckon with when they take on the Richmond Kickers Saturday.
Let’s take a look at the rest of the games ahead in Week 2:
Saturday, March 24
Louisville City FC v. North Carolina FC
LCFC got things started on the right foot against one USL newcomer, and now welcomes another to the league Saturday afternoon. NCFC fell victim to the Tampa Bay Rowdies in week one, but managed to put in a decent shift against one of the eastern conferences best teams. LCFC will present another significant test for the former NASL side, but a statement win on the road could be just what the doctor ordered.
Richmond Kickers v. Indy Eleven
The Kickers should fare better at home than they did in week 1 against Bethlehem Steel FC, but Indy Eleven looks like a quality side that is ready to make some noise. With Major League Soccer vets across the team and coaching staff, Indy Eleven don’t look like they will suffer from opening night jitters.
Nashville SC v. Pittsburgh Riverhounds
The revamped Riverhounds start the season on the road this Saturday, but there are reasons for optimism amongst the Pittsburgh faithful. First year head coach Bob Lilley carries championship pedigree to a club that has struggled to find consistency. NSC will want to spoil the party in their home opener, erasing a tough loss in week 1 to LCSC.
Atlanta United 2 v. New York Red Bulls II
Last year, the MLS equivalents of Atlanta United and the New York Red Bulls faced off the in the former’s first league match. Atlanta United 2 could exact a measure of revenge against the Red Bulls II, but don’t count the visitors out. The Red Bulls may not have scored buckets in week 1, but they created lots of problems for the TFC II backline, hitting 31 shots throughout the match. If Brian White can find the back of the net in week 2, the Red Bulls II will roll.
Charleston Battery v. Penn FC
FC Cincinnati ruined the party in week 1, snatching a road win away from Charleston Battery. The Battery will like their chances against Penn FC, who are in the midst of a team rebrand after having played under the moniker Harrisburg City Islanders for the prior 14 seasons. The Battery are still learning to cope with the loss of Romario Williams and have had trouble finding wins since his departure.
Charlotte Independence v. Toronto FC II
The Independence cruised in week 1 over Ottawa Fury, scoring seemingly at will on the way to a 4-1 win. TFC II maintains a more disciplined backline, but still managed to concede 31 shots to the Red Bulls II in week 1. If the Independence can keep the engine roaring against TFC II, this one could get out of hand. For Ben Spencer and TFC II, finding the killer instinct will be on the menu after squandering chances during their 2-1 loss to the aforementioned Red Bulls II.
Tampa Bay Rowdies v. Bethlehem Steel FC
A great early test for two teams that came flying out of the gate. Last week, the Rowdies won big over NCFC 3-1 on the road, and they’ll be looking to extend the win streak to 2 games when they welcome Bethlehem Steel FC. The Steel ran riot all over the Kickers in week 1, but they will need to show consistency and growth to push the Rowdies at home.
Swope Park Rangers v. Seattle Sounders FC 2
The Rangers had an exciting match in week 1, but will hope that the snowy weather played a factor in their porous defense on the night. Kharlton Belmar had a monster game, scoring twice and assisting twice on their way to a last minute 4-3 road win to open the season. The Sounders FC 2 had an easier time defeating the Timbers 2, but the Rangers pedigree alone should give the visitors pause. If they can remain compact and snatch a goal, the Sounders might be able to ride out the attacking storm.
Fresno FC v. LA Galaxy II
FFC was just a bit unlucky not to find themselves with a point after scoring two late goals against Las Vegas Lights FC in week 1. This week, they will welcome LA Galaxy 2 who struggled to put up much of a fight against the Colorado Springs Switchbacks. At the end of the day, they can rest assured that they are capable of picking up a point on newcomers FFC, but can they create better opportunities for themselves?
Orange County SC v. Sacramento Republic FC
OCSC found a way to grab a point against Phoenix Rising FC in week 1, but will hope they don’t need to rely on late equalizers at home to pick up points this season. Sac Republic have been one of the best teams int he western conference over the last three seasons, and they will want to build on their week 1 win over San Antonio FC. If Villyan Bijev keeps up his run of form, Sac Republic can make it two for two.
Phoenix Rising FC v. OKC Energy FC
Phoenix Rising shared the spoils in week 1, while OKC Energy proved too much for their in-state rivals. Phoenix Rising are looking to find success on and off the field with a dream of joining MLS, and getting their house in order this season should be priority number one. After finishing 2017 strong, it is imperative that they get off on the right foot in 2018. OKC Energy have a relatively light schedule to start the season, so maximizing points now could play a big part into where they stand come playoff time.
Las Vegas Lights FC v. Reno 1868 FC 11PM
The most talked about team in USL will make their home debut Saturday night and made a big splash signing former U.S. Men’s National Team wunderkind Freddy Adu on Thursday. LVLFC showed in week 1 that they can be an attacking force, but their defense nearly coughed up a three goal lead in the second half against Fresno FC. 1868 FC thought they earned a point, twice coming from behind against Swope Park Rangers, but gave up a late winner in the 90+2 minute in week 1. If LVLFC aren’t careful, this one could turn into a shootout.