Week 7 of USL is set to kick off on Friday night with the team making the most waves on and off the field in 2018.
The Las Vegas Lights FC have been a fantastic addition to the USL, finding ways to make headlines week in and week out. The off the field attention has been matched by strong results, and they could be a dark horse for finishing in one of the top spots in the western conference.
Let’s take a look at the five matches you should watch this weekend:
Las Vegas Lights FC vs. San Antonio FC
SAFC have dug themselves a hole to start the 2018 season. After failing to register a win in their last four matches, and sitting in 12th place in the Western Conference, climbing out will take a few big road results.
Lights FC are one of two undefeated teams in the West and they are having a fantastic debut season. A win this weekend could have them back in the top half of the table with games in hand over almost every other team above them.
Charleston Battery vs. Tampa Bay Rowdies
The Battery seemed to have figured some things out since losing to New York Red Bulls II a month ago, and are now unbeaten in their last three matches. Their midweek win over Atlanta United 2 is a sign that this team could be ready to make a serious run over the next few weeks.
The Rowdies also seemed to regain some mojo after falling to the same Red Bulls II a pair of weeks ago. Last weekend, they defeated Real Monarchs SLC, taking down one of the Western Conference’s best teams. The Rowdies are getting results, but almost exclusively at home. Winning on the road could be a big step forward for the team.
Charlotte Independence vs. Indy Eleven
Indy Eleven’s first few matches in USL show the former NASL team to be adjusting well to life in a new league. Their three wins this season though are against lower competition in the Eastern Conference. The Independence should offer a more significant challenge to the newcomers.
Charlotte are a strong team running through a tough stretch. They are winless in their last three matches, and all three results came against newcomers in 2018. Can Indy Eleven be the fourth straight new team that figures out how to stop the high powered Independence offense?
Pittsburgh Riverhounds vs. Atlanta United 2
The Riverhounds play a heavily defensive style, something that head coach Bob Lilley is known for. Last weekend, they gave up their first two goals of the season, a testament to their improvement. In 2017, the Riverhounds were 1-2-2 after five matches, having surrendered eight goals.
ATL 2 might be new to the league, but they are adjusting to life in the USL well. They remain the only team to earn a point against Louisville City FC, and even though they have only won a single match thus far, they are still showing offensive strength that could lead them to the playoffs.
Swope Park Rangers vs. Saint Louis FC
The Rangers and STLFC are sitting beside each other in the Western Conference standings. STLFC had a bumpy 2017, and are now undefeated in their last four matches. The rivalry between the Rangers and STLFC is set to offer plenty of fireworks as both teams are showing offensive power while maybe not always getting it done at the back.
Kharlton Belmar is leading the league with 7 goals, and he appears to have regained his scoring touch after a pair of matches that saw him go scoreless. The Western Conference is tightly compacted, and the perennial power of the Rangers are within striking distance of the top spot. Taking care of business at home will go a long way to getting into the playoffs and home field advantage.