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USL's Week Ahead - Indy hosts Rivalry Week as FCC, Louisville Visit

By NICHOLAS MURRAY - nicholas.murray@uslsoccer.com, 05/01/18, 12:30PM EDT

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High-profile contests set for Lucas Oil Stadium in busy week of action across the league


Photo courtesy Matt Schlotzhauer / Indy Eleven

TAMPA, Fla. – One of the new arrivals to the USL this season will be center stage in both of its outings to highlight Week 8 of the 2018 USL regular season, as Indy Eleven plays host to both FC Cincinnati and Louisville City FC at Lucas Oil Stadium. The matches are two of the major highlights over the next seven days that will see 20 games across the league. After a weekend that saw the USL reach a half-million in total attendance faster than any previous season, as well as Monday night’s opening of Real Monarchs SLC’s new home at Zions Bank Stadium, the upcoming week brings some intriguing matchups, including a meeting of Western Conference contenders when Orange County SC visits Real Monarchs SLC on Friday night, a Southern Derby clash between the Charleston Battery and Charlotte Independence at MUSC Health Stadium on Saturday night and a rematch of one of last season’s memorable postseason encounters as OKC Energy FC plays host to the Swope Park Rangers at Taft Stadium.

All 561 regular-season games, the 2018 USL Cup Playoffs and the 2018 USL Cup can be accessed via USLSoccer.com’s Match Center.

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In the USL’s 11 Things to Know, Nicholas Murray looks at an FC Cincinnati side that produced a tremendous second-half display highlighted by Kenney Walker’s 50-yard wonder-strike on Saturday, a Louisville City FC side that remains difficult to stop in its pursuit of a second consecutive USL Cup and a resurgence in Reno led by two local standouts in Kevin Partida and Danny Musovski.

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Photo courtesy Real Monarchs SLC

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USL REGULAR SEASON SPOTLIGHT | RAPID-FIRE PREVIEWS


Photo courtesy Zach Bland / Charleston Battery

Wednesday, May 2
Ottawa Fury FC vs. New York Red Bulls II

TD Place, Ottawa, Ontario | 10:30 a.m. ET
Ottawa Fury FC (0-4-1, 1pt) plays host to the New York Red Bulls II (3-1-3, 12pts) in its annual School Day game at TD Place, looking for both its first win of the season and a bounce-back performance on home turf. Fury FC conceded three second-half goals to fall to FC Cincinnati on Saturday afternoon to remain winless this season and currently sit on the bottom of the Eastern Conference as a result. The Red Bulls II have yet to win away from home this season, however, having played to a 0-0 draw on Saturday evening against Toronto FC II in its first game north of the border, as Stefano Bonomo had a second-half penalty kick saved by TFC II goalkeeper Caleb Patterson-Sewell to keep the game scoreless. Sitting on a five-game undefeated streak, the Red Bulls II would move within a point of Louisville at the top of the Eastern Conference should it claim all three points.

Rio Grande Valley FC vs. Reno 1868 FC
H-E-B Park, Edinburg, Texas | 11:30 a.m. ET
Rio Grande Valley FC (1-3-2, 5pts) will try to build on its first win of the season when it plays host to Reno 1868 FC (2-3-1, 7pts) in a special School Day game that was originally scheduled for March 28. The Toros snapped Orange County SC’s four-game winning streak last Wednesday night with a 2-0 victory that saw Memo Rodriguez and Aldo Quintanilla find the net for the hosts, earning Head Coach Gerson Echeverry his first win in charge of the team. Reno arrives in good form, too, having taken victory in each of its past two outings. 1868 FC defeated OKC Energy FC 2-0 last Saturday as local standout Kevin Partida scored his first professional goal to provide the breakthrough in the second half.

Indy Eleven vs. FC Cincinnati
Lucas Oil Stadium, Indianapolis, Indiana | 7 p.m. ET (ESPN3)
Indy Eleven (3-1-1, 10pts) and FC Cincinnati (3-1-2, 11pts) meet for the second time this season at Lucas Oil Stadium for the USL Game of the Week, with Indy looking for a modicum of revenge after Cincinnati’s victory in the first league meeting between the clubs in March. FCC took a 1-0 victory when the teams met in the Eleven’s home opener, as Emery Welshman scored the only goal and goalkeeper Evan Newton recorded a six-save shutout to thwart the hosts. Indy has gone on a three-game undefeated streak since then, including a 0-0 draw with the Charlotte Independence this past Saturday, while Cincinnati broke a three-game winless streak in its last outing with a 3-0 win against Ottawa Fury FC that saw Kenney Walker score a contender for USL Goal of the Year with a 50-yard volley that landed at No. 1 on ESPN’s SportsCenter Top 10 on Saturday night.

Portland Timbers 2 vs. Sacramento Republic FC
Providence Park, Portland, Oregon | 10 p.m. ET
Sacramento Republic FC (4-0-3, 15pts) will look to continue its undefeated start to the season as it opens a two-game trip to Cascadia with a contest against the Portland Timbers 2 (3-3-1, 10pts). Sacramento remained undefeated this past Saturday thanks to a late equalizer by Luis Espino that earned a 1-1 draw with Tulsa Roughnecks FC at Papa Murphy’s Park – a result that continued the club’s run of alternating wins and draws over its past six games. Portland had its two-game winning streak snapped in its last outing as it fell 2-1 to Reno 1868 FC on April 21, but after a week off, T2 should provide a solid test for Sacramento as it looks to surpass its win total from the 2017 season on the big stage at Providence Park.

Friday, May 4
Penn FC vs. Tampa Bay Rowdies

FNB Field, Harrisburg, Pennsylvania | 7 p.m. ET
Penn FC (0-2-4, 4pts) will aim for its first win of the season as it plays host to the Tampa Bay Rowdies (4-3-0, 12pts) for the first of two games in a four-day span on home turf at FNB Field. Penn fell for the first time since its opening game of the season this past Saturday as it lost 3-0 to North Carolina FC, breaking a run of four consecutive draws, but might be hopeful of earning a result against the Rowdies, who have struggled for results away from Al Lang Stadium this season. Tampa Bay suffered its third consecutive road defeat this past Saturday against the Charleston Battery to fall four points back of Eastern Conference leader Louisville City FC. The game will be a reunion for Penn Head Coach Raoul Voss, who served as an assistant to Rowdies Head Coach Stuart Campbell before taking the position in Pennsylvania this offseason, and for Penn forward Tommy Heinemann, who played for Tampa Bay in the 2016 season.

Real Monarchs SLC vs. Orange County SC
Zions Bank Stadium, Herriman, Utah | 9 p.m. ET
Real Monarchs SLC (4-1-1, 13pts) will try to pull level on points with Orange County SC (5-2-1, 16pts) in the race at the top of the Western Conference, while also looking to earn its first victory at its new venue, Zions Bank Stadium. The Monarchs were held to a 0-0 draw by Las Vegas Lights FC before a crowd of 4,065 fans at Zions Bank Stadium’s opening game on Monday night, as the hosts were held scoreless for a second consecutive outing. Orange County enters the week on top of the Western Conference after claiming a 1-0 win against Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC this past Saturday that saw Aodhan Quinn’s early penalty kick prove enough for victory and will be aiming to make a major statement on the road against one of its major rivals for leadership of the conference.

Phoenix Rising FC vs. LA Galaxy II
Phoenix Rising Soccer Complex, Phoenix, Arizona | 10:30 p.m. ET
Phoenix Rising FC (3-1-3, 12pts) will host a blackout on Friday night, wearing its black alternate uniforms for the first time as the LA Galaxy II (0-4-3, 3pts) look to spring a surprise on the road. Rising FC took a 1-0 victory when the teams met for the first time this season on April 11 at StubHub Center Track & Field Stadium, as Didier Drogba scored the lone goal of the game, but since then, Phoenix has twice needed a late equalizer to pick up a pair of draws against the Swope Park Rangers and Fresno FC. Los Dos have struggled greatly to find the net so far this season but played to a 1-1 draw with the New York Red Bulls II in their last outing on April 22 that saw 17-year-old Ulysses Llanez score his first professional goal.

Saturday, May 5
Indy Eleven vs. Louisville City FC

Lucas Oil Stadium, Indianapolis, Indiana | 12 p.m. ET
Indy Eleven faces another regional rival when undefeated Eastern Conference leader Louisville City FC (5-0-1, 16pts) visits Lucas Oil Stadium for the first league meeting between the clubs. Louisville opened a four-point lead at the top of the conference standings this past Saturday, as Cameron Lancaster scored twice in the opening 22 minutes to lead a 3-1 victory against Bethlehem Steel FC at Slugger Field. It will try to add to that advantage against an Indy side that will be coming off Wednesday night’s contest with FC Cincinnati in the USL Game of the Week.

Toronto FC II vs. Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC
Marina Auto Stadium, Rochester, New York | 6 p.m. ET
The first of four games to be played this summer at Rochester’s Marina Auto Stadium will see Toronto FC II (0-4-2, 2pts) look to earn its first win of the season against Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC (3-0-3, 12pts), which enters undefeated. The contest will be a homecoming of sorts for numerous members of the Hounds, including Head Coach Bob Lilley, who previously led the Rochester Rhinos before joining Riverhounds SC this offseason. The Hounds recorded their fifth shutout in six games in their last outing, which allowed Neco Brett’s fourth goal of the season to stand as the winner in a 1-0 win against ATL UTD 2 at Highmark Stadium last Saturday. Toronto took its second point of the season in its most recent contest, as Caleb Patterson-Sewell saved a second-half penalty kick in a 0-0 draw with the New York Red Bulls II.

Charleston Battery vs. Charlotte Independence
MUSC Health Stadium, Charleston, South Carolina | 7 p.m. ET
The Charleston Battery (3-2-2, 11pts) continue their home stand with a visit from Southern Derby rivals the Charlotte Independence (2-2-2, 8pts) aiming to build on a two-game winning streak that pushed the Battery back into the top eight in the Eastern Conference. Ataulla Guerra scored the only goal of the game this past Saturday as the Battery took a 1-0 victory against the Tampa Bay Rowdies to open a five-game home stint that runs through most of May. The Independence also took points from their most recent outing, a 0-0 draw with Indy Eleven at the Sportsplex at Matthews, but will enter Saturday’s game looking to break a four-game winless streak as they visit their regional rival.

FC Cincinnati vs. ATL UTD 2
Nippert Stadium, Cincinnati, Ohio | 7 p.m. ET
FC Cincinnati returns home after its midweek trip to Indiana to play host to ATL UTD 2 (1-2-3, 6pts) in the first meeting between the two clubs. Atlanta is on a two-game losing streak after falling to both the Charleston Battery and Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC in Week 7 of the season but will be hoping the additional rest might allow it to get a jump on its hosts after FCC’s rivalry clash with Indy Eleven on Wednesday night. Atlanta has been held scoreless in each of its past two outings, though, as it faces a Cincinnati defense that has allowed only three goals in six games going into this week’s action.

Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC vs. Reno 1868 FC
Weidner Field, Colorado Springs, Colorado | 8 p.m. ET
Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC (3-5-1, 10pts) will try to snap a three-game winless streak when it hosts a Reno 1868 FC that will make its way north from Texas for its second game of Week 8. The Switchbacks are 0-2-1 over recent outings after a 1-0 defeat to Orange County SC this past Saturday and have been held scoreless in each of their past two outings. Colorado Springs posted its biggest attacking output of the season when it faced Reno for the first time this season on April 14, however, when the visitors took a 4-0 victory at Greater Nevada Field. After visiting Rio Grande Valley FC to kick off the week on Wednesday, 1868 FC will have that in the back of its mind as it looks for potential revenge.

OKC Energy FC vs. Swope Park Rangers
Taft Stadium, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma | 8 p.m. ET
OKC Energy FC (1-6-0, 3pts) plays host to the Swope Park Rangers (3-1-3, 12pts) on Saturday night in the first meeting between the clubs since the Rangers claimed a penalty-shootout victory in the Western Conference Final of the 2017 USL Cup Playoffs. The team’s fortunes this season have been very different, however, with Energy FC on a six-game losing streak after its 2-0 defeat against Reno 1868 FC this past Saturday. That streak matches the longest in the club’s history from its inaugural season in 2014. The Rangers remain in the mix near the top of the Western Conference, but Swope Park has conceded late goals in each of its past two outings to settle for draws on each occasion after its 1-1 draw with Saint Louis FC this past Saturday night at Children’s Mercy Park.

Saint Louis FC vs. Portland Timbers 2
Toyota Stadium – Saint Louis, Fenton, Missouri | 8:30 p.m. ET
Saint Louis FC (3-1-3, 12pts) will look to build on a five-game undefeated streak when it plays host to a Portland Timbers 2 side that will hit the road for its second game in Week 8. Saint Louis grabbed a late equalizer in a 1-1 draw with the Swope Park Rangers this past Saturday as Kyle Greig scored with two minutes to go, and Sam Fink made a stoppage-time goal-line clearance to clinch a point on the road at Children’s Mercy Park. The five-game undefeated streak is the longest for Saint Louis since it went 3-0-2 between April 2 and May 7 during the 2016 USL regular season.

San Antonio FC vs. Fresno FC
Toyota Field, San Antonio, Texas | 8:30 p.m. ET
San Antonio FC (2-2-3, 9pts) and Fresno FC (2-1-5, 11pts) meet for the second time this season when they square off in Texas on Saturday night. The teams played to a 0-0 draw at Chukchansi Park on April 22, as SAFC goalkeeper Diego Restrepo recorded a six-save shutout to earn the visitors a point in their first meeting. That result was part of a run of four consecutive draws for the Foxes, who were pegged back late in a 1-1 result against Phoenix Rising FC this past Saturday in the opening game of their road trip. San Antonio claimed its second win of the season in its last outing, as its attack put up a season-best performance in a 3-1 victory against Las Vegas Lights FC. SAFC will be hoping that result provides a spark as the club plays its next three games in the state of Texas.

Las Vegas Lights FC vs. Tulsa Roughnecks FC
Cashman Field, Las Vegas, Nevada | 11 p.m. ET
Las Vegas Lights FC (2-1-3, 9pts) will try to claim its first victory since March 31 when it plays host to Tulsa Roughnecks FC (0-3-3, 3pts), which narrowly missed out on its first victory of the season in its last outing. The Roughnecks held a lead for most of the game this past Saturday as it took a second-minute lead through Paris Gee against Sacramento Republic FC at Papa Murphy’s Park but were denied by a late equalizer from Republic FC’s Luis Espino. Lights FC put in a determined defensive display on Monday night to hold Real Monarchs SLC to a 0-0 draw at Zions Bank Stadium after being reduced to 10 men inside the opening 20 minutes and will be hoping former Roughnecks standout Sammy Ochoa can provide impetus for his new club’s attack, as Las Vegas aims to get back in the win column.

Sunday, May 6
New York Red Bulls II vs. Nashville SC

Red Bull Arena, Harrison, New Jersey | 1 p.m. ET
The New York Red Bulls II return home after its midweek game in Canada with a chance to claim its fourth consecutive victory at Red Bull Arena to start the season but will likely get a solid test from Nashville SC (2-2-2, 8pts). Nashville played to a 0-0 draw in its last outing against Penn FC on April 24 to sit in 10th place in the Eastern Conference going into this week’s action as it visits one of the best home teams in the USL.

Seattle Sounders FC 2 vs. Sacramento Republic FC
Cheney Stadium, Tacoma, Washington | 4:30 p.m. ET
Seattle Sounders FC 2 (2-4-1, 7pts) returns to action for the first time since April 21 when it hosts a Sacramento Republic FC side completing its road trip to Cascadia at Cheney Stadium. S2 claimed its first draw of the season in its last outing as it held Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC to a 0-0 draw at Weidner Field. Sunday’s game will be the second meeting between Sacramento and S2 this season, with Republic FC having taken a 1-0 victory at Papa Murphy’s Park on April 7 when Adam Moffatt scored from the penalty spot in a game that saw a combined three players sent off to leave Sacramento playing 10-on-9 to end the game.

Bethlehem Steel FC vs. Richmond Kickers
Goodman Stadium, Bethlehem, Pennsylvania | 5 p.m. ET
The Richmond Kickers (2-3-1, 7pts) will look to build on a victory last time out as it visits Bethlehem Steel FC (1-3-2, 5pts) for the second time this season at Goodman Stadium. The first meeting between the teams proved the high point of Steel FC’s season so far as the hosts took a 4-1 victory on the opening weekend of the regular season, but since then Bethlehem has struggled, going on a five-game winless streak after Saturday’s 3-1 defeat to Louisville City FC. Richmond, meanwhile, has taken two wins in its last four outings to move above Bethlehem in the Eastern Conference, with the Kickers having taken a 2-1 victory against Toronto FC II in its last contest on April 25 at City Stadium.

Monday, May 7
Penn FC vs. Ottawa Fury FC

FNB Field, Harrisburg, Pennsylvania | 6:30 p.m. ET
Penn FC and Ottawa Fury FC will kick off Week 9 of the 2018 USL regular season, and both could still be looking for their first victories of the season after hosting the Tampa Bay Rowdies and New York Red Bulls II respectively in Week 8 action. The game will see a pair of reunions for Penn FC players, however, with goalkeeper Romuald Peiser and forward Tommy Heinemann both having suited up for Fury FC previously, most notably in the club’s excellent 2015 season that saw Ottawa finish with its best record in club history.

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