Photo courtesy Em-Dash Photography / Louisville City FC
Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC is the last team left undefeated in the USL this season as they enter Friday night’s game with Indy Eleven at Highmark Stadium (7 p.m. ET | Match Center | ESPN+) having gone seven games without a loss so far in 2018.
The Hounds have put up some notable achievements already in that run, including holding all four prior opponents that have visited the venue on the banks of the Monongahela River scoreless while moving into the top three in the Eastern Conference. As we’ll find out below, however, the side has a long way to go before it gets close to some of the high watermarks set in previous seasons in the USL’s modern era.
Photo courtesy Richmond Kickers
The Richmond Kickers have twice made the longest undefeated start to a season in USL history, going seven games undefeated to start the inaugural season in the league’s modern era in 2011, but the club’s 22-game undefeated streak to open the 2013 season still stands as the longest run without a loss of any kind in the league’s history. Led by veterans like current Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC midfielder Luke Vercollone and standout striker Matt Delicate, the Kickers rode their 13-0-9 start to the USL Regular Season Championship that season with three games to spare.
There were a couple of close calls that saw the run almost end prior to the club’s only loss of the regular season against the Charleston Battery. Conor Shanosky scored a 92nd-minute equalizer in just the fifth game of the season to earn a 3-3 draw with the Charlotte Eagles, while Shane Johnson had a 90th-minute equalizer in a 2-2 draw later in the season in Phoenix, but notably picked up some big road wins along the way as well, including a 2-0 victory against Orlando City SC at the Florida Citrus Bowl that saw current Orange County SC forward Michael Seaton and current Louisville City FC midfielder Brian Ownby find the net.
Photo courtesy Mark Thor / Orlando City SC
Orlando City SC’s move to Major League Soccer in 2015 had already been announced prior to the start of the season, but the Lions almost went out on a historic note as they made a serious run at toppling the Kickers’ streak from a season before. Led by Trinidad & Tobago international Kevin Molino – who picked up his second USL Most Valuable Player award following the season after recording a then-league record 20 goals and nine assists to lead the USL in both categories – Orlando came up just short on the road against Rochester to end their pursuit four games short.
Maybe the most impressive thing about the Lions’ run was the manner in which they won. The Lions racked up six- and eight-game winning streaks in going 15-0-3 to start the season, which would set up the club’s third USL Regular Season Championship in four seasons. The Lions trailed in all three draws in that span, which all ended 1-1, before the streak came to an end with Colin Rolfe the scorer in Rochester in a 1-0 victory for the Rhinos.
Photo courtesy Em-Dash Photography / Louisville City FC
Louisville City FC’s undefeated streak during the club’s second season began in its third game of the year in early April and carried more than three months before finally coming to an end on July 23. Having suffered defeat in the club’s home opener against the New York Red Bulls II – more on them in a minute – Louisville rode the scoring exploits of Chandler Hoffman, who finished with 14 goals in the regular season, and a deep, versatile squad under Head Coach James O’Connor’s leadership to another strong finish in the Eastern Conference standings.
Louisville went 11-0-6 over the course of its streak, which included a 3-2 victory against FC Cincinnati on a hat trick by Hoffman in the first playing of the River Cities Cup on April 16 at Nippert Stadium. The side only had to rally once to earn a draw over that span as well, with Conor Shanosky scoring with four minutes to go in a 2-2 draw with Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC on April 27 to keep the streak moving, and only trailed four times overall as it came back to win on the three other occasions.
Photo courtesy Ben Solomon / New York Red Bulls II
The New York Red Bulls II lost only three games in the 2016 season, which led to a pair of double-digit undefeated streaks over the course of the season for Head Coach John Wolyniec’s side, but the club’s 14-game streak is notable because it is the longest in league history that culminated with the club raising the USL Cup at the end of the season.
The Red Bulls II put in a 12-game undefeated streak that saw the side go 9-0-3 to move to the top of the Eastern Conference by mid-July, but then back-to-back defeats against the Charleston Battery and Richmond Kickers opened the door for a challenge as the calendar turned to August. A pair of five-goal performances quickly righted the ship before USL Rookie of the Year Brandon Allen scored the decisive goal in a 1-0 win against Louisville City FC on August 19. New York had a close call in Rochester in the penultimate game of the regular season before Vincent Bezecourt recorded an 88th-minute equalizer for the visitors, and then twice the side had to rally to win in a penalty shootout in the postseason against the Rhinos and Louisville City FC, but the club capped its run with a 5-1 victory that saw Allen score a hat trick against the Swope Park Rangers to claim the USL Cup in style.
Photo courtesy Real Monarchs SLC
Real Monarchs SLC’s streak is easily the shortest of the five listed here and wasn’t the longest undefeated streak in the USL in the 2017 season as San Antonio FC went 14 games without defeat to start the year. It earns its spot, however, as for almost two months all the Monarchs did was win, setting a league record with a nine-game winning streak that broke the USL regular-season record set by Orlando City SC in the 2014 season.
Starting with a 3-1 victory against Seattle Sounders FC 2 on April 22, the Monarchs ran past San Antonio in the Western Conference standings as SAFC went 10-0-4 compared to Real’s 12-1-1 start to the season. Arguably the most notable thing about the Monarchs’ nine-game winning run, however, was that the side trailed for only five minutes in that span with Chandler Hoffman scoring five minutes after Josh Suggs had given Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC a 25th-minute lead on May 20 in a game Real would end up winning 5-2 as both Hoffman and Sebastian Velasquez scored twice.