Charleston hosts Rochester, Orlando faces Harrisburg in key USL PRO action
TAMPA, FL August 15, 2014 – With four weeks to go in the regular season, an eight-game slate in USL PRO this weekend sees key contests in the race for the USL PRO Playoffs, the regular-season championship and playoff seeding. Highlights include a Friday night clash between Charleston and Rochester, and Saturday’s contest between Orlando and Harrisburg.
Charleston Battery vs. Rochester Rhinos, Friday, 7:30 p.m. ET
Friday night’s clash between the two longtime rivals became even more critical for Rochester after Charleston took a 3-2 victory against Orange County on Wednesday night to move into eighth place in the league standings. The Battery would jump past the Rhinos with a win at Blackbaud Stadium, and with Dane Kelly in strong form since the return of Jose Cuevas to the lineup, they’ll likely pose a strong challenge to Rochester’s stout defense.
New York Red Bulls Reserves vs. Wilmington Hammerheads FC, Friday, 8 p.m. ET
The Hammerheads looked poised to push forward after holding a spot in the top eight and games in hand on their rivals, but three consecutive losses have slid them out of the playoff positions. Wilmington will try to reverse that trend as it visits the Red Bulls Reserves at NJIT’s Lubetkin Field. New York fell 3-1 against Harrisburg in its last outing and is currently seventh in the eight-team reserve league after only winning once in seven games this season.
Richmond Kickers vs. Dayton Dutch Lions FC, Saturday, 7 p.m. ET
The Kickers enter the weekend only trailing Orlando by a point, and will be eager to maintain pressure on the Lions as they host Dayton. The Dutch Lions are on an upswing after new coach Matt Weston led them to four points from his first two games in charge, but will face a big challenge from a Richmond side that leads the league with 48 goals in 23 games.
Charlotte Eagles vs. Rochester Rhinos, Saturday, 7 p.m. ET
The Eagles are on the outside looking in as the weekend begins, and will want to take all three points from a Rochester side that they defeated 1-0 at Sahlen’s Stadium earlier this season. Gui Brandao had the goal on that occasion, and after back-to-back losses on the road against the league’s top two teams, Charlotte will be hoping for a bounce-back performance on home turf.
Orlando City SC vs. Harrisburg City Islanders, Saturday, 7:30 p.m. ET
The City Islanders handed the Lions their second loss of the season last Saturday as Robbie Derschang scored twice in a 3-2 victory at Skyline Sports Complex for Harrisburg’s fourth consecutive victory. Orlando will be out for revenge, particularly with Richmond now only a point behind it for top spot in the USL PRO standings, and enters on a 10-game home winning streak in regular-season action.
OKC Energy FC vs. LA Galaxy II, Saturday, 8 p.m. ET
The final meeting of the season between the two teams sees the Galaxy II looking for a season sweep of the four games. OKC has hit a recent skid, falling in its past two games including a 2-1 loss to Arizona United at Pribil Stadium on Thursday night, and is now in a major fight for the final three playoff positions. Energy FC currently sits in a tie for seventh place, with the three teams below within three points as the weekend begins, making a bounce-back victory critical to its playoff hopes.
Arizona United SC vs. Pittsburgh Riverhounds, Saturday, 10:30 p.m. ET
The Riverhounds have rounded into form, taking victory in five of their past seven outings, and will hope to continue their late-season push for the playoffs against an Arizona side that still has playoff aspirations of its own after a 2-1 victory against OKC Energy FC on Thursday night. With five games remaining, a loss for either side would be a crucial blow to its postseason chances, which should lend itself to an exciting contest at the Peoria Sports Complex.
Orange County Blues FC vs. Sacramento Republic FC, Sunday, 7 p.m. ET
Orange County opens a four-game homestand to close out the regular season with a visit from Republic FC as the Blues try to bounce back from a midweek defeat against Charleston that edged them into ninth place in the league standings. The home side has taken a 2-1 victory in each of the first three meetings of the season, but with Sacramento looking to hold off the LA Galaxy II for third place, Republic FC will be hoping to reverse that trend at Anteater Stadium.
All of the weekend’s action at USL PRO venues can be watched live on YouTube, with live updates also available via Twitter (@USLPRO). For news, match previews and reports from across the league, fans can also follow USL PRO on Facebook, Google+ and Instagram.
USL PRO is the strongest U.S. men’s professional soccer league on and off the field below and in support of Major League Soccer (MLS). Focused on league stability and franchise performance longevity, USL PRO features 14 teams, including 2014 expansion teams in Los Angeles, Oklahoma City and Sacramento. Teams have already been announced for 2015 in Austin, Colorado Springs, Louisville, St. Louis and Tulsa, with more additions expected soon. Through aggressive and deliberate growth in adding teams fully capable of meeting USL and US Soccer standards, USL PRO is building a robust, national professional soccer league in a format that promotes the benefits of regional league play. In 2013 USL PRO began a groundbreaking, multi-year partnership with MLS that features individual team affiliations, inter-league play, and the opportunity for MLS clubs to field a second team in USL PRO. In addition to league play, USL PRO teams compete in the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup as well as various domestic and international exhibitions. USL PRO is the longest-standing pro league affiliate member of US Soccer.