July Brings Halfway Mark For USL Teams, June Makes Some Wish It Was Over
All USL teams have or will have played half of their 2017 season schedule by this time next week. But there are probably a few teams in the league that would just as soon it was already over.
Western Conference: Swope Sweep Through June
Real Monarchs of SLC are likely one of those teams that wish the season was done. Monarchs put 3 past OKC Energy and goalkeeper Cody Laurendi’s new top-knot last week to notch an important 3-1 home victory. SLC was bouncing back after suffering only their second loss of 2017 the previous week. Monarchs’ lead in the Western Conference had seemed nearly unassailable until about two weeks ago.
Both SLC and second place San Antonio FC were cruising back then. But Swope Park Rangers went undefeated for the month of June. Now that both conference leaders have stumbled just a bit SPR is closing fast.
Eastern Conference: Summer is One as Charlotte and Bethlehem Heat Up
For quite a while the USL Eastern Conference seemed a two-team race. Tampa Bay Rowdies threatened to make it three now and again, but mostly Charleston Battery and Louisville City FC only had eyes for one another.
About a month ago Louisville City defeated Charlotte, 1-0, at home. The Independence, who opened a new facility last month, haven’t been beaten since. Two weeks prior to that, Battery won a 1-0 victory away to Bethlehem. The Steel, now just 11 points off the conference lead, have also been undefeated since.
So it’s getting crowded at the top of the conference tables. It’s July, did you think it wouldn’t be hot?
Here’s a look at a couple of interesting match-ups for the weekend.
Portland Timbers 2 (H) vs LA Galaxy II
Last Time Out: If there were two other teams that probably wish 2017 was behind them already it is these two west coast rivals. PT2 and LAG II have won a combined 4 games this year. Together they have such a poor goal differential that each of them is basically 1 goal down from the moment the ref blows the opening whistle. Last time out LAG II were defeated in record fashion away to Reno, 0-9. PT2 did a bit better, drawing away to Orange County at 3. It was, however, Portland’s first non-loss since May 10.
Players To Watch For: PT2 keeper, Kendall McIntosh has started 10 of his club’s 16 matches this year including the draw on July 1. But he has yet to register a single clean sheet. He does, however, lead the entire USL in saves. All of which means that he is capable, but facing way too many shots. If he draws the start in this sort of game he might just emerge as the keeper Portland needs. Desperately.
How To Watch: Click below for the live stream, Sun., July 9, 5p ET.
Charleston Battery (H) vs Louisville City FC
Last Time Out: These two sides met just one short month ago and played a great match, drawing at 4 on this same grounds. Louisville has only dropped one match since and is just 6 points behind on the table. They are also only one point ahead of Tampa Bay Rowdies and 3-, and 5 to Charlotte and Bethlehem respectively. TBR tapped the brakes on their recent 2 match losing streak with a big home win over Cincinnati at midweek (see video link below). Another tie is not likely to be enough to help either Charleston or Louisville very much at all.
Players To Watch For: Gunners’ star forward Romario Williams will be in San Diego with the Jamaican national team this week competing in CONCACAF’s Gold Cup. The absence of Williams’ 13 goals will put extra pressure on line mate, Heviel Cordoves, and midfielder Maikel Chang to step up their production.
How To Watch: Click below for the live stream, Fri. July 8, 7p ET.