USL Kicks Off With 13 Matches During Opening Weekend
The opening weekend of the USL prepares to kick off with two expansion clubs highlighting the first round of matches. Defending champions New York Red Bulls II open the season versus Pittsburgh Riverhounds, while a rivalry matchup between Louisville City FC and Saint Louis FC — deemed as ‘The Kings’ Cup’ — is scheduled for Saturday afternoon.
USL Soccer News: The 2017 United Soccer League (USL) season is here as the world’s largest Division II league opens with 13 games this weekend. Two of the three expansion sides – Reno 1868 FC and the Tampa Bay Rowdies – are making their USL debuts, while the defending champion New York Red Bulls II open their 2017 campaign on the road against the Pittsburgh Riverhounds.
All 480 regular-season games, the 2017 USL Cup Playoffs and the 2017 USL Cup Final can be accessed via USL’s Match Center here.
Saturday, March 25:
Louisville City FC vs. Saint Louis FC, 2 p.m. ET: At Slugger Field in Louisville, the Kings’ Cup kicks off the 2017 season as City FC hosts Eastern Conference rival Saint Louis FC. Saint Louis (8-12-10, 34 points in 2016) has missed the USL Cup Playoffs in its first two seasons but has a revitalized roster with the addition of 2014 USL Coach of the Year Preki.
In its first two seasons, Louisville reached back-to-back Eastern Conference Finals, posting a 17-4-9 regular-season record in 2016 (60 points). Louisville won the 2015 and 2016 editions of the Kings’ Cup, a supporters’ group cup recognizing the season winner based on head-to-head regular-season play.
LA Galaxy II vs. Vancouver Whitecaps FC 2, 5 p.m. ET: At StubHub Center Track & Field Stadium in Carson, Calif., both Western Conference teams enter 2017 with new head coaches from the clubs’ academy ranks. Mike Muñoz leads Galaxy II (12-7-11, 47 points in 2016) and Rich Fagan heads WFC2 (12-9-9, 45 points in 2016) as both teams seek to return to the playoffs.
Pittsburgh Riverhounds vs. New York Red Bulls II, 5 p.m. ET: At Highmark Stadium in Pittsburgh, the defending USL champion Red Bulls II open the season on the road. NYRB II (21-3-6, 69 points in 2016) had a record-breaking 2016 campaign that included USL records in wins (21), road victories (13), points (69) and goals (61) during the regular-season. The Red Bulls II became the first MLS-owned-and-operated USL team to win the 2016 USL Cup Final versus the Swope Park Rangers. Pittsburgh (6-17-7, 25 points in 2016) underwent a coaching change midseason in 2016 as Dave Brandt prepares for his first full campaign.
Richmond Kickers vs. Harrisburg City Islanders, 5 p.m. ET: At City Stadium in Richmond, Va., the Kickers open their 25th anniversary against rival Harrisburg City. Richmond has clinched six consecutive USL Cup Playoffs berths and is coming off a 12-9-9 regular-season record in 2016. Harrisburg (8-15-7, 31 points in 2016) missed the playoffs for a second straight season as they try to find the form that generated USL Cup Final appearances in 2011 and 2014.
Charleston Battery vs. FC Cincinnati, 7 p.m. ET: At MUSC Health Stadium in Charleston, S.C., the Battery host FCC in a rematch of the 2016 Eastern Conference Quarterfinals, where Charleston edged Cincinnati 2-1. Charleston is one of two clubs to advance to the USL Cup Playoffs in every campaign since 2011, while Cincinnati returns with new head coach Alan Koch.
Tampa Bay Rowdies vs. Orlando City B, 7:30 p.m. ET: At Al Lang Stadium in St. Petersburg, Fla., Tampa Bay will be the first 2017 expansion side to open its USL campaign when it hosts in-state rival Orlando City B. Second-year OCB (9-13-8, 35 points in 2016) is coming off a playoff appearance during its first year after advancing with the eighth and final USL Playoffs spot of the Eastern Conference.
Tulsa Roughnecks FC vs. Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC, 8 p.m. ET: At ONEOK Field in Tulsa, Okla., the Switchbacks (14-9-7, 49 points in 2016) are coming off their second straight postseason-clinching campaign. The Roughnecks (5-21-4, 19 points in 2016) will attempt to end their 10-game winless streak (0-9-1) that closed out last season as head coach David Vaudreuil makes his debut for Tulsa.
Swope Park Rangers vs. OKC Energy FC, 8:30 p.m. ET: At Children’s Mercy Victory Field in Kansas City, Mo., last year’s Western Conference champion Rangers (14-10-6, 48 points in 2016) follow up their strong first campaign with a home game against OKC as Nikola Popovic moves from assistant to head coach. OKC (10-7-13, 43 points in 2016) is coming off a second straight playoff appearance that included a dramatic 3-2 comeback victory against Rio Grande Valley FC to open the 2016 USL Cup Playoffs.
Phoenix Rising FC vs. Toronto FC II, 9:30 p.m. ET: At Phoenix Rising Soccer Complex, in Scottsdale Ariz., the rebranded Western Conference side Phoenix (9-14-7, 34 points in 2016) opens up its new venue with a match versus TFC II (7-18-5, 26 points). Both clubs are still in search of their first playoff berths. Phoenix welcome Chivas de Guadalajara’s all-time scoring leader Omar Bravo for the 2017 season.
Reno 1868 FC vs. Orange County SC, 10 p.m. ET: At Greater Nevada Field in Reno, Nev., expansion side Reno, under the direction of head coach Ian Russell, opens up its USL campaign against rebranded Orange County SC (12-14-4, 40 points in 2016). The former Blues side, which upset top-seeded Sacramento Republic FC during its 2016 USL Cup Playoff opener, features the professional coaching debut of former Chicago Fire midfielder Logan Pause.
Portland Timbers 2 vs. Real Monarchs SLC, 10:30 p.m. ET: At Providence Park in Portland, Ore., Timbers 2 hosts Real Monarchs. Former MLS Supporters’ Shield winner and former New York Red Bulls head coach Mike Petke takes the coaching reins for Real (10-14-6, 36 points in 2016) as they face a T2 side (12-4-14, 40 points in 2016) that fell one spot short of clinching a USL Cup Playoffs berth.
Sunday, March 26:
Seattle Sounders FC 2 vs. Sacramento Republic FC, 5 p.m. ET: At Starfire Stadium in Tukwila, Wash., Sacramento (14-6-10, 52 points in 2016) hits the road to take on the Sounders 2 (9-13-8, 35 points in 2016). The fixture marks a repeat season-opening matchup as Sacramento defeated Seattle 1-0 on March 25, 2016, at Starfire.
Rio Grande Valley FC vs. San Antonio FC, 7 p.m. ET: At H-E-B Park, Rio Grande Valley FC (14-7-9, 51 points in 2016) opens its much-anticipated stadium in Edinburg, Texas. The nearly 10,000-seat park serves as the landscape of the South Texas Derby between the Toros – who finished second in the Western Conference standings in 2016, and San Antonio FC (10-12-8, 30 points in 2016), which fell just a couple points shy of a postseason berth.