Tampa Bay Sports Day

USL: Rowdies Look to Continue Perfect Starts; OKC Welcomes Toros

TAMPA, Fla. – The 2017 USL Regular Season enters its third weekend on Friday night as six teams during this three-day stretch look to continue their perfect starts to the season. The weekend also features a 2016 USL Cup Playoffs rematch of two clubs looking for their first victory of the year.

The first Friday night action of the season sees San Antonio FC welcome Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC to Toyota Field, with SAFC having won its first two games of the season. Also on Friday night, Toronto FC II prepares for its home opener as the Rochester Rhinos head north of the border to the Ontario Soccer Centre.

The Tampa Bay Rowdies will also look to make it three wins in a row to start the season on Saturday night when fellow USL newcomer Ottawa Fury FC visits Al Lang Stadium. Elsewhere in the Eastern Conference, Saint Louis FC will try to build on a rousing home opener when defending USL champion the New York Red Bulls II visit, while in the Western Conference OKC Energy FC hosts its home opener against Rio Grande Valley FC in a rematch of one of last season’s unforgettable postseason contests.

Friday, April 7
San Antonio FC vs. Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC (Match Center)
9 p.m. ET, Toyota Field
San Antonio FC plays host to Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC with the momentum of a home opener victory against the LA Galaxy II in front of 8,081 fans behind it. Head Coach Darren Powell’s side will now try to make it three wins from three against a Switchbacks side that kicks off a two-game trip to Texas.

SAFC (2-0-0, 6pts) has been led this season by Billy Forbes in his return to the Alamo City. With goals in back-to-back games and an assist in a 3-0 victory against Los Dos last Saturday, Forbes has relished the chance to perform in front of SAFC’s fans so far this season. With the backing of a solid new back line that has yet to concede this season, San Antonio has looked ready for liftoff early on in its second USL season.

After a roster overhaul this offseason, the Switchbacks (1-0-1, 4pts) haven’t quite caught fire in the manner they did over the past two seasons, but there have been glimpses that will please Head Coach Steve Trittschuh. Masta Kacher’s first goal for the club last week in a 1-1 draw with OKC Energy FC claimed the USL Fans’ Choice Goal of the Week, and Colorado Springs will likely put up strong resistance to SAFC’s fast-breaking attack.

Saturday, April 8
Tampa Bay Rowdies vs. Ottawa Fury FC (Match Center)
7:30 p.m. ET, Al Lang Stadium
Tampa Bay and Ottawa renew acquaintances coming off opposing results a week ago. The Rowdies aim to end their season-opening home stand with a third consecutive win and Fury FC looks to put a late defeat behind it as the club looks for its first win of the season.

The Rowdies (2-0-0, 6pts) put together one  of the most complete performances in Week 2 when they defeated Toronto FC II 4-0 last Saturday night. Michael Nanchoff had a pair of assists while Damion Lowe, Joe Cole, Georgi Hristov and Deshorn Brown all found the net. Hristov now has two goals in two games to start the season.

Ottawa (0-1-0, 0pts) rallied back from going two goals down against Saint Louis FC in its season opener last Saturday, but conceded a late own goal to fall 3-2 in its first USL contest. Goals by Eddie Edward – his first for Fury FC – and Onua Obasi moved the visitor to the verge of a point at Toyota Stadium – Saint Louis, only for a late counterattack by STLFC to grab all three points.

OKC Energy FC vs. Rio Grande Valley FC (Match Center)
8 p.m. ET, Taft Stadium
OKC Energy FC and Rio Grande Valley FC will both be looking for a change of fortune as OKC hosts its home opener on Saturday night with neither side having found a victory in its opening two games of the 2017 USL season. 

Energy FC (0-1-1, 1pt) earned a 1-1 draw last Saturday in Colorado Springs thanks to Alex Dixon’s  goal, and will carry the memory of last season’s playoff clash with the Toros into the contest at Taft Stadium. Trailing entering stoppage time, OKC got two goals by Colin Bonner to grab a dramatic 3-2 victory in South Texas.

The Toros (0-2-0, 0pts) fell 1-0 for a second consecutive contest last Saturday as Tulsa Roughnecks FC earned the spoils at ONEOK Field. It’s not all doom and gloom for the Toros, who have out-shot and out-passed their opponents in each of their first two games. They will be hoping a little better fortune in front of goal translates to their first three points of the season, and a little revenge for last season’s playoff defeat.

Saint Louis FC vs. New York Red Bulls II (Match Center)
8:30 p.m. ET, Toyota Stadium – Saint Louis
Saint Louis FC will try to continue its undefeated start to the season when it welcomes the defending USL champion New York Red Bulls II on Saturday night, with the Red Bulls II looking to put a midweek defeat quickly behind at a venue where it saw big success in its last visit.

Saint Louis (1-0-1, 4pts) grabbed a 3-2 victory against Ottawa Fury FC last Saturday for the first win under new Head Coach Preki. Forward Christian Volesky – who earned USL Team of the Week honors on Tuesday – had a goal and assist in the opening 10 minutes, but STLFC was pegged back by Ottawa late until Volesky led a counterattack with three minutes to go that ended with Max Alvarez causing an own goal that proved the winner.

New York (1-1-1, 4pts) saw a 12-game regular-season undefeated streak come to an end on Wednesday night when it fell 1-0 to the Harrisburg City Islanders at Red Bull Arena. The Red Bulls II will be hoping to put together a performance that resembles its last trip to Saint Louis, when a 4-1 victory kicked off a season sweep of STLFC in 2015.