Tampa Bay Sports Day

USL: Major Games Feature Louisville, Tampa Bay, Swope Park and Sacramento

Photo by Brian Blanco/Tampa Bay Rowdies

TAMPA, Fla. – The fourth weekend of the 2017 USL Regular Season features not only two major early-season contests, but also arguably the most highly-anticipated home opener of the season.

FC Cincinnati will make its 2017 debut at Nippert Stadium on Saturday night when it plays host to Eastern Conference leader Saint Louis FC. After setting USL records for both overall and single-game attendance in its inaugural year, a massive crowd is expected to be on hand to try and spur FCC to what would be a big early-season win against an STLFC side that is undefeated in four games to start the season.

Slightly further south at Slugger Field, Louisville City FC and the Tampa Bay Rowdies will meet in another marquee matchup, with both sides undefeated and the Rowdies looking to build on three consecutive wins to start their inaugural USL season. Meanwhile in the Western Conference, the 2016 USL Western Conference champion Swope Park Rangers will host Sacramento Republic FC – which enters the weekend tied for the conference lead – aiming to continue its strong start to 2017.

Every game of the 2017 USL season will be available on the league’s Match Center, with updates from across the league also available via Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.

GAMES TO WATCH
Saturday, April 15
FC Cincinnati vs. Saint Louis FC (Match Center)
7 p.m. ET, Nippert Stadium
FC Cincinnati hosts its home opener looking to earn its second win of the season as it welcomes a Saint Louis FC side that moved top of the Eastern Conference with a midweek victory to kick off Week 4. With FCC having almost doubled its season-ticket base, passing 12,000 STMs this offseason, and announcing on Monday that more than 15,000 tickets have been sold, a raucous crowd is expected at Nippert Stadium.

Cincinnati (1-2-0, 3pts) is also looking for a bounce-back victory after falling 2-0 against Bethlehem Steel FC last Sunday to conclude a three-game road trip to start the season. FCC faces a major challenge for its first home stand of the season, with first-place Saint Louis, second-place Tampa Bay and third-place Louisville City FC all set to visit over the upcoming week.

Saint Louis (3-0-1, 10pts) moved to the top of the Eastern Conference on Wednesday night as it took a 2-1 victory against the Pittsburgh Riverhounds at Highmark Stadium. For a second consecutive game STLFC rallied for a victory to down Pittsburgh. Goals by Jose Angulo and Christian Volesky – his third of the season – saw the team to come back from an early deficit.

Louisville City FC vs. Tampa Bay Rowdies (Match Center)
7:30 p.m. ET, Slugger Field
Louisville and Tampa Bay meet for the first time with both teams undefeated to start the season. Louisville will host a “blackout” as it debuts its new third jersey – unveiled earlier this week – as it hopes to break the Rowdies’ three-game shutout streak to start the season.

Louisville (2-0-1, 7pts) is coming off back-to-back victories as it enters its second home game of the season after a 1-0 win on the road against the Richmond Kickers last Saturday. George Davis IV’s second goal of the season lifted City to the victory as the club recorded its second shutout in three games.

The Rowdies (3-0-0, 9pts) also earned a 1-0 victory through Georgi Hristov’s third goal of the season last Saturday night to remain perfect by defeating Ottawa Fury FC to conclude a three-game home stand at Al Lang Stadium. Tampa Bay will also visit Cincinnati on Wednesday before returning home to face the Charleston Battery in a big week ahead for the USL newcomers.

Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC vs. Real Monarchs SLC (Match Center)
8 p.m. ET, Weidner Field
The Rocky Mountain rivalry resumes for a third season as Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC plays host to a Real Monarchs SLC side looking to continue its perfect start to the new season. Colorado Springs is coming off a midweek loss, however, and will be looking to turn things around on its home turf.

The Switchbacks (1-1-2, 5pts) fell 3-1 to Rio Grande Valley FC on Wednesday night at H-E-B Park, leaving the side with two points from its past three games. Chris James scored his first goal for the club against the Toros, but a brace by Memo Rodriguez sent Colorado Springs to its first loss of the season.

The Monarchs (3-0-0, 9pts) took a wild 5-3 victory in their most recent outing as they defeated Reno 1868 FC last Thursday night. Sebastian Velasquez had a goal and assist to lead the side to its third consecutive victory, as Real is off to its best start to a season in club history.

Swope Park Rangers vs. Sacramento Republic FC (Match Center)
8 p.m. ET, Children’s Mercy Victory Field
The Swope Park Rangers host Sacramento Republic FC in their first game of April aiming to build on a two-game winning streak to start the defense of their Western Conference Championship. Republic FC had earned three consecutive wins to start the season, but fell in midweek, and will be targeting a bounce-back performance to end a three-game road spell.

The Rangers (2-0-0, 6pts) last took the field in a 1-0 win on March 29 against the Portland Timbers 2 that included Kharlton Belmar scoring his second goal in as many games. Swope Park had a bye in Week 3, but would move level on points with Republic FC with a win on home turf as it concludes a three-game home stand.

Sacramento (3-1-0, 9pts) fell in the USL Game of the Week on ESPN3 on Tuesday night against OKC Energy FC as Miguel Gonzalez’s highlight-reel goal earned the host a 1-0 victory at Taft Stadium. Republic FC sits second in the league with eight goals, however, and will hope avoid back-to-back defeats before it returns to Papa Murphy’s Park next weekend.