Tampa Bay Sports Day

USL Weekend Preview – Conference Quarterfinals

TAMPA, Fla. – The 2017 USL Cup Playoffs kick off on the road to the USL Cup begins with 16 teams vying to be crowned champion on Nov. 13, with the top seeds in both the Eastern and Western Conferences opening the weekend’s action across the country.

Every game of the 2017 USL Cup Playoffs through the Eastern and Western Conference Finals will be available on the league’s Match Center, with updates from across the league also available via Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.
The 2017 USL Cup will air live on ESPNU and SiriusXM FC on Monday, Nov. 13 at 9 p.m. ET.
Friday, October 20
No. 1 Louisville City FC vs. No. 8 Bethlehem Steel FC
7:30 p.m. ET, Slugger Field (Match Center | Full Preview)
Louisville City FC opens its bid to reach the USL Cup for the first time when it plays host to postseason newcomer Bethlehem Steel FC. Louisville has gone a perfect 3-0-0 in its postseason history at Slugger Field, and is coming in off back-to-back victories to close the regular season to finish with an 11-2-3 home regular during the regular season. Steel FC was one of the teams to depart Slugger Field with points this season, however, as the teams played to a 2-2 draw on Sept. 15 in their most recent meeting when goals by Cory Burke and Santi Moar for Bethlehem were answered by Louisville’s standout wingbacks Kyle Smith and Oscar Jimenez.
Saturday, October 21
No. 4 Rochester Rhinos vs. No. 5 Charlotte Independence
6:05 p.m. ET, Capelli Sport Stadium (Match Center | Full Preview)
The Rochester Rhinos and Charlotte Independence will have a feeling of déja vu as they meet at the same stage, with the same seeding, at the same venue for a second successive postseason. The teams are coming on very different paths, with the Rhinos having completed the regular season on a three-game winning streak, and the Independence sitting on a five-game losing streak that ended their hopes of a first home playoff game in club history. Each team took victory on home turf in the regular season this year, and with the memory of last season’s loss in the back of their minds the Independence could be ready for revenge this time around.
No. 2 Charleston Battery vs. No. 7 New York Red Bulls II
7 p.m. ET, MUSC Health Stadium (Match Center | Full Preview)
The only conference quarterfinal to feature two former USL Cup winners is set for the beautiful backdrop of MUSC Health Stadium as the Charleston Battery host the New York Red Bulls II. The Battery enter the playoffs with their highest seeding in the USL era, and took a pair of shutout victories to close out the regular season as they look to add to their four prior league championships. The Red Bulls II have a chance to make history, with no team having claimed back-to-back USL Cup victories. With a potent attack that struck 57 times in the regular season, New York could be a threat to spring a surprise on the road, having taken one win and one draw in its two meetings with the Battery this season.
No. 3 Tampa Bay Rowdies vs. No. 6 FC Cincinnati
7:30 p.m. ET, Al Lang Stadium (Match Center | Full Preview)
The Tampa Bay Rowdies make their USL Cup Playoffs debut as they play host to an FC Cincinnati side that is looking to make a similar run to that which took it to the Semifinals of the 2017 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup earlier this year. FCC has struggled on the road this season, though, going 4-8-4 on the road, but the side pushed into the No. 6-seed after a 4-3 comeback victory against Toronto FC II last Saturday night. Tampa Bay has been one of the best home teams in the USL this season, going 11-1-4 at Al Lang Stadium, and has not lost in three prior meetings with FCC.
Friday, October 20
No. 1 Real Monarchs SLC vs. No. 8 Sacramento Republic FC
10 p.m. ET, Rio Tinto Stadium (Match Center | Full Preview)
Real Monarchs SLC begins its quest to add to the 2017 USL Regular Season Championship as it welcomes 2014 champion Sacramento Republic FC for the first postseason contest in the Monarchs’ history. Real finished the regular season five points clear of its closest rival, and is on a seven-game undefeated streak entering the postseason. Sacramento will hit the road for the first time in the postseason in club history after playing to a 2-2 draw with Reno 1868 FC last season to finish eighth in the West. Republic FC will have to try and solve a Monarchs squad that took a pair of 2-0 victories when the teams met in the regular season if it is to avoid going out in the Western Conference Quarterfinals for a third successive season.
Saturday, October 21
No. 2 San Antonio FC vs. No. 7 Tulsa Roughnecks FC
8:30 p.m. ET, Toyota Field (Match Center | Full Preview)
The only matchup featuring two playoff newcomers is set for Toyota Field as San Antonio FC looks to build off a strong final week of the regular season as it welcomes Tulsa Roughnecks FC to Texas. SAFC lost only once on home turf in the regular season, and took back-to-back victories in the final week of the regular season to edge out Reno 1868 FC for second place in the conference. Midseason addition Ever Guzman enters the postseason on a hot streak, having notched four goals and one assist in October. The Roughnecks will be hoping to continue a remarkable turnaround season that saw the side more than double its wins and points totals in 2016. While Tulsa fell in both clashes with San Antonio in the USL regular season, the side could draw on its penalty shootout victory when the teams met in the Third Round of the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup earlier this year, when goalkeeper Fabian Cerda was the hero for the Roughnecks.
No. 4 Swope Park Rangers vs. No. 5 Phoenix Rising FC
8:30 p.m. ET, Children’s Mercy Victory Field (Match Center | Full Preview)
The Rangers begin the defense of their Western Conference Championship against one of the two hottest teams in the Western Conference going into the postseason in Phoenix Rising FC. Led by the strike duo of Jason Johnson (13 goals) and Didier Drogba (9 goals), Rising FC surged in the standings over the second half of the season to earn a first trip to the postseason, and only missed out on the No. 4 seed on goal differential. The Rangers have got some solid firepower of their own, with forward Kharlton Belmar having notched a career-high 14 goals in the regular season. Having failed to take victory in prior meetings between the sides, Swope Park faces a strong test to start its second pursuit of the USL Cup.
No. 3 Reno 1868 FC vs. No. 6 OKC Energy FC
8:45 p.m. ET, Greater Nevada Field (Match Center | Full Preview)
Reno 1868 FC makes its USL Cup Playoffs debut against an OKC Energy FC side that is entering its third consecutive postseason, with Reno sporting a single-season USL goal-scoring record and Energy FC a four-game winning streak in a game that could produce some attacking fireworks. Led by USL Golden Boot-winner Dane Kelly (18 goals), 1868 FC recorded 75 goals in its inaugural regular season, and will be looking to continue that level of productivity in the attacking third as it enters the postseason. OKC pulled it all together late in the season, though, with Jose Angulo having notched six goals and three assists in October alone. Energy FC has taken at least one win in its prior two postseason trips, and will be looking to continue that streak with a road upset in front of a passionate 1868 FC fanbase.