USL Week 3 Preview: Battery look to continue surge, more

Image, USL

by ANTHONY J. MERCED
USL Beat Writer

Week 3 in the USL sees ambitious challenges thrown at the feet of teams who are certainly in need of motivation.

Harrisburg City Islanders head coach Bill Becher went out of his way to set the bar rather high saying that his side should return to the USL Championship game — and win. The team hasn’t had the greatest of starts, dropping their first game to the Pittsburgh Riverhounds, but now hope to get back on track against Charleston Battery who remain undefeated after two games. Louisville City also hopes to keep the momentum going as they take to the road against the Richmond Kickers and Sacramento looks to hand Portland their first defeat ahead of their home opener in a week’s time.

Charleston Battery Are Off to a High Scoring Start

Charleston’s two wins to start the season have been powered by their high scoring offense, despite a suspect defense. Against Toronto, they fell behind 2-0 before clawing their way back to an epic home victory in their home opener. One week later in a burgeoning rivalry against Charlotte Independence, the Battery took an early lead before giving it back. In the end they were able to hold on for yet another 3-2 victory. One thing for sure is that goal-scoring does run dry throughout the course of the season. Charleston will need to figure out how to keep the ball out of the back of their own net to stay atop of the Eastern Conference.

The Harrisburg City Islanders have their own defensive woes heading into the game. They put two on the board against Pittsburgh but allowed five in their opening game. Head coach Bill Becher will hope that his team can get his team into the right form to hold the Battery off the board, a task that two teams have not been able to do so far this season. Becher also threw down a challenge to his side in an effort to motivate his players. He not only wants the team to return to the USL Championship game, but win it this time. Whether that challenge will produce results remains to be seen.

Richmond Looks to Give Louisville a Rough Welcome

The Kickers will be in party mode as they host Louisville City in their first team home opener on Saturday. Pre-game festivities include live music and hopefully will end with a win if Richmond has their way. The Kickers showed heart in their first game, clawing back from a two goal deficit to get a point from the NYCFC affiliate team the Wilmington Hammerheads. That trip will definitely be on their minds as they hope to keep a Louisville side in check that has yet to allow a goal this season.

Louisville City will also be riding high off of a rivalry win over the newly minted St. Louis FC. The young side will hope to spoil the party as midfielder Charlie Adams looks to continue his surge as one of the potential stand outs in the 2015 season. Louisville had a fantastic start in their home opener but road trips can sometimes be a very different story. Richmond is trying their hardest to make the setting extremely uncomfortable for them and potentially hand the new side their first loss.

Will Sacramento and Portland Be a New Soccer Rivalry?

The reigning champs repeated their efforts from last year’s playoffs by defeating LA Galaxy II on the road. This will be the last road game for Sacramento as they hope to take six out of a total nine points from this trip. To do so, they’ll have to beat a Portland Timbers 2 team that scored three goals in their first home game. Sacramento will hope to put together a better performance after having to be bailed out by a Rodrigo Lopez stoppage time goal in LA. Still, it is difficult to criticize results. A win for Sacramento would mean that their road trip was a huge success and set them up with momentum into a lengthy homestand.

Portland Timbers 2 will hope to continue their progress after a big 3-1 victory over Real Monarchs. Several Portland players are also extremely familiar with the Sacramento Republic as defender Harrison Delbridge made sixteen starts for them last season and midfielder Steven Evans who was on loan from the Portland Timbers mothership. The proximity of these two teams and the prospect of Sacramento becoming an MLS team in the near future means that this could be a preview of an intense rivalry. Sacramento would almost immediately be involved in the Cascadia Cup should they go up to MLS. In the meantime, they hope to hinder Portland’s USL side on their way to dominance over the league for a second straight year.