USL Week 9 Preview: NYRBII Columbia Bound …

IMAGE, MATT KREMKAU FOR EMPIRE OF SOCCER

by ANTHONY J. MERCED
USL Beat Writer

The USL has a jam-packed schedule with little wiggle room for certain teams who are looking to either solidify their position or hit the reset button before results fall too far by the wayside.

New York, Wilmington, Tulsa and Vancouver will all be seeking victories after a sputtering start to the season. Another loss and the hunt for one of the six playoff spots becomes an uphill climb as each team now knows what to expect from the conference competitions.

Conversely, Rochester, Sacramento, Austin and Seattle all have a chance to grab or solidify the top of the standings this weekend. Rochester’s road record will certainly see them as favorites whereas Sacramento’s road form has been less than desirable with three of their four losses coming away from home.

New York Hopes for a Fresh Start in Manhattan

New York Red Bull II will hope that the new setting at Rocco B. Commisso Soccer Stadium at Columbia University will generate better results.

NYRBII started the season with six of their first eight games at home, but could only muster two wins during that stretch at Red Bull Arena. Their first visitors at their new home will be a Charleston Battery team that has been extremely impressive this season. Sitting in second, the Battery hope to cut the four point gap between themselves and Rochester.

New York will have to face tough roster shake-ups as Leo Stolz will be suspended following his red card against Harrisburg City last weekend. Missing such an important defensive player will give Charleston goalscorers like Kelly Dane a chance to increase his total. The Battery will certainly be seen as a favorite heading into this game but New York has surprised in the past with gritty performances.

Wilmington Hopes to Be This Week’s Upset Story

It seems that each week we’ve seen an undefeated side falter with Richmond being last week’s victims. Wilmington will hope to stop their own skid with an unlikely victory over a dominant Rochester team. Leading the league as the stingiest team with only three goals allowed, the Rhinos have been seemingly impenetrable. Through eight games the team has only surrendered three goals. However all three have come on the road, giving the Hammerheads a small glimmer of hope.

For Wilmington it has been a tough start with only one win coming from a game where several NYCFC loanees were featured in starting spots. Defensively they are among the worst in the league having surrendered a second worst thirteen goals through seven games. The Hammerheads will hope to keep a better shape and stifle the Rhinos’ offense but that is easier said than done.

LA Galaxy II Can Go Top of the Table with a Good Week

The LA Galaxy II have two very important games in week 9. The team is currently sitting in fifth place with ten points but only five off of first place. With one of those games against first place Sacramento Republic and both fixtures being at home, LA holds their destiny in their own hands. It will not be an easy task as Tulsa and Sacramento are both playing well and would love nothing more than to knock the 2014 semi-finalists out of the top six by the end of the weekend.

So far LA has not had very good results against the reigning champions. Through two games, Sacramento defeated LA both home and away while also scoring three goals in each meeting. Since their last game with Sacramento nearly a month ago, LA has only conceded one goal a game. This week will be the truest test of the team’s new defensive shape against the league’s highest scoring offense.

Week 9 Schedule:

Wilmington Hammerheads vs. Louisville City FC 5/12 at 7:30PM
Colorado Springs Switchbacks vs. Orange County Blues FC 5/13 at 10:30PM
Tulsa Roughnecks vs. LA Galaxy II 5/13 at 10:30PM
Charleston Battery vs. FC Montreal 5/14 at 4PM
Toronto FC II vs. St. Louis FC 5/14 at 8PM
Oklahoma City Energy vs. Seattle Sounders FC 2 5/15 at 10:30PM
Richmond Kickers vs. Pittsburgh Riverhounds 5/16 at 7PM
Rochester Rhinos vs. Wilmington Hammerheads 5/16 at 7PM
Charlotte Independence vs. Harrisburg City Islanders 5/16 at 7PM
Toronto FC II vs. Louisville City FC 5/16 at 7:30PM
Portland Timbers 2 vs. Real Monarchs SLC 5/16 at 9PM
Tulsa Roughnecks vs. Orange County Blues 5/16 at 10PM
Austin Aztex vs. Arizona United SC 5/16 at 10:30PM
Oklahoma City Energy vs. Vancouver Whitecaps FC 2 5/17 at 5PM
Charleston Battery vs. New York Red Bull II 5/17 at 7PM
Sacramento Republic FC vs. LA Galaxy II 5/17 at 7:15PM