USL Week 15 Preview: Playoff Rematches for New York and LA

IMAGE, MATT KREMKAU FOR EMPIRE OF SOCCER

by ANTHONY J. MERCED

Week 15 marks the halfway point in the USL season and the storylines have taken shape in both conferences. Out West, the chaos continues as competition heats up for the six playoff spots and those under the red line continue to play spoiler to heavy favorites. In the East, the titans have pulled away from the pack with Louisville, New York and Cincinnati appearing like the heavy favorites atop the table.

This week will also feature some interesting playoff rematches as New York will host Rochester for the second time this season and Orange County battles LA in a rematch from the Western Conference semi-final.

LA Galaxy II are Back on Track

After tough losses early in May, LA seemed to be falling back to reality. However, they pulled through with some tight draws against Sacramento and Colorado Springs before taking their last game against the Tulsa Roughnecks. Now they welcome Orange County Blues to Stubhub Track and Field Stadium in a playoff rematch. Currently LA trails Vancouver in the standings by three points but a loss would see Orange County become a player in the top five.

For Orange County it has been a seesaw kind of year. The results have not been consistent with the team trading losses and wins over the last five weeks. The game against LA will be the end of a three game road trip and one that the Blues will hope to take in order to see their Western Conference title defense doesn’t slip through their grasp. To do so, OC will need to shut down league leading scorer Jack McBean. The youngster’s level of play has been so high he was recently signed to the Galaxy senior team and the motivation to play his way into MLS will continue to make him a dangerous opponent.

New York Looks to Unravel the Mystery of Rochester

New York has now played Rochester five times over the last two years and have not been able to get a victory. This season, the two met back in April and played to a scoreless draw. Bob Lily’s side has always been defensively stout but this season in particular they lack the goal scoring punch to be effective. New York on the other hand has been effective on both sides of the ball, allowing the fewest goals in USL and successfully scoring four goals against Wilmington this past week.

For Rochester, a win appears to be essential. They have lost two out of their last three games and need to take points from teams like New York if they hope to climb back on top of the Eastern Conference. Red Bull II on the other hand will be looking to keep pace with Louisville City who have not lost a game in 14 straight since being beaten by New York back in week two. A win against Rochester could be a galvanizing result as John Wolyniec’s side is quickly become a USL Cup favorite given their stifling defense.

WEEK 15 SCHEDULE:

Real Monarchs SLC vs. Colorado Springs Switchbacks on 6/29 at 7PM
Arizona United SC vs. Tulsa Roughnecks on 7/1 at 7:30PM
Rochester Rhinos vs. New York Red Bull II on 7/2 at 4PM
Bethlehem Steel FC vs. FC Cincinnati on 7/2 at 6PM
Toronto FC II vs. Wilmington Hammerheads on 7/2 at 7PM
Vancouver Whitecaps FC 2 vs. Real Monarchs SLC on 7/2 at 7PM
Richmond Kickers vs. Charleston Battery on 7:30PM
Charlotte Independence vs. Orlando City B on 7/2 at 7:30PM
St. Louis FC vs. Swope Park Rangers on 7/2 at 7:30PM
Rio Grande Valley FC vs. OKC Energy FC on 7/2 at 7:30PM
Orange County Blues FC vs. LA Galaxy II on 7/2 at 7:30PM
Seattle Sounder FC 2 vs. Sacramento Republic FC on 7/2 at 8PM
San Antonio FC vs. Tulsa Roughnecks on 7/3 at 7:30PM