USL Week 8 Preview: Richmond and Rochester Look for Break Out

IMAGE, MATT KREMKAU FOR EMPIRE OF SOCCER

by ANTHONY J. MERCED

USL Week 8 is yet another fixture that spans seven days with games filling just about every possible slot.

In weeks like this, it is high stakes for teams such as Richmond who have multiple games. The rewards are high as two wins are an instant boost up the table.

But falter, and you can see your team in need for recovery.

This week is also about teams that have flown under the radar in 2016. Is hard to believe but the 2015 USL Champion Rochester Rhinos have been relatively quiet despite a strong start. Teams like Charlotte, New York and Colorado Springs have stolen the headlines but slow and steady has always been the formula for success in the USL and Rochester has seemingly perfected that strategy.

RICHMOND WITH A BIG CHANCE TO ESTABLISH PRESENCE

The Richmond Kickers have a chance to make a strong impression with two tough games in Week 8. Games against Toronto FC II on Wednesday and then New York Red Bull II, both on the road, offer the Kickers a chance to jump an entire six points. Such a grab for points can see them catapult up the table and make themselves a team to watch as opposed to one that has been mostly overlooked for far in 2016.

From a results standpoint, the Kickers have been a streaky team this season. After starting the season with three wins, the team dropped two straight before once again winning the next two. Richmond has also only been shutout once in a road game to Wilmington. Team leading scorer Yudai Imura has provided the offensive spark from the midfield with three goals this season.

The toughest game in their week will be Saturday’s game against New York Red Bull II. Last season, Richmond had mixed results against New York but was organized and gave the defense fits.

ROCHESTER HAS BEEN QUIET BUT EFFECTIVE

We haven’t heard much from the 2015 USL Champions but they have been quietly grabbing results. Despite a loss to Richmond in Week 2, every game since then has been a positive result. A draw against New York followed by three straight victories have Rochester poised to be the team to beat in the Eastern Conference once again.

This week, Rochester continues their homestand against the Charlotte Independence, a team that has been turning heads, sitting just two points underneath conference leaders Louisville City FC. Watching Rochester’s defense take on Charlotte’s offense will certainly be the big draw to this game. However, the Rhinos have also found a bit more offense than they had in their championship year. Only one of their of their four wins in 2016 was a 1-0 result with all other being multiple goal games.

The Rhinos have also been enjoying a three game homestand which ends after this game against Charlotte. With new renovations for fans and the team on the pitch, the Rhinos are feeling the far more stable and producing the results on the field in 2016.

USL WEEK 8 FIXTURES:

Charleston Battery vs. Harrisburg City Islanders on 5/9 at 7PM
Charlotte Independence vs. Wilmington Hammerheads on 5/10 at 7PM
Richmond Kickers vs. Toronto FC II on 5/11 at 11:30AM
Real Monarchs SLC vs. Rio Grande Valley FC on 5/13 at 8:30PM
Portland Timbers 2 vs. Colorado Springs Switchbacks on 5/13 at 9PM
Richmond Kickers vs. New York Red Bull II on 5/14 at 4PM
Pittsburgh Riverhounds vs. FC Cincinnati on 5/14 at 4PM
Charlotte Independence vs. Rochester Rhinos on 5/14 at 6:05PM
Toronto FC II vs. Charleston Battery on 5/14 at 7:30PM
St. Louis FC vs. Louisville City FC on 5/14 at 7:30PM
Tulsa Roughnecks vs. Swope Park Rangers on 5/14 at 8:30PM
Arizona United SC vs. Orange County Blues FC on 5/14 at 10PM
Seattle Sounders FC 2 vs. Sacramento Republic FC on 5/14 at 10:30PM
FC Montreal vs. Bethlehem Steel FC on 5/15 at 4PM
LA Galaxy II vs. Vancouver Whitecaps FC 2 on 5/15 at 5PM
San Antonio FC vs. OKC Energy FC on 5/15 at 7PM