USL Week 2 Preview: Teams Are All In

by ANTHONY J. MERCED
Staff Writer

With only three games and six teams playing in week one, the start of the USL 2015 season felt like a dry run. All of that goes out the window in week two as all twenty four teams will play competitive games in what can only be called the launch of rivalry weekend for the new USL.

Games will span from today to Sunday with the bulk of games happening tomorrow throughout the afternoon. Several key matches stand out as many of the new teams make their debuts and young players enter a completely new world of competitive games.

Here are a few matches to keep an eye out for over the weekend:

Louisville City and St. Louis FC Battle for the Kings Cup

From the day both teams were announced in the USL, fans have circled this game on the calendar. A natural rivalry will see it’s first chapter written as both teams look to establish dominance over the other. Louisville City will host St. Louis at Louisville Slugger Field, a minor league baseball stadium converted for soccer. The situation is not too dissimilar to what the Cosmos will be doing with the Brooklyn Cyclones later on this summer. As an added bonus, a competition between the two bearing similarities to smaller competitions like the Cascadia Cup has emerged. The two sides will be competing for the first ever “King’s Cup;” a trophy that will only add to this growing rivalry.

There will be some familiar names on the field for both sides. Former New York Red Bull and San Jose Earthquake defender Brandon Barklage will make his USL debut for St. Louis, instantly giving them a solid defensive presence. On the opposite side is Louisville’s standout midfielder Charlie Adams who has made appearances in the English Football League for Stevenage FC and Brentford FC. Both sides are filled with youth and hunger to make this an attractive fixture for years to come. Both supporters groups will also be in full force as they look for a sellout in their first clash.

The Oklahoma Derby Kicks Off in USL

A familiar name will be in the Managers box for Oklahoma City as former MLS Cup goalkeeper Jimmy Nielson has a second crack at potentially taking the Energy to the playoffs in 2015. Last season, his first as a head coach, saw OKC finish in tenth, five point below the final playoff spot. It was quite an adjustment period for both the new team and new head coach but things should be far more settled.

However there is a wrench thrown into the machine. That wrench is the Tulsa Roughnecks. Named after the NASL team of the 70’s, Tulsa is looking to lay claim to Oklahoma and establish themselves as the marquee team in the state. Their first game will be a classic style derby at ONEOK Field, the home of the minor league baseball side Tulsa Drillers. Player of note for the new side is veteran MLS forward Sammy Ochoa who had a stint with the Seattle Sounders from 2011-2013. He’s also had significant playing time in the USL with the Wilmington Hammerheads in 2014.

LA Galaxy 2 Look For Revenge Against the Reigning Champs

Sacramento Republic FC will travel to LA with the chance to put last week behind them. The champions lost to the newly minted Seattle Sounders 2 club 4-2 and now face a very tough LA Galaxy 2 squad who hopes to get their offense going after a 0-0 draw at home. This is a rematch of last year’s 2014 USL Championship semi-final which saw Sacramento keep LA from a potential sweep of both the MLS and USL Championships.

Emotions will certainly be running high as neither team wants to go winless in their first two weeks. The Galaxy will certainly have a bit more of the pressure as the longer home stands in the USL schedule adds to the importance of home wins before long road trips. A win for Sacramento will put them back on track and add another blow the LA Galaxy 2 who appeared to be headed towards dominance in the league just one year prior.

Other Games This Weekend:

Charleston Battery vs. Charlotte Independence (tonight at 7:30 PM)
Toronto FC II vs. FC Montreal (3/28 at 12:30 PM)
Rochester Rhinos vs. New York Red Bull II (3/28 at 2:00 PM)
Harrisburg City Islanders vs. Pittsburgh Riverhounds (3/28 at 7:00 PM)
Richmond Kickers vs. Wilmington Hammerheads (3/28 at 7:00 PM)
Colorado Springs Switchbacks vs. Austin Aztex (3/28 at 9:00 PM)
Arizona United SC vs. Orange County Blues FC (3/28 at 10:00 PM)
Vancouver Whitecaps FC 2 vs. Seattle Sounds FC 2 (3/29 at 7:00 PM)
Real Monarchs SLC vs. Portland Timbers 2 (3/29 at 9:00 PM)

All games are available via Youtube.


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