First Place On The line As Richmond Hosts Charleston
The longtime rivalry between the Charleston Battery and host Richmond Kickers will mark a pivotal point in Eastern Conference play as both teams are fighting for the driver’s seat entering Week 7 of the USL season.
The Richmond Kickers (4-0-2), in the midst of a four-game winning streak, is tied in points with the Rochester Rhinos atop the East. But right behind them is the Charleston Battery at 4-0-1, with a perfect 2-0-0 road record thus far this season.
Meanwhile in the Western Conference, with first-place Sacramento Republic (4-4-0, 12 points) idle, the standings could look quite different on Monday with five teams within three points of the defending USL champions. Orange County Blues FC (3-1-0, 9 points) will have a daunting task on the road, first against Seattle Sounders FC 2 (3-2-1, 10 points) tonight and then the Portland Timbers 2 (3-2-1, 10 points) on Sunday.
GAMES TO WATCH
Seattle Sounders FC 2 vs. Orange County Blues FC
Friday, 10:30 p.m. ET, Starfire Sports Stadium
S2 is heading home after a 0-2-1 road trip, so Starfire Sports Stadium will be a welcome venue. Seattle is a robust 3-0-0 at Starfire, outscoring its opponents 10-3. Despite showcasing one of the best home records in the league, Seattle will have its work cut out taking on an Orange County side that has won three straight, including an impressive 2-1 victory against defending champion Sacramento Republic FC. That April 24 game marked only the second loss ever for Republic FC at Bonney Field.
The Blues have had a balanced attack with six different goal scorers, with Didier Crettenand standing out. He is tied for the team lead with two goals alongside Christopher Ramirez, and Crettenand leads Orange County with three assists.
Richmond Kickers vs. Charleston Battery
Saturday, 7 p.m. ET, City Stadium
The last time these two teams met were in last season’s playoff quarterfinals, with Matthew Delicate leading Richmond to a 2-1 victory as he scored a late game-winner in the 117th minute. This regular-season matchup will set the tone for the top of the Eastern Conference, as both the Kickers (4-0-2) and Battery (4-0-1) are unbeaten. The Kickers and Battery have faced each other 52 previous times, with Richmond holding the slight series edge at 24-22-6.
New York Red Bulls II vs. Pittsburgh Riverhounds
Sunday, 2 p.m. ET, Red Bull Arena
Pittsburgh has made some noise in recent weeks, and it will be interesting to see if the Riverhounds can make up some ground this weekend when they travel to face NYRBII. The 2-1-2 Riverhounds are coming off their second five-goal effort of the season, a 5-1 victory against Toronto FC II. Highlighting the attack is the duo of Kevin Kerr and Rob Vincent. Both players have scored four goals this season. NYRBII is looking to end a four-game winless streak (0-3-1), with its last victory coming on April 4 against Toronto FC II, a 4-1 decision.
NEWS AND NOTES
– The Charlotte Independence, who host Louisville City FC on Saturday at Transamerica Field, have strengthened their lineup with the signing of defender Mechack Jerome. Jerome formerly won the USL title with Orlando City SC in 2011 and would later play in 10 matches for Major League Soccer’s Sporting Kansas City in 2013 en route to an MLS Cup.
– Sacramento Republic FC capped its season tickets for the 2015 USL season. Republic FC leads the USL with 9,500 season tickets, and a limited number of group and single-match tickets remain at Bonney Field, which holds 11,242.
– The officiating crew for FC Montreal’s game against the Rochester Rhinos features a trio which is set to be part of the 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup this summer. Head referee Carol Anne Chenard will be joined by assistant referees Marie-Josee Charbonneau and Suzanne Morisset on Saturday as they bring their extensive international experience to the USL.
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