Orlando City SC’s position in the standings could be under threat this weekend.
Orlando City has sat on the top of the table for most of the season, but the recently hot Richmond Kickers are looking to take over the mantle. The two clubs meet in a must-watch battle on Saturday evening, with home field advantage in the playoffs on the line.
Meanwhile, the USL Pro playoff race is heating up as two teams needing crucial points play twice this weekend. The OKC Energy FC, who currently lie in ninth place, start the weekend playing the team sitting two positions below them, Arizona United FC, and they will play sixth place Charleston Battery on Sunday.
The Wilmington Hammerheads FC have several games in hand and will look to catch up as they play the Orange County Blues and the LA Galaxy II on Saturday and Sunday, respectively. An LA Galaxy II win would almost assure their qualification for the playoffs.
Here is a look at the upcoming games this weekend:
OKC Energy FC vs. Arizona United SC (Friday, 10:30 p.m.)
This pivotal game will help determine who will be eighth in the standings. OKC Energy FC’s 1-0 home loss to LA Galaxy II last weekend makes this a must-win game, if the Energy FC want to keep up with the rest of the field.
Arizona United SC want to continue their good form and win their last regular season game at the Peoria Sports Complex. Neither side has been able to defeat the other at home this year. The series stands at 1-1-1, with both sides winning on the road and both drawing once.
Orlando City SC vs. Richmond Kickers (Saturday, 7 p.m.)
This will be the first of two meetings between these top two teams. The Kickers only have one loss this year, which occurred on April 12 against the Charlotte Eagles. The Kickers hope to continue their unbeaten streak and prevent USL Pro’s leading scorer, Kevin Molino, from netting his 16th goal of the season, which would see him break Dom Dywer’s and Jose Angulo’s single-season goal scoring record.
Both teams have qualified for the playoffs, but reigning champion Orlando City hope to finish the year in good form. With their 2-0 defeat against the Charlotte Eagles on Wednesday night, Orlando City have lost their last three away matches.
Colorado Rapids Reserves vs. Dayton Dutch Lions (Saturday, 7 p.m.)
Sitting in last place, the Dayton Dutch Lions are still not mathematically eliminated from the playoffs, so they will look to continue their unbeaten streak, which is now at three games, and fight for a spot.
The Dutch Lions only have three games remaining, and their resilient 1-1 draw against the second place Richmond Kickers on Saturday may give them hopes of finishing the year in good form. The Colorado Rapids Reserves lost their only match against USL Pro competition this year, a 4-3 defeat against Sacramento Republic FC.
Harrisburg City Islanders vs. Rochester Rhinos (Saturday, 7 p.m.)
Both squads are currently in playoff positions, but a loss for either would leave the teams in a tough situation. Harrisburg City Islanders’ four game win streak was snapped by Orlando City on Saturday, and the Islanders will play three of their remaining four games on the road.
The Rochester Rhinos are winless in their last four games, with three defeats coming in that stretch. Their final three games are crucial, and because these two sides face one another two times within a week, this game and next Saturday’s game will determine who stays in the playoff picture and who is eliminated.
Wilmington Hammerheads FC vs. Orange County Blues (Saturday, 10 p.m.)
In the first match of their two-game weekend, the Wilmington Hammerheads will face the Orange County Blues, who were humiliated, 6-1, by Sacramento Republic last Sunday.
Meanwhile, the Hammerheads are winless in five games, and their 2-0 defeat to Sacramento on Wednesday makes this weekend crucial for the Hammerheads.
Wilmington Hammerheads FC vs. LA Galaxy II (Sunday, 3 p.m.)
If the Hammerheads lose to the Blues on Saturday night, LA Galaxy II can almost assure themselves a playoff berth this weekend with a win against the Hammerheads.
The fourth-place Galaxy II side will want to continue their two-game winning streak, as these two sides meet for the only time this regular season.
FC Dallas Reserves vs. Pittsburgh Riverhounds (Sunday, 3 p.m.)
The Pittsburgh Riverhounds are on the outside of the playoff picture looking in, but a win against the FC Dallas Reserves will help them climb the cluttered table.
The Riverhounds suffered a disappointing 3-1 loss against Arizona United SC on Saturday, but the FC Dallas Reserves have lost their last two fixtures against USL Pro competition by a combined score of 6-2.
Charleston Battery vs. OKC Energy FC (Sunday, 8 p.m.)
After playing their Friday night match in the Arizona heat, OKC Energy FC will head home to play a hot opponent. Unbeaten in seven games, the Charleston Battery will believe that they can take down OKC on the road.
This will be the only meeting this season between these two teams. The last game of the weekend will surely shake up the USL Pro playoff picture.
How will the playoff picture look after this weekend? Will Molino break the league’s scoring record?
Share your thoughts below.