Week 11 Preview: what you need to know
The Central Division remains tight, and has some good matchups this week
It’s a busy week in the USL Championship, with a total of 20 games being played between tonight and Independence Day. All 31 teams in the league have at least one game this week, and nine have a double-game week. Two of those are your own Birmingham Legion and their Wednesday night opponent Atlanta United 2. They face off at the Bank at 7:00pm tomorrow (ESPN+, my68), and both have games Saturday. The Three Sparks head to Indianapolis (6:00pm, ESPN+, my68) seeking revenge for the opening week loss and Twonited head home to a Fifth Third Bank Stadium (6:30pm) that has degenerated about as quickly as the team’s performance to play Memphis 901 on a field that is now a far worse sandpit than BBVA Field was earlier this season.
Atlanta United 2 has just 1 point from its last three games after a strong run that ended with a victory over Louisville City. Their parent MLS club hasn’t been doing much better either, and fans in Atlanta have been short of reasons to celebrate recently. They are primed for a tough game against a Birmingham side that has 12 points from its last 5 games, best in the Championship over that stretch.
The Legion’s second opponent this week has seen a sudden return to form of sorts. After losing three straight they beat Sporting Kansas City II 2-1 and then found themselves in a shootout in Louisville that ended 3-3. They have clawed their way back into playoff position and may present something of a problem for the Three Sparks.
Elsewhere, the week’s festivities kick off tonight over on the West Coast, where San Diego Loyal host league rookies Oakland Roots (9:30pm). After a disastrous start Landycakes’ men have finally figured how to win (even over Phoenix Rising), and are now 3rd in the Pacific by virtue of goal difference. The visiting newbies have had a predictably difficult start, and have just 5 points from 5 games. But they do have cool uniforms and logo.
The second-best game Wednesday is a matchup of the top two teams in the Mountain Division – Rio Grande Valley and and El Paso. That game kicks off early at 7:00pm Central, so you will be otherwise occupied.
The remaining four teams in the Central all play Friday evening, so you can watch them without fear of interrupting your enjoyment of the Legion. SKC II host Lou City at 7:00pm and the next instalment of the Black Gold Derby is at 7:30pm. This one may be rather more interesting than it might have been just a week ago. OKC Energy is on a three-game winning streak, having won its first game in nearly a year over Memphis and immediately following it with wins over SKC II and ATLUTD 2. That streak is the team’s longest since March 2018.. Tulsa’s three-game disaster is now long over, and they are coming off a 2-1 win over RGV.
The best game from the rest of the week’s slate is probably Phoenix Rising v. LA Galaxy II (9:30pm Saturday). The two games on July 4th don’t look too interesting, so there’s little to distract you from the holiday celebrations. Enjoy!