Week 8 Preview: what you need to know
Back to normal, whatever that is
So now we get into the part of the season where the USFL really starts to get in the way. But with the Stallions at 2-0 we shouldn’t really complain too much I guess. And they are fun games to attend. But I will be out of town this weekend so what do I care? Anyway, the Legion now gets two Wednesday night games in a row with no weekend game in between.
The most important part
The Legion and the Charleston Battery have met 3 times in the past, and not since 2020. The record is even at 1-1-1. Not that this means very much two years on. Both teams have changed quite a bit since then.
The Battery in particular have had a rough time of it, failing to qualify for the playoffs in 2021 for the first time since 2007. Right now they sit in 12th place in the East on just 4 points with a record of 1-4-1. The only win was in week 1 when they beat Tulsa 1-0 at home. They also were knocked out of the Open Cup in the second round. By Tormenta. The one draw was a 1-1 game with Louisville City last weekend.
The game against Lou City was not quite as even as the score suggests. Lou City held a big possession edge and outshot the Battery comfortably. The Charleston goal came on a horrendous Louisville defensive error, and City were denied the win buy the woodwork.
Charleston, then has had a fairly turbulent season. Part of the reason for this is that they parted ways with their long-time head coach Mike Anhaeuser. Anhaeuser played 5 years for the Battery before becoming an assistant coach in 1999, and then head coach since 2004. He is also a member of the USL Hall of Fame. Replacing him is the equally notable Conor Casey, although Casey’s coaching experience is far less extensive, 2 years as an assistant and 1 as interim head coach at his former team the Colorado Rapids. He hadn’t coached in 2 years before taking the Battery job. So there is bound to be a significant amount of adjusting to be done, and that is reflected in the Battery’s record to date.
The Battery has the same scoring problems as the Legion, having netted just 5 times in 6 games. However, unlike the Legion they are not creating chances. Their team xG is a mere 6.64 as compared with the Three Sparks’ 12.34. They are averaging 11.8 shots per game; the Legion’s rate is 14.9. And despite taking almost a third fewer shots, the Battery’s conversion rate is barely better, 9% v. 8% and just one spot higher in the rankings on that stat. Only three Charleston players have scored: Augustine Williams and Mauro Cichero have 2 apiece and Aidan Apodaca has 1. Williams has some limited MS experience but spent last season on loan with the San Diego Loyal. Cichero has been with the Battery his entire pro career and Apodaca has kicked around the USL since 2018.
At the opposite end of the field, they have allowed 12 goals, tied for 7th in the league. The draw with Lou City indicates that perhaps trhe ship may been righted to a degree, but the side is clearly weak.
That being said, the Legion has been having its own roster issues of late. However, Juan Agudelo should be available tonight after recovering from his PRP injection in his knee. And, in news most Legion fans will be interested to hear, so will Edi Horvat. Edi’s absence from the lineup was not due to injury or any other personal issue, but rather that the team did not have enough international roster spots to accommodate him.
The team had expected green cards to be issued to Anderson Asiedu and Bruno Lapa (you need at least 2 years of skilled work experience to get one) but they had been delayed in processing and so the international slots those would have freed up are not yet available. Each team gets 7 spots, but they are tradeable or saleable. The Legion had been working to get a spot lined up for Edi and it appears that they got one by trading Macky Diop to Detroit City today. What they got in return for him has not been disclosed, but it is possible that not only did they free up Macky’s own spot, but also got one in trade, which could allow for an additional international player to be added. In any event, I have been informed that Edi will be available tonight.
On the other hand, Alex Crognale will be serving his second suspension of the season tonight, after the review panel deemed his stomp in Sunday’s game at Loudoun to have been red card worthy. SO the back line has more issues to deal with. Expect the same 4-2-3-1 formation from Sunday, albeit with different personnel.
Prediction: Roster issues or not, I don’t see the Legion losing this one. The Battery has been in some turmoil and the Three Sparks should be confident after the win Sunday as well as getting some attacking firepower back.
Best of the rest
Kicking off at the same time tonight will be Memphis 901 v. the Tampa Bay Rowdies. With Memphis getting some serious results and not having played since beating the Switchbacks on April 16, this should be a good one to watch on replay.
Both those teams play again on Saturday , also in good matchups. 901 get The™ Miami FC at 7:00pm and the Rowdies host San Diego (6:30pm). But the best game of the day, though, certainly as far as the Eastern Conference is concerned will be Lou City v. the Pittsburgh Riverhounds (6:30pm), the top two in the East. If you are interested in a good game out West, then I recommend Sacramento Republic v. Las Vegas Lights( 9:00pm). The Lights have been a pleasant surprise this season and SacRep are no slouches either.
There is just one game on Sunday: LA Galaxy II v. Phoenix Rising (7:00pm). You can probably pass on that one.
The Old Country
The EFL Championship season is coming to an end. Birmingham City have two games left. This Saturday they travel to Wales (yes, even in England they let foreign teams play in their league) to play Cardiff City (9:00am, no US TV). With little left to play for, the Blues could get some satisfaction out of this one: Cardiff are one place ahead in 19th with a 3-point advantage. A 4-goal win would flip the two teams in the standings.