Week 6 Preview: what you need to know
Easter eggs aren't spherical
Well, as with all streaks, this one came to an end. Right now, only the Charleston Battery, the Colorado Springs Switchbacks and Oakland Roots are on win streaks, all of them on 2 games. Even San Antonio and Sacramento Republic saw their streaks end, as they drew 0-0 this past weekend. So it’s back to square one, although the Legion remains in first place thanks to results elsewhere.
The most important part
The upcoming Legion schedule looks pretty favorable, in fact. This week’s game is at Loudoun United (Saturday, 5:00pm), followed by a cross-country hike to Orange County, then the home leg of the Hartford Athletic series (the first the Three Sparks will complete this year) and then off again to The™ Miami FC before things get a bit tougher with Oakland coming to town. That’s just as well, since with the US Open Cup game against Chattanooga FC on April 25th, the Legion has 6 games between April 15th and May 6th. With harder opposition, that could be a very challenging stretch.
Still, you take it a game at a time. First up is the newly independent Loudoun, who started the season looking good, winning 3-1 in Memphis. That turned out to be rather chimeric, as Memphis have staggeringly underwhelmed in 3 games so far this season. In the 3 games since that start, Loudoun have earned just 1 point (although it was against San Antonio) and have lost the past 2 games and were shut out in both. They did get a bye last week, so have had a chance to regroup.
That being said, they don’t look to be a likely contender as the season progresses. They suffer from a distinct lack of star power. It also doesn’t help that after the DC United divorce, they had to completely rebuild the squad. Of the 18 players who were in the 218 for the final game of 2022, only 2 are still with the club – Landry Houssou and Abdoul Zanne, both midfielders. They do still have a few DC players on the team – two first team players and 4 academy players. The one area of consistency is the head coach – Ryan Martin, who has been there since 2019.
Perhaps the best known player on their squad is goalkeeper Hugo Fauroux (with the Battery last year), but he has split time with Dane Jacomen, and wasn’t even in the 18 for the last league game. Their best striker is Zach Ryan, whom they picked up from the New York Red Bulls II this year. He scored 3 of their 4 goals to date and earned a nomination for March USL Player of the Month before missing the past two games. Fauroux and Ryan both started in the Open Cup win over North Carolina FC, though, and are presumably OK to play.
Loudoun have used a 4-4-2 in every game this season, mostly with a flat 2 up front but sometimes also with a false 9. That’s pretty old school. The back line looks suspect and at times disorganized and is probably going to need quite some time to gel. That’s a weakness the Legion needs to exploit ruthlessly.
Prediction: Loudoun are a bit of a mystery, being to all intents and purposes an expansion team. I don’t see them penetrating the Legion defense with any ease and could prove very leaky at the back themselves. They will be at home, of course, but I don’t know if that will prove to be much of an advantage. For what it’s worth, the Legion won both games last season, 2-1 and 6-1. I doubt a massive pounding is on the cards, but I’m still going for a 2-0 Legion win even if MVO and Tyler Pasher are unavailable.
Best of the rest
A full slate of games this week, and only El Paso Locomotive have a bye, which is fair since they have already played 6 games. And that slate starts tonight with a fairly important matchup: the Tampa Bay Rowdies are hosting the Battery (6:30pm). With a win Charleston could take the Eastern Conference lead and also have a game in hand. Tampa still needs to improve, although they did beat Miami 2-0 last weekend.
The Battery get a very short turnaround. They play FC Tulsa at home on Saturday at 5:00pm, the earliest game this weekend. That will burn up that game in hand. Tulsa are sniffing at their heels, too, so this could be a good one. Keep an eye on it as you watch the Legion. Also pay attention to Pittsburgh Riverhounds v. Rio Grande Valley (6:00pm); the Hounds aren’t too far off the conference pace either.
A really interesting game at 6:30pm, so it won’t overlap the Legion too much: Louisville City plays San Antonio. Lou City’s 1-0 win over Detroit City last week was hardly a convincing return to form after two shock defeats and their goalless streak ran to 302 minutes before Wilson Harris finally ended it. San Antonio didn’t score themselves last week and will be looking to reassert dominance.
Of the later games, New Mexico United v. San Diego Loyal (8:00pm) is likely to be the most entertaining, although the Legion’s next two opponents, Orange County and Hartford play in California at 9:00pm so that would have some value. Also good will be the nightcap at 10:00pm with Sacramento Republic playing Colorado Springs, 2 very strong Western teams.
There are no games on Sunday, so enjoy your day!
Back in the Old Country
Making up for the sudden drop in draws in the USL Championship lasty week, the Blues drew 101 at Reading on Friday an 0-0 against Stoke on Monday. With that they dropped a place to 17th in the table. This Saturday they head to Sunderland (9:00am, no ESPN+), who are 10th. Birmingham City has 5 games left in its season and is probably safe from relegation, but currently needs 7 points out of 15 to ensure they stay up.
However, the biggest news for the Blues dropped today, as it was announced that the team has a letter of intent from a potential buyer to take over majority ownership of the club and stadium. This is good news to Blues fans, who have been clamoring for its current Chinese owners to sell for years. The name of the buyer has not been disclosed.