Last Friday, the USL Championship home openers were announced. On Saturday, we broke down the Eastern Conference slate with some quick thoughts. Today, we take a trip to the wild, wild, West.
⚽Reno 1868 FC vs. Orange County SC is the one that sticks out at first glance. They played an extremely competitive Western Conference semifinal and both clubs should be contenders in the West this season.
⚽You may need sunglasses for the Las Vegas Lights FC home opener. They will host Austin Bold FC and both sides have neon, colorful logos and will surely have neon, colorful kits in the 2019 season.
⚽Could the surprise team of 2018 be taking on the surprise team of 2019 on March 9th? Portland Timbers 2 went from the bottom of the 2017 USL Western Conference to the playoffs in 2018. Tulsa Roughnecks FC finished dead last in 2018. Maybe they start a shocking playoff-bound season by defeating Timbers 2 at ONEOK Field in their opener.
⚽After finishing second in the conference in 2017, San Antonio FC missed the playoffs in 2018. They will look to get back to being a top side in the Western Conference when they host the reigning Western Conference champions, Phoenix Rising FC.
⚽While we’re talking about Rising FC, they open their home slate against a newcomer and fellow desert dweller, New Mexico United. That could be the start to a new rivalry in the USL’s Western Conference.
⚽Sacramento Republic FC opens their season at home against Real Monarchs SLC. The 2018 season ended way sooner than either side would have liked, both losing in the first road of the USL Cup playoffs. Monarchs SLC led the Western Conference for a large chunk of the season before dropping down to fourth on the final table.
⚽RGVFC hosting Fresno FC on March 16th will be a battle of clubs that probably deserved better 2018 records than they got. The Toros led the Western Conference with 14 draws and Fresno finished with a positive goal differential, the only club in the conference to miss the playoffs with such a stat.
⚽All aboard, El Paso Locomotive FC! They will host OKC Energy FC on March 9th and the expansion side has the potential to be an interesting team in the 2019 USL Championship season.
⚽LA Galaxy II will likely carry some explosive young talent, like breakout star Efrain Alvarez, this season and they will host defensively sound Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC. If they can score a few against the visitors, it will indicate upcoming nightmares for USL defenses.
⚽Austin Bold FC’s home opener comes against an in-state rival on March 30th. San Antonio FC will branch out from their rivalry with RGVFC to face the new blood in USL Championship’s Texas landscape.
Photo courtesy of L.E. Baskow/Lights FC