After looking over this year’s USL PRO schedule, there are always games that definitely stick out to supporters of the league. They are games that you circle on the calendar, count the days down and look forward to the matchup. Here are five USL PRO games to watch.
1. Pittsburgh at Harrisburg-Skyline Sports Complex; June 14 @ 7PM
There is no bigger rivalry in USL PRO than this: two teams in the same state, consistent mainstays at top USL levels and players that are hungry to beat the other team no matter what. Last year, Harrisburg played spoilers, beating Pittsburgh in the first game at Highmark Stadium, with the score 2-1. The Riverhounds did return the favor, beating the City Islanders in a 4-3 thriller. With both teams now affiliated, Harrisburg with Philadelphia and Pittsburgh with Houston, the Keystone Derby is going to be even more interesting.
2. Charlotte at Orlando- ESPN Wide World of Sports; May 21 @ 7:30PM
Last year’s USL PRO Championship had all the makings of a historical final. With not only the amount of people that were on hand to watch the game, but the spectacular performance by both teams, it was definitely a game to remember. While Dom Dwyer stole the show for Orlando City in their 7-4 title win, it is the Lions that are now working to bring the club’s performance for their USL PRO curtain call on their way to MLS. Charlotte are working on their own curtain call, moving to PDL next season. Hopefully game has as much energy as their last meeting.
3. Oklahoma City at Sacramento- Cal Expo; August 9 @ 10:30pm
It’s always fun when two expansion teams come into the league at the same time. Both teams already have high aspirations to move outside of USL PRO, but for now it is a good match to keep an eye on. The two big names to keep an eye on won’t be on the field, but on the sideline. Sacramento made a splash in getting MLS legend Preki, while Oklahoma City signed Jimmy Nielsen to manage, on the heels of retiring from current MLS Cup winners Sporting Kansas City.
4. Rochester at Dayton- location TBD; April 11 @ 7PM
Last year was a season of postseason firsts for Rochester and Dayton. It was the first year Rochester was not in the playoffs, but it was a year to remember for Dayton in their first appearance. Bob Lilley is looking to turn the Rhinos back into their normal league powerhouse. Last year they were the only team that had an MLS affiliate (Rochester has New England) that did not make the playoffs. Dayton has resigned some key players and affiliated themselves with the Columbus Crew.
5. Richmond at LA Galaxy II- Stub Hub Center; September 1 @10:30pm
Richmond was a guinea pig last year, as one of the first teams with a MLS affiliation. They partnered with DC United and it payed off, winning the regular season title and only losing one game. LA Galaxy II look to be a guinea pig for MLS teams, instead of putting their Reserve team in the MLS league, they’ll try their luck at the USL PRO level.