With 61 games on the League Two schedule for Week 3, there's a host of enticing matchups as we take a full jump into our season. Some teams have early results, some are just starting out, but all of them are looking for those precious playoff spots, and that starts as soon as the first ball is kicked. Here are your Matches to Watch for Week 3:
This League Two matchup of USL League One affiliate teams is guaranteed to have professional eyes watching the players and coaches as they set out on the Path 2 Pro by playing each other. Both teams are 0-1-0, with North Carolina FC U-23 losing narrowly to preseason No. 1 North Carolina Fusion U-23 and Charlotte Independence 2 losing to Charlotte Eagles at home. Both of these teams will be looking to get on track, to start amassing points to hunt down Fusion, West Virginia United and Charlotte Eagles for the South Atlantic Division’s guaranteed playoff spot. NCFC U-23 will be looking to keep goalkeeper Trace Alphin more secure this match (5 SOT allowed against NC Fusion U-23) while Independence will look to take their chances and beat the keeper when they dominate the ball (12 shots, 5 corner kicks against Charlotte Eagles). The midweek match will be the first of our Matches to Watch to kick off.
A rematch between the two clubs that topped the Northeast Division last season. Western Mass Pioneers ended up taking the division, and making a deep playoff run, while Boston Bolts fell early at the hands of Ocean City Nor’easters. The two clubs split their season series last year, with no less than four goals scored in any of their matches – Boston Bolts won the first meeting last season 4-0, while Pioneers took the most recent match 5-3. By taking those three points, Pioneers were propelled to the top of the division. Boston Bolts will be looking to assert themselves as division newcomers Vermont Green are off to a hot start, while Pioneers will be looking to bounce back after losing their first match for the second season in a row, this time a 2-0 loss to Boston City FC.
This is the first match of the season for both New Jersey Copa FC and Hudson Valley Hammers. It will be the first match in League Two ever for the Hammers, who are led and co-founded by USMNT star Tyler Adams and his family. They’ll face their first test on their home pitch at Mount St. Mary College against a New Jersey Copa team that’s looking to improve on their 5-6-3 record from last season. This match will set both of them up for a competitive season in a division that includes Long Island Rough Riders, FC Motown and Cedar Stars Rush.
An early match between two of League Two’s best. Mississippi Brilla is the only team in the Mid South Division that still hasn’t kicked off their season, and they’ll do so against Little Rock Rangers. Little Rock is coming off a dominant 4-0 win over LA Parish after losing their first game to Blue Goose SC 3-0 to start the year. Brilla made a solid playoff run last season, falling short in a pen shootout against Kalamazoo in the Central Conference Semifinals. Now, they’ll make the push to correct that shortcoming and set themselves up for success, while Rangers look to improve on their 6-7-1 finish in the division last season.
The first match of the season between two of our Best Kit competitors! This stylish contest will be between the old and the new – Ballard is setting out on their very first League Two season, while Lane United has been a fixture in the league for over five years already. The match between them will determine early supremacy in the powerhouse Northwest division, which features Capital FC, PDX FC and OVF Alliance. Every point matters, and both teams will be looking to set out on the right foot.
We can always appreciate the merits of a crosstown derby. One of our final matches to kick off in Week 3 is sure to be entertaining, as fans from across Chicago head into SeatGeek Stadium for this matchup. Chicago FC United is a longtime fixture in League Two, having made the playoffs last year before falling to Flint City Bucks. Chicago City SC, however, will be taking their first crack at this new league, and hope to make a statement by asserting a victory over their crosstown opponents.