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Matches to Watch in the 2024 season

By Staff, 05/03/24, 3:00PM EDT


These eight matchups will be pivotal in the story of the 2024 season

Over 800 matches will take place over the next three months that will pit some of the best pre-professional talent in the country against each other. They'll be filled with heart-stopping goals, massive comebacks, and incredible individual performances. There is no way to be certain of what we're in store for this season, but here are our picks for the eight must-see matches for the 2024 season.

The history maker vs the champion

Ballard FC vs Midlakes United, 5/24, 7 p.m. PT

When Justi Baumgardt takes to the touchline on May 24th, it'll be her second match at the helm of a senior men's team in the USL ecosystem - something no woman has done before. At Memorial Stadium in May, Baumgardt will be coaching across from former Seattle Sounder James Riley and the defending League Two Champions in Ballard FC. It'll be a trial by fire in a difficult division, but will surely make for exciting soccer and a competitive match.

Welcome to the league

River Light FC vs. Des Moines Menace, 5/30, 7 p.m. CT

River Light FC are poised to be one of the stronger expansion sides in the league, pulling in commitments from top talents across the country. There's no better litmus test for your competitiveness in the league than competing against one of its elder statesmen, and Des Moines prove just that. The five-time regular season champions, and two-time postseason champions, will be visiting River Light early on in the season. They'll bring with them a wealth of playing experience on their roster and a talented coach in Troy McKerrell. It's a chance for River Light to really show their mettle early on.

One of America's oldest rivalries

Reading United AC vs. Ocean City Nor'Easters, 6/1, 7 p.m. ET

Reading United and Ocean City have gone to war dozens of times, spanning multiple leagues over the last 30 years. The newest installment should feature one of the strongest Reading sides in some time - Ocean City have been the stronger team in recent years, but both should have a reasonable expectation to compete in the Mid-Atlantic Division in 2024. 

When birds attack

RKC Third Coast vs Minneapolis City SC, 6/13, 7 p.m. CT

Last season, RKC Third Coast and Minneapolis City SC played two matches against each other. There were 12 goals scored across the two matches, with Third Coast taking the victory in both instances. It was one of the highest scoring affairs in the league - on May 20th, the score was 4-2 after 45 minutes, before finishing 5-3 in RKC's favor. The Crows are returning plenty of attacking talent, and this match has the chance to be one of the most high-octane battles in the Central Conference in 2024.

Jogo de brasileiros

Brave SC vs. Nona FC, 6/15, 7 p.m. ET

Both of these clubs have a heavy Brazilian influence in both their leadership and their player pools. They'll be battling for supremacy in the Southeast Division, where these two 2023 playoff clubs finished at the top last season. This will be the first time they square off in 2024, and it could set the tone for the top of the division in the coming season.

Golden City Derby

San Francisco Glens SC vs. San Francisco City FC, 6/16, 1 p.m. PT

There may not be a better kit matchup all season in League Two. Both clubs feature instantly iconic front of shirt sponsors - Glens, with Guinness, will host City, who don a gorgeous kit with the San Francisco Municipal Railway, or Muni for short, across the front. Past the aesthetic pleasure, this is a derby for San Francisco - the players will have been plucked from colleges or other amateur clubs in the region, there's a chance some players may even be teammates in other instances. This will be an intense and enjoyable affair.

So Cal Supremacy

Ventura County Fusion vs. Redlands FC, 7/11, 7 p.m. PT

Last season, Redlands FC jumped out in front at the end of the season to capture the Southwest Division title from the 2022 Champions in their first go around in League Two. This match will probably similarly decide the fate of the division - and may carry priority for an Open Cup bid along with it. This match will be supremely important for both sides.

The keys to the playoffs

Western Mass Pioneers vs. Vermont Green FC, 7/13, 7 pm ET

At the end of the 2023 season, Western Mass Pioneers played spoiler to Vermont Green FC's playoff push, and just beat them to that final Northeast playoff spot. Despite an expanded Eastern Conference Playoffs this year, neither club will have any interest in playing an extra playoff round to get into the field of 32. The Pioneers are resilient and talented - will they hold the Green off on the last day of the season, or will this be Vermont's chance to break through?

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