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Expert Predictions - Semifinals

By USLLeagueOne.com Staff, 10/10/19, 5:45PM EDT

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See who our experts have meeting in the first ever League One Final

The inaugural USL League One season has come down to four teams fighting for a spot in the final. Our experts are weighing in on both Semifinal matches. Do you agree or disagree with their expert picks? 

North Texas SC
1st
October 12
8:00 PM EST
Forward Madison FC
4th
Nicholas Murray
USL
North Texas SC 2, Forward Madison FC 1
“There are plenty of good reasons to think Forward Madison FC can spring a surprise on the road against North Texas. The Flamingos have a veteran squad that includes plenty of playoff experience, and are coming off a dominant road display that booked their place in the postseason this past weekend to run their undefeated streak to five games – a streak that includes a home win against North Texas on September 22.

But North Texas at home has been the best team in the league this season – every game they’ve led at Toyota Stadium, they’ve taken home three points, which is how you get a 10-1-3 record – and while its young players may not have postseason experience in the professional ranks, they know what it takes to win thanks to their success in the U.S. Soccer Development Academy.

The creativity of Arturo Rodriguez leads the way as he records a goal and an assist to put North Texas up by a pair of goals inside the opening hour, and while Madison gets on the board to set up a big finish through a goal by Josiel Nunez, the hosts are able to see out the victory and advance to the League One Final.”
Jason Weintraub
Beautiful Game Network
North Texas SC 2 Forward Madison FC 1
“I can understand the hype around the possibility of Madison coming into this game and pulling the upset. Riding a five-game unbeaten streak that includes a win over North Texas into the Semifinal match, the Flamingos are the hottest team in the league. However, there are two major differences between this game and Madison’s 1-0 win over NTSC in September – where it’s being played and who’s playing.

North Texas has only lost at home once this year, which came in a match where it played down a man for 70 minutes. I expect Eric Quill to roll out a stronger Starting XI than the one that lined up against Madison on September 22. I think we’ll see regular starters Alfusainey Jatta, goalkeeper Carlos Avilez, and perhaps talisman Ricardo Pepi return to the XI on Saturday which will make life exceedingly more difficult for the Flamingos.

Madison gets on the board via a header after North Texas opens the scoring in the first half, but, my choice for league MVP, Arturo Rodriguez comes up big with a late goal to help North Texas advance to the USL League One final. ”
John Arlia
USL
North Texas SC 3, Forward Madison FC 1
“Having played each other four times over the course of the campaign, there’s enough of a sample size to generally see how this game is going to play out. North Texas will maintain the lion’s share of possession on its home turf, while Madison will look to pick its spots going forward and hit NTSC on the counter.

The Flamingos enter the postseason on the best form of any squad in the field – unbeaten in their past five games – and are coming off a must-win road victory against second-seed Lansing Ignite FC. That, coupled with a 1-0 home victory over North Texas during that five-game stretch, should give the veteran-laden side the confidence to progress.

While I do think Madison will make things difficult for North Texas at times, the home team won each of the four meetings between the two sides during the regular season and I don’t think that trend ends on Saturday at Toyota Stadium. The hosts have too much firepower up front and that will shine through in the second half as goals from Golden Boot Ronaldo Damus and Assists Champion Arturo Rodriguez give North Texas hosting rights for the League One Final.”

Lansing Ignite FC
2nd
October 12
7:00 PM EST
Greenville Triumph SC
3rd
Nicholas Murray
USL
Lansing Ignite FC 1, Greenville Triumph SC 1
Greenville wins in Penalty Shootout
"Lansing Ignite FC should go in a solid favorite to win on home turf, especially after putting in such a lackluster display in its home finale against Forward Madison FC that opened the chance it wouldn’t host this game. I’d expect a response from the side here, and the hosts come out firing early to try and take the initiative.

But Greenville – behind its league-best defense and goalkeeper Dallas Jaye – withstands that pressure and takes the lead just after the half-hour mark as Carlos Gomez’s stellar late-season form continues to put Triumph SC ahead at halftime. Lansing rallies back and equalizes with 20 minutes to go through Rafa Mentzingen, but from there the game remains tight as each side guards against giving up a potential game-winner instead of trying to take victory inside 90 minutes.

Extra time, then, and while both teams are more attacking as the game becomes stretched through fatigue, a goal doesn’t arrive and we head to a penalty shootout. From there, the head-to-head between presumptive Goalkeeper of the Year finalists Dallas Jaye of Greenville and Stefan Cleveland of Lansing takes center stage. Jaye makes two saves to Cleveland’s one, and Tyler Polak scores the winning goal for the visitors as they spring the upset."
Jason Weintraub
Beautiful Game Network
Lansing Ignite FC 3, Greenville Triumph SC 1
“This game very well could be 0-0 after 90 minutes and may not have a single shot on goal in the first 20 minutes. With the league’s second highest scoring attack facing off against its best defense, I expect this game to be a chess match with both coaches making multiple adjustments throughout.

While the Ignite’s attack shined throughout the regular season, it will be their back three that makes the difference in the playoffs. Greenville struggles to win long balls played out of the back, which Kevin Coiffic, Brandon Fricke and Grant Stoneman should be able to exploit with their passing abilities. I expect Coiffic and co. to launch long balls in behind the Greenville defense to relieve pressure and create chances at the other end for some combination of Tumi Moshobane, Rafael Mentzignen, Pato Botello Faz and Elma N’For.

Lansing looked out of the loop last week but have not lost back-to-back games since April, a trend that will continue this weekend. Pato tallies a first-half goal with Coiffic creating the chance out of the back, forcing Greenville to chase the game. The Triumph press for an equalizer and leave too much space for Mentzignen and Moshobane who both tack on goals to put this one out of reach before Greenville can provide an answer. ”
John Arlia
USL
Lansing Ignite FC 1, Greenville Triumph SC 0
“After the first three meetings between the two sides, Triumph SC holds a slight head-to-head advantage over Ignite FC by virtue of a 2-1 home victory on the second week of the season that preceded a pair of 1-1 draws. That might’ve meant more to me if Greenville had secured homefield advantage with a win in either of its final two regular-season games against non-playoff sides, but since it failed leapfrog Lansing in the standings I’m more concerned about how the visitors bounce back from their first two-game losing streak of the season.

Ignite FC didn’t end the regular season particularly well either, earning a draw against South Georgia Tormenta FC before suffering its second home defeat of the campaign on the final weekend against Madison, but still managed to hold on to the second seed. That’s massive for Lansing as the side posted an 8-2-4 record at Cooley Law School Stadium during the regular season and matched North Texas with a league-high 28 goals scored on its home turf.

Greenville can counter that with its league-low of 13 goals conceded in 14 away games this season, but I think in the end Triumph SC will rue letting the opportunity to host this game at Legacy Early College slip through its hands as Nick Moon breaks the deadlock early in the second half to see Lansing through to the Final.”

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