NCFC's Jay Tee Kamara celebrates after scoring / Photo courtesy North Carolina FC
The League One season will officially reach its midway point in late July, and after a busy month of June, we’re beginning to get a clearer picture of how the table could look come the end of the season. However, there’s plenty of action still in front of us, and as Tormenta FC showed in June, one hot streak can dramatically change the outlook for any given team in a short span of time.
With that in mind, here are five League One games in July you should be sure not to miss.
The two teams at the top of the points-per-game table at the end of June will treat us to a matchup in July’s first weekend. Though it’s still early to be thinking about playoff seeding, it’s a big chance for both sides to lay down a statement of intent.
For Omaha, it’s a chance to put a seven-point gap between itself and the Red Wolves, which would be some welcome breathing space. On the other side, a win for Chattanooga would see the Red Wolves claw within one point of Omaha having played two fewer games, putting them in a great position to take over top spot in the coming weeks.
It will be a big test for this impressive, new-look Chattanooga team to go into Werner Park and get a result, where Omaha is a perfect 3-0-0 and has only allowed two goals this season. Adding an extra layer of intrigue is the presence of Greg Hurst and Conor Doyle, two starters for Omaha who played for Chattanooga last season. This is definitely one to keep an eye on.
The season’s first edition of “El Plástico” (the nickname for this matchup, which stems from Toyota Stadium’s policy against allowing plastic birds inside the grounds) promises to be a good one, as both teams find themselves in mid-table to start the month with ambitions of moving up.
Historically, this fixture has gone the way of North Texas. The Lone Star State club has won 4 of the 6 previous meetings between the pair, including doing the double over the Flamingos last season. That final game was decided on a last minute penalty kick at Madison’s then-home ground of Hart Park, and was the only time in this matchup’s history where the away team has won.
The Flamingos will be aiming to pick up points in Texas for the first time in their history come July 10, and it should make for a highly entertaining game.
We’ve already seen this ornithological rivalry take place twice this season. Madison became the first (and to date, still the only) team to beat Omaha so far this season back on May 26, before Omaha got revenge with a 2-1 win on June 6.
Both those games took place at Breese Stevens Field up in Wisconsin, and come mid-July it will be the Flamingos’ turn to migrate southwest to take on the Owls. Each club has its own big and vocal following on social media, and as the postseason race begins to heat up, expect to see the clubs battling it out for top honors with each other.
This is another matchup we’ve seen twice this season, with the two sides splitting a pair of games at Erk Russell Park in Statesboro. Greenville took the first meeting 1-0 thanks to a goal from Marios Lomis, but Tormenta hit back a month later with a high-quality 3-1 win.
The two clubs contested the inaugural League One match against one another, and are located less than 200 miles apart. That’s made for a good rivalry, and despite the fact Triumph SC finished much higher in the standings in both 2019 and 2020, the head-to-head record is fairly even: in eight previous matchups to date, Greenville owns four wins and Tormenta three, with one game finishing as a draw.
Alex Morrell, one of the driving forces behind Greenville’s title win in 2020, arrived in South Carolina from South Georgia, where he played during the 2019 season. That shared history with a star player adds another layer to what should be an intriguing contest at Legacy Early College.
If last Friday’s meeting between these two is anything to go by, we could be in for a treat here. Thanks to a goal and an assist from Jay Tee Kamara, NCFC picked up a comeback win against Richmond for its first victory in League One. In fact, all four of NCFC’s points this season have been earned against the Kickers.
That’s a record that surely leaves a bad taste in Richmond’s mouth, and the Virginia club will not have to wait long for its chance at revenge. We can’t know what kind of form the teams will be in come July 21, but no matter how each is doing, both will want to beat the other - both for table positioning, and for bragging rights in a matchup that has the potential to grow into a strong regional rivalry.