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Match Previews - 4.1.2023

By Staff, 03/31/23, 3:45PM EDT


Busy week features top-of-the-table clash, City Stadium homecoming, Fuego FC's return to action and more

One KNoxville SC VS. Union Omaha*

Venue: Regal Soccer Stadium; Knoxville, Tenn.
Kickoff: 6 p.m. ET
Weather: Windy, 70°
Hashtag: #KNXvOMA
Series (First Meeting): 0-0-0 (2023)

*Match postponed to later date

Expansion side One Knoxville SC (1-0-0, 3rd) will face its biggest test yet as Mark McKeever's side welcomes League One power Union Omaha (0-0-1, 6th) to Regal Soccer Stadium on Saturday. Last time out, Knoxville bested new rival Lexington SC 2-1 on March 18, while the visiting Owls are fresh off a thrilling 1-1 draw against Madison on Sunday. Knoxville have what it takes to go toe-to-toe with the Owls, but Omaha will aim to increase their solid 13-4-6 record against expansion sides in their respective first seasons.


KNX - Jimmie Villalobos: Villalobos netted the first professional goal in One Knox history via his 17th-minute penalty conversion and added to Knoxville’s victory with his 93% passing accuracy and nine recoveries.

OMA - JP Scearce: Omaha’s all-time appearances leader scored the first goal of the season for the Owls, hammering in a header in the 20th minute against Madison. Scearce also claimed eight recoveries and won nine of his 13 combined tackles and duels.




Richmond Kickers VS. Charlotte Independence

Venue: City Stadium; Richmond, Va.
Kickoff: 6 p.m. ET
Weather: Windy, 76°
Hashtag: #RICvCLT
Series (First Meeting): 7-4-5, CLT (2015)

Professional soccer returns to City Stadium for the 28th consecutive season as the Richmond faithful will enjoy a top-of-the-table clash between the Richmond Kickers (1-0-1, 2nd) and Charlotte Independence (1-0-1, 1st). Already the second meeting between the pair this season, the Kickers and Jacks played to a scoreless draw at American Legion Memorial Stadium. With both sides picking up their first wins of the 2023 campaign in Week 2, the Jacks will look to add to their league-high three goals on the season, and the Kickers extend their clean sheet streak to three.


RIC - Nil Vinyals: Vinyals assisted Kharlton Belmar’s early match-winning score in the Kickers’ victory in Greenville. Vinyals was productive in the win, completing 82% of his passes, creating four chances and winning a week-high five fouls.

CLT - Clay Dimick: Dimick led the league with his eight tackles and five tackles won while also winning 12 of his 13 duels in Charlotte’s 3-1 victory over South Georgia.


RIC: F David Olsen (out, injury), F Ethan Vanacore-Decker (out, injury)

CLT: D - Carson Talboys (out, injury)

North Carolina FC VS. Lexington SC

Venue: WakeMed Soccer Park; Cary, N.C.
Kickoff: 7 p.m. ET
Weather: Sunny, 73°
Hashtag: #NCvLEX
Series (First Meeting): 0-0-0 (2023)

North Carolina FC (0-1-0, 12th) is set to face its 73rd unique opponent in its 17-year history as John Bradford's boys face newcomers Lexington SC (0-1-0, 10th) Saturday at WakeMed Soccer Park. Both coming off of tough one-goal losses to open their respective 2023 campaigns, NCFC and LSC are will chase their first win of the season. NCFC is 100% healthy and have returned their duo of international stars in Nelson Flores Blanco and Oalex Anderson, while Lexington will be without veteran leader Don Smart.


NC - Jaden Servania: Servania created a pair of chances, completed over 80% of his passes and won 10 of his 15 combined duels and tackles in his side’s narrow defeat to South Georgia in Friday’s season opener.

LEX - Kaelon Fox: Named to the Team of the Week Bench in week 1, Lexington SC’s first-ever signing, is a Louisville, Ky. native and former Kentucky Wildcat. In LSC's first match, Fox claimed 13 recoveries, recorded four clearances and completed 82% of his passes.



LEX: M - Don Smart (out, suspension)

Chattanooga Red Wolves SC VS. Central Valley Fuego FC

Venue: CHI Memorial Stadium; Chattanooga, Tenn.
Kickoff: 7:30 p.m. ET
Weather: Sunny, 67°
Hashtag: #CHAvCV
Series (First Meeting): 2-0-1, CHA (2022)

After a postponement of its first match that was slated for Week 2, the last of League One's 12 teams will finally get its season going as Central Valley Fuego FC (0-0-0, 9th) face Chattanooga Red Wolves SC (0-0-1, 7th) at CHI Memorial Stadium. Martín Vásquez's side will hope their extended preseason will help them take down the Red Wolves for the first time, while the Red Wolves will look to earn their second consecutive clean sheet behind the stellar play of Carlos Avilez in goal even with the absence of two of their top defenders - Manuel Madrid and Richard Rentería - for the second consecutive week. 


CHA - Carlos Avilez: Avilez set a personal and club record with his eight saves against Northern Colorado on Saturday, helping Chattanooga start the Ziggy Korytoski era off with a point and a clean sheet.

CV - José Carrera-García: Following an ultra-productive 2022 campaign that saw Carrera-García captain Chattanooga to a USL League One Final appearance and earn All-League First Team honors, the 27-year-old midfielder has returned to his native California with Fuego FC and will open his season against his former club in Chattanooga. The Mexican midfielder dished out the most successful passes and won the most tackles across League One in 2022.


CHA: D - Manuel Madrid (questionable, injury), F - Ropapa Mensah (out, eligibility), D - Richard Rentería (out, eligibility)

CV: D - Abdul Cromwell (out, injury), F - Cherif Dieye (out, injury), D - François Dulysse (out, injury), F - David Ramon (out, injury), D - Sam Strong (out, injury), M - Adrian Vera (out, injury)

South Georgia Tormenta FC VS. Northern Colorado hailstorm FC

Venue: Optim Sports Medicine Field at Tormenta Stadium; Statesboro, Ga.
Kickoff: 7:30 p.m. ET
Weather: Partly cloudy, 74°
Hashtag: #TRMvNCO
Series (First Meeting): 1-1-1 (2022)

South Georgia Tormenta FC (1-1-0, 4th) will look to bounce back from a disappointing Week 2 outing as the defending champs welcome Northern Colorado Hailstorm FC (0-0-1, 8th) to Statesboro for just the second time. The Hailstorm return talented goalkeeper Johan Peñaranda for the first time this season, but the temporary loss of Irvin Parra and Brecc Evans will be tough for Northern Colorado. Tormenta FC has been enjoying the productivity out of Mukwelle Akale up top, but the absence of Kazaiah Sterling has become more apparent each week.


TRM - Mukwelle Akale: Akale was a bright spot for Tormenta FC is an otherwise disappointing evening in Statesboro. In addition to a remarkable score off a free kick, Akale completed 85% of his passes and won six duels.

NCO - Arthur Rogers: The ultra-productive 2022 League One Defender of the Year began his 2023 campaign with a week-high five chances created and four successful crosses in the Hailstorm’s scoreless draw in Chattanooga. According to American Soccer Analysis, Rogers maintained the highest passing score on the week.


TRM: F - Arthur Bosua (questionable, injury), D - Preston Kilwien (suspension, out), F - Kazaiah Sterling (questionable, injury)

NCO: GK - Joel Chavez (out, injury), D - Brecc Evans (out, injury), F - Irvin Parra (out, personal)

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