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USL Championship releases ‘friendlier’ 2019 schedule, expanded playoff format

A holiday gift has come early this year for the Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC and its loyal fans!

USL Championship released its entire 2019 regular season schedule and expanded playoff format earlier today as the Riverhounds SC now know the full details of its 34-game slate for its 20th anniversary campaign. The most grueling stretch of the season may come right at the beginning when the Hounds will play its first four games on the road before finally coming home to face Hartford Athletic on April 13 in the sixth anniversary of the first home opener in Highmark Stadium history. That match will also mark the return (for the second time) of former Riverhounds 2013 USL MVP Jose Angulo.

As anticipated, the Hounds will face every team in the Eastern Conference twice in a home-and-home format.

The season opens for Pittsburgh as they travel to take on the Tampa Bay Rowdies, then ensuing road dates at a new Eastern Conference foe, Swope Park Rangers, cross-state rival Bethlehem Steel FC and then they face defending USL Champion Louisville City FC on Saturday, April 6 at Slugger Field in the Derby City.

Every home match at Highmark Stadium will be played on a Saturday with the exception of the team’s July 4 showdown against Bethlehem Steel FC – a Thursday rematch of this past season’s first-ever playoff game at Highmark Stadium.

In all, the schedule mostly avoids mid-week games (only three total) — and more than one game a week for much of the season with a few exceptions. Pittsburgh’s final home contest, a match against Atlanta United 2, will take place on Oct. 5. The club will close out the season with two road contests — at Saint Louis FC on October 13, then at Birmingham Legion FC on Oct. 20.

The USL Championship also announced a brand-new playoff format that will be implemented in 2019.

The top 10 teams from each conference will make the postseason with the No. 7 through No. 10 seeds competing in a Play-In Round. After this round, the single-elimination format will continue over the next four weeks in a fixed-bracket tournament. The USL Cup will be held between Nov. 14-18.

The full 2019 regular season and provisional playoff schedule are below. Kickoff times are to be announced.

2019 Regular Season Schedule:

Saturday, March 16 – @Tampa Bay Rowdies

Saturday, March 23 – @Swope Park Rangers

Saturday, March 30 – @Bethlehem Steel FC


Saturday, April 6 – @Louisville City FC

Saturday, April 13 – Hartford Athletic

Saturday, April 20 – Saint Louis FC

Saturday, April 27 – Nashville SC


Saturday, May 4 – @Charleston Battery

Saturday, May 18 – @Memphis 901 FC

Saturday, May 25 – Charlotte Independence


Saturday, June 1 – @Indy Eleven

Saturday, June 8 – Ottawa Fury FC

Saturday, June 15 – @Atlanta United 2

Saturday, June 22 – New York Red Bulls II

Saturday, June 29 – Birmingham Legion FC


Thursday, July 4 – Bethlehem Steel FC

Sunday, July 7 – @Charlotte Independence

Saturday, July 13 – Tampa Bay Rowdies

Saturday, July 20 – North Carolina FC

Saturday, July 27 – @Hartford Athletic


Saturday, Aug. 3 – Memphis 901 FC

Saturday, Aug. 10 – Swope Park Rangers

Wednesday, Aug. 14 – @New York Red Bulls II

Saturday, Aug. 17 – @North Carolina FC

Saturday, Aug. 24 – Loudoun United FC

Friday, Aug. 30 – @Ottawa Fury FC


Saturday, Sept. 7 – Louisville City FC

Saturday, Sept. 14 – Charleston Battery

Saturday, Sept. 21 – @Nashville SC

Saturday, Sept. 28 – Indy Eleven


Tuesday, Oct. 1 – @Loudoun United FC

Saturday, Oct. 5 – Atlanta United 2

Saturday, Oct. 12 – @Saint Louis FC

Sunday, Oct. 20 – @Birmingham Legion FC


2019 USL Cup Playoffs Schedule:

Play-In Round – Oct. 23

Conference Quarterfinals – Oct. 25-27

Conference Semifinals – Nov. 1-3

Conference Finals – Nov. 8-10

USL Cup – Nov. 14-18





John Krysinsky has covered soccer and other sports for many years for various publications and media outlets. He is also author of 'Miracle on the Mon' -- a book about the Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC, which chronicles the club, particularly the early years of Highmark Stadium with the narrative leading up to and centered around a remarkable match that helped provide a spark for the franchise. John has covered sports for Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, DK Pittsburgh Sports, Pittsburgh Sports Report, has served as color commentator on Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC broadcasts, and worked with OPTA Stats and broadcast teams for US Open Cup and International Champions Cup matches held in the US. Krysinsky also served as the Head Men’s Soccer Coach at his alma mater, Point Park University, where he led the Pioneers to the first-ever winning seasons and playoff berths (1996-98); head coach of North Catholic boys (2007-08), associate head coach of Shady Side Academy boys (2009-2014).

Riverhounds MF Danny Griffin

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