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USL Championship, Riverhounds SC release 2021 schedule

Photo courtesy Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC

Start marking your calendars Pittsburgh soccer fans, the USL Championship released its 2021 schedule today, as the Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC will be facing a 32-game grind from early May through October.

The Hounds will play 28 of those matches against Atlantic Division foes (will play each team four times each), beginning with its season opener against the Eastern Conference defending champions, Tampa Bay Rowdies, on the road on Saturday, May 8.

Here’s the link to the Hounds full 2021 schedule. 

One update from last week’s announcement of USL Championship home openers includes the Hounds first home date now being moved up to Saturday, May 22, when the Charlotte Independence will visit Highmark Stadium.

In addition, Pittsburgh will play four matches out of the division, including facing Austin Bold FC on June 6.  They’ll also see the return of Robbie Mertz when they take on Atlanta United 2 at home, while playing road games at Indy Eleven and San Antonio FC.

Also on the team’s slate is a busy June with seven total matches, including first-time meetings at home with Austin Bold FC (June 6) and Miami FC (June 12). Charlotte returns to face the Hounds on Independence Day weekend match Saturday, July 3, and the Hounds have three home dates each month from June-October, closing the regular season with a two-game homestand against longtime, USL Old Guard foe Charleston Battery (Oct. 23) and newfound divisional rival Hartford Athletic (Oct. 30).

According to the Riverhounds SC announcement, they’re entering the 2021 season prepared to safely welcome its fans to Highmark Stadium.

Current Pennsylvania regulations allow for capacity of 1,100 on match days, and the team’s plans will continue to evolve as state guidelines for outdoor gatherings change. Season and half-season ticket holders will be able to attend under the current guidelines, and further ticket sale and distribution policies will be announced at a later date.

USL Schedule Release

USL Championship today announced its full schedule for the 2021 season. The 496-game regular season that marks the league’s 11th campaign is set to kick off on Saturday, April 24 and conclude on Saturday, October 30 with a 15-game slate that sees all-but-one of the league’s 31 teams in action on the final day of the regular season.

As previously announced, the 2021 Championship regular season will see each of the league’s teams play a 32-game schedule over a 28-week regular season, with the league divided into four divisions and two conferences. The structure for the 2021 USL Championship Playoffs will be announced prior to the start of the regular season.

Highlighting the schedule is a clash between the reigning Eastern and Western Conference Title holders, with the Tampa Bay Rowdies set to play host to Phoenix Rising FC at Al Lang Stadium on Saturday, May 15. The Rowdies will also host another Western Conference side as part of their home slate, with Oakland Roots SC visiting Tampa Bay on Friday, September 3.

There are numerous additional intriguing interconference matchups throughout the season, including two-time Championship title-winner Louisville City FC playing host to San Diego Loyal SC and Head Coach Landon Donovan on Saturday, May 22. Then on Monday, July 12, New Mexico United – which in 2019 led the Championship in attendance – and the Charleston Battery – who will be celebrating their 29th season of action this year – will square off for the first time.

FC Tulsa, which makes the move to the Eastern Conference in 2021, will also get a chance at revenge for its postseason elimination last season when it plays host to El Paso Locomotive FC at ONEOK Field on Saturday, October 9. Then on the final day of the regular season, Las Vegas Lights FC will play host to the Tampa Bay Rowdies at Cashman Field.

Rivalries are also at the forefront, with Louisville City FC and Indy Eleven set to renew acquaintances for the first edition of the 2021 Louisville Indianapolis Proximity Association Football Contest – or LIPAFC for short – at LouCity’s Lynn Family Stadium on Saturday, May 29. The two sides will also square off in the final month of the regular season at Indy’s Michael A. Carroll Stadium, where playoff position should be up for grabs on Saturday, October 16.

The rivalries between El Paso Locomotive FC and New Mexico United in the Mountain Division and Florida rivals Miami FC and the Tampa Bay Rowdies will continue to intensify, meanwhile, with New Mexico set to host Locomotive FC on both Saturday, July 24 and Saturday August 14 at Isotopes Park in the middle of the season. Miami and Tampa Bay will also square off twice at Riccardo Silva Stadium in Miami in the span of 10 days, meeting on both Wednesday, July 7 and Saturday, July 17.

The season will conclude on Saturday, October 30 with crucial games in the final push for postseason places and position. Among the 15-game slate is an interconference matchup between Austin Bold FC and the Charlotte Independence joining that of Las Vegas and Tampa Bay. Divisional matchups to watch include Birmingham Legion FC playing host to Louisville City FC at BBVA Field, the final Black Gold Derby of the season between FC Tulsa and OKC Energy FC at ONEOK Field, a matchup between Sacramento Republic FC and San Diego Loyal SC at Papa Murphy’s Park, and the 405 Derby between Orange County SC and the LA Galaxy II.

In conjunction with the announcement of the league’s full schedule, the Championship also announced a pair of changes to the league’s previously announced home openers slate. Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC will now face the Charlotte Independence at Highmark Stadium on Saturday, May 22, while Austin Bold FC will host Real Monarchs SLC at Bold Stadium on Wednesday, May 26.

More details on the 2021 USL Championship season, including the national television schedule on ESPN and the postseason structure, will be available in the coming weeks.

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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