The purview of the USL doesn’t just extend to men’s professional soccer. A few weeks back, Indy Eleven took home the title in the amateur USL W League. This Saturday, Ballard FC, a Seattle-based club co-owned by Lamar Neagle, won USL League Two, the semi-pro tier with more than 122 competitive teams as of 2023.
League Two and teams like Ballard matter because they expand the reach of the game to small towns and niche communities, and they also provide a crucial stepping stone on the developmental ladder. Earlier this year, Premier League club Leicester City signed Nathan Opoku, a product of League Two’s Ventura County Fusion; he and many other college soccer stars compete there during their summers.
The USL is more than just its top tier, but that’s the main focus here. What went down in the USL Championship this week, and who’s on the rise? Let’s dig in.
1.) Sacramento (No change)
Result: W 1-0 at Monterey
Back in form with two straight wins, Sacramento took the short trip to Monterey on Saturday, seeking revenge after a tight loss in June. Since then, Jared Timmer has emerged as an unlikely stalwart as the left wing back. It’s been a change for the right-footed central defender, while Zeiko Lewis has given the team a new attacking look as a false No. 9. Timmer's relative depth on his side adds a certain surety for the Republic, liberating Jack Gurr - the right wing back - to be that much more aggressive in joining the attack.
Those trends came together to see Sacramento into the lead. Lewis came deep into the midfield, playing a ball into Timmer's feet. From there, the defender launched a switch towards Gurr, making a wild run to fill in at striker. The defense didn't know how to react, and the Republic had scored moments later.
It was as assured as ever from there. Conor Donovan, as always, was immense in the middle of the back three, stepping up against an athletic Monterey front line. Danny Vitiello, a Golden Glove contender, was assured, though he wasn't forced into a save all night. Sacramento is a machine.