A rematch from the 2016 USL Cup playoffs will see the fourth-seeded Rochester Rhinos play host to the No. 5-seed Charlotte Independence in the Eastern Conference quarterfinals at Capelli Sport Stadium Saturday night.
The Rhinos recorded a 3-1 victory against the Independence a season ago, and the teams ended the regular season moving in opposite directions with Rochester on a three-game winning streak and the Independence on a five-game losing streak.
Second-seeded Charleston Battery will host seventh-seeded and defending champion Red Bulls II in the quarterfinals of the United Soccer League playoffs at MUSC Health Stadium in Charleston, S.C. Saturday night at 7 p.m. ET.
The Eastern quarterfinals will kick off Friday night as No. 1-seed Louisville City FC plays host to No. 8 seed Bethlehem Steel FC at Slugger Field at 7:30 p.m. ET. Having reached the conference final each of its first two seasons, Louisville is the top seed in the East for the first time in its history, ensuring homefield advantage until at least the USL Cup.
The Tampa Bay Rowdies make their USL playoffs debut as the East’s No. 3 seed and will host No. 6-seed FC Cincinnati on Saturday at 7:30 p.m. ET at Al Lang Stadium.
The Western Conference quarters also kick off oFriday night, as 2017 USL Regular Season Champion and overall No. 1-seed Real Monarchs SLC play host to No. 8-seed Sacramento Republic FC at 10 p.m. ET at Rio Tinto Stadium. Making their postseason debut, the Monarchs are looking to become the third consecutive side to complete the double by adding the USL Cup to its regular season title, following the Rochester Rhinos (2015) and New York Red Bulls II (2016).
Second-seeded San Antonio FC will also make its USL Cup Playoffs debut when it hosts No. 7-seed Tulsa Roughnecks FC at Toyota Field Saturday at 8:30 p.m. ET. No. 3-seed Reno 1868 FC hosts No. 6-seed OKC Energy FC at 8:45 p.m. ET at Greater Nevada Field on Saturday as well.
Defending USL Western Conference champions the Swope Park Rangers are the No. 4 seed for a second consecutive year and will begin their pursuit of a return to the USL Cup when they host No. 5-seed Phoenix Rising FC Saturday at 8:30 p.m. ET at Children’s Mercy Victory Field.
The playoffs feature seven teams making their first appearances, including five in the Western Conference. The postseason featured four former champions, with the Charleston Battery (2012), Sacramento Republic FC (2014), Rochester Rhinos (2015) and Red Bulls II (2016) all aiming to add a second USL Cup.