Week 12 Preview: what you need to know
If this were hockey, we would be starting the second period...
Amazing that we are already a third of the way through the season, but here we are. Indeed, the Legion should have 13 games under its belt, but we all know why that isn’t so. All we need now is for Tropical Storm Elsa to take an unexpected turn west before Saturday…
Yes, the Three Sparks have (tentatively) a home game this Saturday with Memphis 901 coming to town for the second time this season (6:30pm, ESPN+ my68). Area Code FC has suffered a collapse since then, with just 2 wins and 9 points from 9 games.
All right, yes that’s not a collapse. It is of course a highly predictable failure to perform at any level. The most recent failure was a 2-2 draw at Atlanta United 2. They had led 2-0 before each team lost a player to red cards just before half time in a rather hysterical slap fight. However, they conspired to give up 2 second half goals to drop 2 points. That included a penalty kick at the end of stoppage time. That was their second 2-2 draw in Kennesaw, and they have also played Atlanta at home once, winning 1-0. So 5 of their 9 points have come from one team. The weekend’s contest thus pits the top and bottom teams in the Central Division (although to be fair, on a PPG basis, Memphis would be much better at #7).
Aside from that, play in the Central kicks off tonight as Atlanta welcomes Indy Eleven (6:30pm). Twonited’s fortunes have faded of late, but that probably has more to do with benching Aidan McFadden than anything else. A win would put them back in playoff position though. There are no other games in the division until Saturday. Atlanta are back in action against SKC II (6:30pm) and so have a good chance this week to right the ship. Indy also play again Saturday, again on the road, this time at a surprisingly revitalized OKC Energy (7:30pm).
The biggest game in the division this week though FC Tulsa v. Louisville City (7:30pm Saturday). A Tulsa win would give the Legion a bit of breathing room at the top. However, Lou City are in form (as usual) and are the newly crowned #1 team in the Power Rankings on the back of a league-best 5-game unbeaten streak. Note however that the Legion is the best team over the past 6 games with 15 of 18 possible points.
Elsewhere, Week 12 has in fact already started, as Orange County and Tacoma Defiance played to a rather dull 0-0 draw last night. The rest of the schedule probably doesn’t have too many games of immediate interest to Three Sparks fans. About the best of the bunch will be tonight’s game (8:00pm) between Austin Bold and Rio Grande Valley, the #2 and #3 teams in the Mountain Division.
Not that it matters because the biggest game of the weekend by far will be the 2021 European Championship final (2:00pm Sunday, ESPN). England will face Italy, returning to Wembley, the venue (well, the rebuilt version of it anyway) of their last major tournament victory just 19 days shy of 55 years ago: the 1966 World Cup.
And before you ask, yes, I remember that game.