Movers and shakers
Last week we took a first look at how the playoff picture is shaping up. We’ll track that for the rest of the season. As you’ll see in this update, there is a lot of shuffling going on.
With that in mind, here’s the current situation:
We now have two division winners set. Not surprisingly, those are Phoenix Rising and the Tampa Bay Rowdies. Tampa did that despite losing 0-2 to the Pittsburgh Riverhounds (they beat the Charleston Battery 4-2 earlier in the week). Phoenix got there winning 1-0 over the Oakland Roots.
Home Field Advantage
The next best performance was by Louisville City, who have locked up home field in the first round. To do that they survived a huge scare, beating Sporting Kansas City II 4-3 in a shootout that saw four goals in the final 12 minutes, and also benefiting from losses by FC Tulsa and Memphis 901.
On the back of that win over Tampa, Pittsburgh moved up a spot and into home field position. Charlotte Independence followed suit, moving from 4th to 3rd with a 2-1 win over New York Red Bulls II.
In the West, San Antonio did the same as Pittsburgh in a goalfest of a week. They tied El Paso 3-3 and beat Memphis 901 4-2 tp jump into home field position.
The Miami FC dropped from home 2nd to 4th in the Atlantic Division, managing somehow to lose 3-2 to Loudoun United.
The Colorado Springs Switchbacks dropped a spot in the Mountain to 3rd, drawing 0-0 with Real Monarchs.
That loss to San Antonio didn’t hurt Memphis too badly as they beat SKC II 3-1 earlier in the week to jump the playoff line. They also have 2 games in hand on all the teams below them.
Austin Bold also saw their season potentially extend with a double-game week, beating the Tacoma Defiance 1-0 and drawing 1-1 with Oklahoma City Energy.
OKC did themselves no favors with that draw, seeing playoff position slip from their grasp at least temporarily.
Likewise, New Mexico United dropped below the line, wasting a double-game week with draws, 2-2 with Hartford Athletic and 1-1 with the Rio Grande Valley Toros.
The ranks of those reduced to spoiler status doubled this week. SKC II ‘s midweek loss to Memphis saw their hopes evaporate, although they nearly pulled off an early spoiler win on Saturday to remind everyone just how dangerous teams in this position can be. Hartford’s draw with New Mexico followed by a tough 4-3 loss to Charleston got them knocked out, and lastly the Las Vegas Lights went dark with a 0-1 loss to the LA Galaxy II.
Atlantic Division outlook
That Charleston win left them as the only Atlantic Division team below the line still alive, if barely. Anything less than a win this weekend against Charlotte (and that potentially by 5 goals if Miami earns any points) sees them out too. Aside from that, the three teams behind Tampa could move several times more before season’s end as they are separated by just 3 points, and Charlotte and Miami both have a game in hand over Pittsburgh.
Central Division outlook
The big chase is still for the division title, with Louisville looking precarious at the top with a 2-point lead over the Legion, who can join them in having home field locked up with just 2 points. FC Tulsa and Memphis, just 1 point apart, are now even on games played, but have to cram 5 more games in this month. That includes a head-to-head matchup; Memphis has the tiebreak advantage though, at 2-1-0 and with a 3-goal positive differential. Memphis also has 2 games to play against Lou City, which will likely determine almost everything in the division. Atlanta United 2 and Indy Eleven are both just 2 points from elimination. That leaves OKC, who are 2 points adrift of the playoffs, but have played 2 more games than Tulsa and Memphis.
Mountain Division outlook
El Paso Locomotive remains 4 points shy of winning the division. Everything else is still up for grabs. New Mexico and RGV are far from out of it, as the spread between 4th and 6th is just 2 points. Austin is in the driver’s seat, but its game in hand could well be burned against the Three Sparks Wednesday night. San Antonio and Colorado Springs can still be overtaken, but will likely duke it out for 2nd and 3rd place.
Pacific Division outlook
Top and bottom of the division couldn’t be clearer, but the 6 spots in between are a mess. San Diego Loyal have more than recovered from a very poor start to the season, but remain 7 points short of securing home field advantage. Only 5 points divide the remaining 5 teams. Of the 5, LA looks to be in the best form, having won 4 of its last 5. Home field would be a stretch though at this stage. Of the the three teams below the line, Oakland appears to be in the best position to steal a playoff spot from LA or Orange County, having recently beat San Diego and narrowly lost to Phoenix.
That’s where we stand. And don’t forget to show tomorrow night for the Austin Bold game to help the Legion lock in its first ever home playoff game.