Week 27 Preview: what you need to know

2 laps to go

Before digging into the USL Championship action, let’s start off over in Blighty, where Birmingham City have been struggling badly. They are on a 5-game scoreless streak and lost 4 of those games. They also lost the last game before that streak, whipped 4-1 by Fulham. As a result they have dropped all the way to 19th in the EFL Championship table. They get two chances to break the fall this week: today at 7th place Huddersfield (1:45pm) and Saturday when Swansea City visit St. Andrews. The Swans are in 17th, so this could be a good chance to reboot. Kickoff is at 9:00am. PPV will be the only viewing option.

Over on this side of the Atlantic, the action starts tonight with 8 games on the slate. That’s a fair few but not surprising: there are 3 teams with 4 games to play in the final 2 weeks, and a whopping 17 teams with 3 games left. The good news is that the Legion is not one of them so, will enter the playoffs without a bruising final schedule. Of the 3 with 4 games left, only FC Tulsa is alive for the playoffs. 14 teams with 3 games left are still in the hunt, so it’s going to be an exciting end to October.

The only game in the Central tonight involves the aforementioned Tulsa, who host Atlanta United 2 (7:00pm). A win puts Tulsa 1 point shy of securing a playoff spot. Twonited, for their part, will be the first team in the league to finish their season, as they are already eliminated and this is their last regular season game.

Elsewhere, the final two playoff places in the Pacific Division could be locked down tonight. Orange County has two paths to that: either they take at least 1 point from the tough match against San Diego Loyal (9:00pm) or Oakland Roots take at least 1 point from their game at Tacoma Defiance (9:00pm). LA Galaxy II has the slightly more tricky path: They cross the entire country to visit the eliminated Charleston Battery (6:00pm). They need to win and have Tacoma and Oakland draw.

Two of the three spots still open in the Mountain Division could also be won this evening. San Antonio visits New Mexico United (8:00pm). A win guarantees it for the Texans, but a draw would also be enough if Austin Bold do not win tonight in their trip to division champion El Paso Locomotive (8:00pm). The Colorado Springs Switchbacks are idle tonight, so get to watch both those games with interest; if either Austin or New Mexico fail to win, their ticket is punched. If not, they get their chance Friday night at Real Monarchs (8:00pm).

The weekend, then: two games in the Central Division of importance. First, Tulsa get the chance to take the last playoff spot at Indy Eleven (6:00pm). First, though, they will need at least a point against Twonited tonight, as they need a total of 4 points to book their postseason reservations. Next is the game all Legion fans will be following: Louisville City v. Memphis 901 (6:30pm). Memphis beat Lou City 2-1 just a week ago and are likely looking to stay ahead of Tulsa for the 3rd place in the division. Those two play next Wednesday, though, so this game is not critical for them. Still, if Lou City fail to take full points, that leaves the gate wide open for the Legion to win the division on Sunday. Lou City have been struggling lately, having own just 2 of their last 6, and one of those wins was a late come-from-behind 4-3 win over Sporting Kansas City II. This one should be a great match.

If all else has gone right, by around 7:45pm Saturday only one playoff position will be open, in the Mountain Division, and that will be fought over by New Mexico, Austin and Rio Grande Valley. All three teams play at 7:30pm, with RGV hosting New Mexico and Austin visiting San Antonio. As of right now, all 3 have 3 games remaining and are separated by just 2 points, so it’s not likely anything will be resolved. Still, the stakes are high and these games could be well worth checking out.

And that leaves us with Sunday’s Legion game. SKC II visit the Bank at 4:00pm. The Three Sparks will know what they need to do. If Lou City fails to win on Saturday, the division title comes to the Magic City with a win. If Lou City wins, then it comes down to the final game of the season. Here’s how the various scenarios play out:

The results on the outside represent the possible finishes in this weekend’s games; inside the grid is what the Legion will need to do in each scenario. The good news is that there are only two circumstances in which a win is needed.

That leaves just one Central Division team: OKC Energy, who may already be eliminated, have a difficult game even if they aren’t. They visit El Paso Locomotive (Sunday 7:00pm) in the final game of the week. But by then you may be in too much of a celebratory mood to care.

Let’s all show up Sunday! Tickets are just $5 (with promo code WIN) and can be purchased here. The day’s event will be Yacht Rock-themed. Hmm. No Hall & Oates please.

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