Decision Day looms
With one week left in the regular season, the playoffs are still far from settled. Which is good news for the USL Championship, of course, especially given how the final week’s schedule is set. Here’s the current situation:
With the Legion and Louisville City both winning this week, the Central Division title remains the only one yet to be decided.
Home Field Advantage
No one got the results they needed to secure home field, so the Central Division also remains the only one with both spots decided.
Movers Up and Down
Only one team got a bump this week. Orange County beat the San Diego Loyal 1-0 on Wednesday followed up with a 2-1 win over the Las Vegas Lights 2-1. San Diego Loyal then lost 3-4 to the Oakland Roots, and they flipped positions with Orange County in the standings.
Movers In and Out
There were no changes to the teams holding playoff spots this week.
OKC Energy’s thin hopes ended with a 0-4 thumping by El Paso Locomotive, and the final Central Division and Eastern Conference playoff spot was decided when Indy Eleven managed only a 1-1 draw with FC Tulsa and were eliminated. That game also saw Tulsa take that spot, after having won 4-0 over Atlanta United 2 earlier in the week.
In the West, the Colorado Springs Switchbacks secured their postseason place with a 1-1 draw at Real Monarchs. Orange County also booked their reservation with their two wins. LA Galaxy II had two chances to take the final Pacific Division spot, but blew both of them, losing 1-3 at the Charleston Battery and 2-3 at Tacoma Defiance.
Sacramento Republic were the only Western team eliminated, drawing 1-1 with Phoenix Rising.
Atlantic Division outlook
The league threw a wrench into the Atlantic Division standings when they announced that the game between The Miami FC and Pittsburgh Riverhounds would be replayed from the 67th minute and the score updated to 1-0 in favor of Pittsburgh, to reverse the baffling no goal decision on October 16th. The official standings currently Charlotte Independence and Pittsburgh on 55 points and Miami on 52, but that includes 1 point for Pittsburgh and Miami from that game that technically isn’t over yet.
That doesn’t change too much for Charlotte, who have two games remaining, versus Loudoun United and at Austin Bold. They the tiebreak advantage over Pittsburgh but Miami has it over them, so they need to win both games to secure home field, which they currently hold. Pittsburgh plays Hartford Athletic and Miami visits Charleston to end their seasons, but only after Pittsburgh has to go back down to Miami to finish that game on Wednesday. If they hold on to the win, they improve to 57 points and would leapfrog Charlotte for 2nd place if the latter fails to win over Loudoun. Conversely, if Miami overcomes the 1-goal deficit and wins that replayed game, they would leapfrog Pittsburgh for 3rd place, as the two would be tied on 54 points and Miami holds the tiebreaker over Pittsburgh as well. Which means they also have a chance to jump up to 2nd place.
Central Division outlook
As if you didn’t already know, the title will be decided at 6:30pm on Wednesday as Louisville City comes to the Magic City. The Legion wins or draws, they take the division. Lou City needs to win to take the honors.
A similar battle will occur for 3rd place. Memphis 901 and Tulsa are tied on 44 points, with two games remaining. Memphis holds the edge on tiebreakers. Their big game is on Wednesday, as Tulsa visits Memphis. Memphis secures 3rd with the win in that game. Any other result makes the season finales a big deal. Memphis closes its season out against Indy and Tulsa against its derby rival OKC Energy.
Mountain Division outlook
The division has a two-way race for 2nd place and a three way race for 4th place.
San Antonio and Colorado are tied on 49 points with 1 game remaining. San Antonio holds the tiebreak advantage. That final game is between the two teams in Texas, so San Antonio takes it with just a draw. Colorado, obviously, needs the win.
The three vying for 4th place are New Mexico United, Austin and Rio Grande Valley. New Mexico is on 43 points, the other two on 41. RGV have 2 games remaining, though, so anything is possible. New Mexico plays Real Monarchs, Austin plays Charlotte, and RGV plays at Real Monarchs and then hosts El Paso. RGV would take it with 2 wins regardless of results by the other two teams.
New Mexico has the tiebreaker over Austin, but RGV has the tiebreaker over New Mexico, which would come into effect if they are tied on 44 points with either team. Austin holds the tiebreaker over RGV, and a final tie on points is possible there too. A 3-way tie is also possible, and in that case the finish would be RGV, New Mexico, Austin[efn_note]Assuming my math is right, of course.[/efn_note].
Pacific Division outlook
The Pacific is in an almost identical position. Orange County leads San Diego by 2 points for 2nd place. OC visits LA to end the season, San Diego visits Sacramento. San Diego theoretically has the easier task, as Sacramento are eliminated and LA are barely holding on to 4th place. A tiebreak situation arises here too if San Diego wins and OC draws, and OC has the edge.
LA is ahead of Oakland and Tacoma by just 1 point, so they need to win that game to see their season extended. They fail to do so, ands that opens the door for the other two to snatch 4th place from their grasp. Oakland hosts Sporting Kansas City II, and Tacoma has the rather more daunting task of visiting Phoenix Rising.
Ties on points are of course possible here too. LA holds the tiebreaker over Oakland, Oakland holds the tiebreaker over Tacoma, and Tacoma holds the tiebreaker over LA. A three-way tie would end Oakland, Tacoma, LA[efn_note]Ditto.[/efn_note].