Week 28 Preview: what you need to know
The Final Countdown
Well, this final week already started last night, but with Hartford Athletic beating the Charleston Battery 2-0 in a titanic battle for 5th place in the Atlantic Division, I don’t think you would have missed anything important. Except that with one game still to play, Charleston could still take 5th. Oh, the excitement.
There are 3⅓ games being played tonight; the remaining 15 games are all on Saturday. There are implications galore in the vast majority of those games, so we refer you to this week’s playoff update, which goes into the permutations for all the open races that will be decided this week. Since we’ve already done that, we’ll make this preview relatively short. Here are the important games going on:
Two games that will have some impact on who the Legion plays in the quarterfinals next week: at a ridiculously early 4:30pm, Charlotte Independence take on Loudoun United, and at 7:00pm The Miami FC and Pittsburgh Riverhounds finish their controversial game from a couple of weeks ago. The Legion will play any of those teams, except Loudoun of course.
Also of interest will be Memphis 901 v. FC Tulsa (7:00pm) as they take their battle for 3rd place in the Central head-to-head, with each having one more game to play on Saturday.
The last midweek game will be Real Monarchs v. Rio Grande Valley Toros (8:00pm). RGV will jump from 6th to 4th with a win, giving them the edge in the messy race for the final Mountain Division playoff spot.
All eyes will be on The Game, naturally, as the Legion look to take the Central Division title and also home field advantage in a potential semifinal game. All they need to do for both is to draw, but Louisville City will have much to say about that. The Purple Dinosaurs broke out of their funk last week with a 3-1 over Memphis on the back of a Cameron Lancaster hat trick (which included one golazo and a PK that was almost stopped). It’s going to be yuuuge. Kickoff is 6:30pm and I won’t bother with TV details, because YOU HAVE ALL BOUGHT YOUR TICKETS, RIGHT?
The Memphis-Tulsa matter will be decided around the same time – Memphis takes on Indy Eleven at 6:00pm and Tulsa closes out this year’s Black Gold Derby against OKC Energy at 7:00pm. The derby is currently1-1-1 with Tulsa having a +1 goal differential.
Plenty of other big matchups, but most are at the same time as the Legion game, or heavily overlap it. However, there are two late games out west that could be worth tuning in. LA Galaxy II plays Orange County, with Los Dos trying to keep hold of the final Pacific Division playoff spot that they have already twice failed to secure. Tacoma Defiance will be trying to grab that spot from them, albeit with the difficult job of doing so at Phoenix Rising. Both games are at 9:30pm.
The Old Country
And let’s not forget our friends at Birmingham City. They have two games this week as well. The play at Middlesbrough (Saturday, 9:00am) and host Bristol City on Tuesday (2:45pm). Middlesbrough are in 6th place, but Bristol City are just one spot above the Blues in 17th. Lee Bowyer’s men finally ended their goalless streak last weekend, and this could be a good opportunity to get back into contention for the promotion playoffs. Neither game is on ESPN+, so PPV is the only viewing option.