Playoffs Conference Semifinals Preview: what you need to know
It's win or go home
The Legion are done for the year, but there are still 7 games yet to be played in the USL Championship. This week we have the conference semifinals, and with that the top seeds in both conferences enter the fray. Here’s the rundown.
San Antonio (#1) v. Oakland Roots (#7), Friday 7:30pm
After knocking off San Diego Loyal 3-0 in grand style late Sunday, the Oakland Roots, who are the lowest seed in the entire playoff field, get rewarded with a very short week and a trip to overall top seed San Antonio. They achieved one impressive upset already, so no one is going to sleep on the Roots, not even the powerful team from the Alamo. This one will be a quite a battle, but expect San Antonio to win.
Louisville City (#1) v. Pittsburgh Riverhounds (#5), Saturday 6:30pm
The Riverhounds also get a slightly shortened week, not quite as bad as the Roots, although they did of course have to go 120 minutes (almost 130 in reality) and kicks from the mark (that’s the official name for a penalty shootout, in case you didn’t know), which Oakland did not. So they’ll be somewhat tired ahead of the travel to Kentucky. No assist from the ref this time, and Lou City cruises to victory.
Colorado Springs Switchbacks (#3) v. Sacramento Republic (#4), Saturday 7:00pm
The Switchbacks returned to form with a solid 3-0 win over Rio Grande Valley last weekend, but SacRep also looked strong in their 2-0 win over New Mexico United. This is going to be a tight affair and could well go to extra time at least. Sacramento had the tougher draw last week, and despite the fact that they are travelling to altitude, I anticipate the visitors will get the best of this one.
Memphis 901 (#2) v. Tampa Bay Rowdies (#3), Saturday 7:30pm
This one will be the game of the week. Both teams won 3-1 last week (over Detroit City and The Miami FC respectively). They have both been in great form for a while and were separated by just 1 point in the final regular season standings. And they both have attacking firepower. It’s Phillip Goodrum v. Leo Fernandes. The last meeting at AutoZone Park back in April saw Goodrum score in just 22 seconds. That won’t happen again. Fernandes has the better supporting cast, I think, and this one will also go to the visiting side.
Back in the Old Country
Birmingham City is in the middle of a tough stretch of games. Last weekend they lost a close one 1-2 at then second-place Blackburn Rovers. They now have to play QPR tomorrow (Friday 2:00pm, ESPN+). QPR just took second place over Blackburn on goal difference. The loss dropped the Blues to 15th, but only on the second tiebreaker (goals scored) behind Sunderland. After that they play Millwall next Wednesday (2:45pm, no ESPN+ stream), who sit in 6th.