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Race to the Championship Playoffs – Oct. 4-6

By USLChampionship.com Staff, 10/03/19, 5:00PM EDT

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All eyes on Birmingham in the East, while the West could see multiple teams clinch their places


Birmingham Legion FC and the Charleston Battery square off on Saturday night with a playoff place in the balance at BBVA Field. | Photo courtesy Jaylynn Nash / Charleston Battery

The biggest game of the season arrives on Saturday night for Birmingham Legion FC and the Charleston Battery with a playoff place hanging in the balance for both, but out west there’s the chance for playoff places and home contests in the Western Conference Quarterfinals to be claimed across the night’s action.

WESTERN CONFERENCE

1.Phoenix Rising FC
1. Phoenix Rising FC
Record: 22-3-6, 72pts
Playoff Odds Clinched
Projected Final Position: 1st (Clinched)
Max Points Available: 81pts
Magic Number: N/A
Upcoming: @POR (10/5)
As much as opponents throughout the Western Conference might have been rooting against Phoenix Rising FC throughout this season, this Saturday night everyone above the playoff line is going to be on its side. That’s because if Phoenix takes victory against the Portland Timbers 2, one of the big dominoes falls to allow other clubs to clinch their place in the playoffs.
2. Fresno FC
2. Fresno FC
Record: 16-7-8, 56pts
Playoff Odds Clinched
Projected Final Position: 2nd (78 percent)
Max Points Available: 65pts
Magic Number: N/A
Upcoming: vs. TAC (10/5)
The first two-game losing streak of the Foxes’ season opened the door slightly for Reno 1868 FC to take second place, but Fresno can still clinch at least one home game in the playoffs with victory on Saturday night against Tacoma Defiance as it returns to play in front of its home fans at Chukchansi Park.
3. Reno 1868 FC
3. Reno 1868 FC
Record: 16-10-5, 53pts
Playoff Odds >Clinched
Projected Final Position: 3rd (73 percent)
Max Points Available: 62pts
Magic Number: N/A
Upcoming: vs. ELP (10/5)
A rested 1868 FC will try to put a pin in the growing optimism at El Paso Locomotive FC of a potential top-four finish when it plays host at Greater Nevada Field. Should Reno take victory and Orange County fail to take victory against OKC Energy FC, Reno would clinch a home game in the Western Conference Quarterfinals and keep the pressure on Fresno for second place in the standings.
4. Real Monarchs SLC
4. Real Monarchs SLC
Record: 13-10-7, 46pts
Playoff Odds 98 percent
Projected Final Position: 4th (33 percent)
Max Points Available: 58pts
Magic Number: 5pts
Upcoming: vs. OC (10/9)
The tragic death on Wednesday night of Austin Bold FC player Promise Isaac saw the contest between the Monarchs and Bold FC scheduled for Saturday night postponed to October 16, with Real set to return to action on October 9 against Orange County SC at Zions Bank Stadium.
5. Austin Bold FC
5. Austin Bold FC
Record: 13-11-7, 43pts
Playoff Odds 95 percent
Projected Final Position: 5th (16 percent)
Max Points Available: 55pts
Magic Number: 5pts
Upcoming: @ELP (10/9)
Bold FC will return to Austin with heavy hearts after the tragic death on Wednesday night of Promise Isaac, with its game against Real Monarchs SLC postponed to October 16. The side will return to action on October 10 when it visits El Paso Locomotive FC.
6. Sacramento Republic FC
6. Sacramento Republic FC
Record: 13-12-6, 45pts
Playoff Odds 94 percent
Projected Final Position: 6th (16 percent)
Max Points Available: 54pts
Magic Number: 6pts
Upcoming: @TUL (10/5)
Sacramento’s late equalizer on Wednesday night against the LA Galaxy II kept its chances of clinching a playoff place this weekend in play. Should Republic FC take victory on the road against Tulsa Roughnecks FC, moving it to 48 points and 14 wins for the regular season, and should both San Antonio FC and the Portland Timbers 2 fail to take victory in their matchups against Las Vegas Lights FC and Phoenix Rising FC, Sacramento would hold the total wins tiebreaker over both clubs and earn a place in the postseason for a sixth consecutive season.
7. Orange County SC
7. Orange County SC
Record: 12-9-9, 42pts
Playoff Odds 95 percent
Projected Final Position: 4th (19 percent)
Max Points Available: 57pts
Magic Number: 6pts
Upcoming: vs. OKC (10/5)
Orange County returns home with a chance to clinch its fourth trip to the playoffs in the past five seasons if it takes victory against OKC Energy FC on Saturday night at Championship Soccer Stadium. A home victory against an Energy FC side that will be fighting for its playoff life can’t be taken lightly, but if OCSC takes all three points to move to 48 points and 13 wins and sees San Antonio FC lose to Las Vegas Lights FC and the Portland Timbers 2 fail to take victory against Phoenix Rising FC later on Saturday night, Orange County will be playoff bound.
8. El Paso Locomotive FC
8. El Paso Locomotive FC
Record: 12-9-9, 45pts
Playoff Odds 92 percent
Projected Final Position: 5th (17 percent)
Max Points Available: 57pts
Magic Number: 6pts
Upcoming: @RNO (10/5)
A second consecutive game with a stoppage-time winner on Wednesday night against Fresno FC moved Locomotive FC within range of claiming a playoff place this weekend. If Locomotive FC takes victory on the road against Reno 1868 FC while San Antonio FC loses to Las Vegas Lights FC and the Portland Timbers 2 fail to take victory against Phoenix Rising FC, Head Coach Mark Lowry’s side will earn its place in the postseason.
9. LA Galaxy II
9. LA Galaxy II
Record: 11-9-11, 44pts
Playoff Odds 77 percent
Projected Final Position: 10th (19 percent)
Max Points Available: 53pts
Magic Number: 7pts
Upcoming: @SAC (10/2), @COS (10/5)
Thanks to Sacramento Republic FC’s late equalizer on Wednesday night, Los Dos can’t quite clinch a playoff place this weekend with a victory on the road against Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC, as its 11 wins are not currently enough to put it out of reach of San Antonio FC (11 wins, three games remaining) and the Portland Timbers 2 (10 wins, 3 games remaining). If LA does earn victory against the Switchbacks, however, it could move the side to the edge of qualification to the postseason.
10. San Antonio FC
10. San Antonio FC
Record: 11-12-8, 38pts
Playoff Odds 57 percent
Projected Final Position: 11th (29 percent)
Max Points Available: 50pts
Magic Number: 10pts
Upcoming: @LV (10/5)
San Antonio was not helped at all by Wednesday night’s results, with the only possible way it could have gone worse for the side being if the LA Galaxy II had held on for victory in Sacramento. That means the pressure is even higher to take victory on the road against Las Vegas Lights FC on Saturday, with the possibility that SAFC may have to win out to earn a postseason berth.

11. New Mexico United
11. New Mexico United
Record: 10-9-11, 41pts
Playoff Odds 81 percent
Projected Final Position: 7th (14 percent)
Max Points Available: 53pts
Magic Number: 10pts
Upcoming: vs. RGV (10/5)
New Mexico was relatively unaffected by Wednesday’s results, although for the sake of seeding it would have preferred that El Paso hadn’t grabbed a late winner against Fresno. Earning a place in the playoffs is still in the club’s hands, and if it takes victory against Rio Grande Valley FC on Saturday night and both San Antonio and Portland falter – as others are hoping for as well – the road would become that much easier.
12. Portland Timbers 2
12. Portland Timbers 2
Record: 10-12-8, 38pts
Playoff Odds 8 percent
Projected Final Position: 12th (40 percent)
Max Points Available: 50pts
Magic Number: 13pts
Upcoming: vs. PHX (10/5)
It’s do-or-die time for T2 against the Western Conference leader on Saturday night, especially with the club’s win total sitting below that of everyone except New Mexico that’s above it in the standings. Victory would set up a massive contest against San Antonio FC next Friday night, but T2 is going to have a lot of teams hoping for a road victory at Providence Park on Saturday.
13. Las Vegas Lights FC
13. Las Vegas Lights FC
Record: 10-13-8, 38pts
Playoff Odds 2 percent
Projected Final Position: 14th (35 percent)
Max Points Available: 47pts
Magic Number: 12pts
Upcoming: vs. SA (10/5)
Locomotive FC’s victory and the draw between Sacramento and LA pulled the playoff positions even further away from Lights FC, but while it needs victory to keep its postseason chances alive there are going to be plenty of teams hoping it can upend San Antonio FC at Cashman Field as well to help them clinch a playoff spot.
14. OKC Energy FC
14. OKC Energy FC
Record: 9-11-11, 38pts
Playoff Odds <1 percent
Projected Final Position: 14th (34 percent)
Max Points Available: 47pts
Magic Number: 13pts
Upcoming: @OC (10/5)
OKC Energy FC goes into Orange County needing victory to keep its slim playoff chances alive. It will also know the hosts have the chance to clinch with a win, which could make for an entertaining contest.
15. Rio Grande Valley FC
15. Rio Grande Valley FC
Record:9-15-7, 34pts
Playoff Odds <1 percent
Projected Final Position: 15th (65 percent)
Max Points Available: 43pts
Magic Number: 17pts
Upcoming: @NM (10/5)
The Toros are on the brink of elimination, which would arrive if it falls on the road against New Mexico United on Saturday night. If RGVFC can take a third consecutive victory, while seeing San Antonio and Portland suffer defeats in their matchups, hope will remain alive for another week.

Eliminated: Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC, Tacoma Defiance, Tulsa Roughnecks FC

EASTERN CONFERENCE

1. Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC
1. Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC
Record:17-4-10, 61pts
Playoff Odds Clinched
Projected Final Position: 1st (67 percent)
Max Points Available: 70pts
Magic Number: N/A
Upcoming: vs. ATL (10/5)
Pittsburgh’s comeback victory against Loudoun United FC on Tuesday night may have seen its shutout streak end at 698 minutes, but it added to the chances the Hounds will top the Eastern Conference standings at the end of the regular season. The side could clinch a home game in the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals of the postseason this Saturday, too, if it takes victory at home against ATL UTD 2. Should either the Tampa Bay Rowdies (at Loudoun) or New York Red Bulls II (at North Carolina) lose or Indy Eleven (vs. Memphis) fail to take victory, Pittsburgh’s win would guarantee it a top-four finish.
2. Nashville SC
2. Nashville SC
Record:17-7-7, 58pts
Playoff Odds Clinched
Projected Final Position: 2nd (36 percent)
Max Points Available: 67pts
Magic Number: N/A
Upcoming: vs. LOU (10/8)
Nashville is going to need Pittsburgh to slip up before the end of the season if it’s going to have a chance at the No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference, but this weekend it will take in the rest of the conference action and hope to remain in second place ahead of its big game next Wednesday night at home to Louisville City FC.
3. New York Red Bulls II
3. New York Red Bulls II
Record:17-8-6, 57pts
Playoff Odds Clinched
Projected Final Position: 4th (31 percent)
Max Points Available: 66pts
Magic Number: N/A
Upcoming: @NC (10/5)
New York will jump into second place if it can replicate its road victory against North Carolina a season ago, but could slip into fifth place by the end of the weekend if it can’t secure all three points on the road with the Tampa Bay Rowdies and Indy Eleven still in close. The margins are that slim as the side starts a three-game road trip to wrap up the regular season.
4. Tampa Bay Rowdies
4. Tampa Bay Rowdies
Record:16-6-9, 57pts
Playoff Odds Clinched
Projected Final Position: 3rd (30 percent)
Max Points Available: 66pts
Magic Number: N/A
Upcoming: @LDN (10/4)
Tampa Bay is going to be up against it to overtake Riverhounds SC with three games remaining in the regular season, but it can put pressure on the rest of its rivals for a top-four position if it takes victory in Friday night’s lone game when it visits Loudoun United FC.
5. Indy Eleven
5. Indy Eleven
Record:17-9-5, 56pts
Playoff Odds Clinched
Projected Final Position: 5th (41 percent)
Max Points Available: 65pts
Magic Number: N/A
Upcoming: vs. MEM (10/5)
The Eleven wrapped up a road trip that saw its chances of finishing top of the East diminish rapidly with a fourth consecutive defeat at the hands of Ottawa Fury FC. Getting back on home turf this Saturday night should be a boost, but Memphis 901 FC’s recent form means that there are no guarantees of three points, which would make the likelihood that Indy would have to head on the road in the playoffs even greater.
6. Louisville City FC
6. Louisville City FC
Record:14-7-9, 51pts
Playoff Odds Clinched
Projected Final Position: 6th (60 percent)
Max Points Available: 63pts
Magic Number:N/A
Upcoming: @STL (10/5)
Louisville is in strong position to avoid the play-in round going into this weekend’s action but faces a tough pair of games starting with its visit to Kings’ Cup rival Saint Louis FC on Saturday night. A win on the road combined with dropped points by North Carolina FC and Ottawa Fury FC would solidify LouCity’s odds of a sixth-place finish.
7. North Carolina FC
7. North Carolina FC
Record:14-9-8, 50pts
Playoff Odds >99 percent
Projected Final Position: 7th (51 percent)
Max Points Available: 59pts
Magic Number: 1pts
Upcoming: vs. NY (10/5)
North Carolina is going to be in the postseason upon the conclusion of the game between Birmingham Legion FC and the Charleston Battery, and while the numbers say the odds are against it there’s still a chance to get out of the play-in round with three games to go. With the Red Bulls II coming to town on Saturday, NCFC could put some extra pressure on Louisville’s run-in if it can take all three points.
8. Ottawa Fury FC
8. Ottawa Fury FC
Record:13-9-9, 45pts
Playoff Odds >99 percent
Projected Final Position: 8th (59 percent)
Max Points Available: 57pts
Magic Number: 4pts
Upcoming: @SPR (10/8)
Ottawa took care of its business on Wednesday night against Indy Eleven, and will now wait to see if it gets the Birmingham Legion FC victory it needs to clinch a playoff place on Saturday night. While a postseason berth is virtually assured, though, the win against Indy also put Ottawa in a strong position to host a play-in game when the playoffs arrive, with the side an 87-percent chance to finish in either seventh or eighth place.
9. Saint Louis FC
9. Saint Louis FC
Record:11-10-9, 42pts
Playoff Odds 87 percent
Projected Final Position: 9th (46 percent)
Max Points Available: 54pts
Magic Number: 10pts
Upcoming: vs. LOU (10/5)
Ottawa Fury FC’s victory on Wednesday against Indy meant that should Saint Louis earn a playoff place, it’s likely going to have to go on the road to open the postseason. Getting a home win against Louisville City FC would be a big plus and have the potential to cut the club’s magic number to four if there’s a decisive result in the biggest game in the Eastern Conference this weekend between Birmingham and Charleston.
10. Birmingham Legion FC
10. Birmingham Legion FC
Record:11-12-6, 39pts
Playoff Odds 42 percent
Projected Final Position: 11th (52 percent)
Max Points Available: 51pts
Magic Number: 13pts
Upcoming: vs. CHS (10/5)
Birmingham has had other big games in its inaugural season, but nothing measures up to its meeting with the Charleston Battery on Saturday night. A win would put Legion FC in a strong position to claim a playoff berth in its inaugural season, but a draw – or even worse, a defeat – would give the Battery an edge with Charleston holding what on paper looks like an easier run-in over the remaining schedule.

11. Charleston Battery
11. Charleston Battery
Record:9-9-12, 38pts
Playoff Odds 69 percent
Projected Final Position: 10th (38 percent)
Max Points Available: 51pts
Magic Number: 13pts
Upcoming: @BHM (10/5)
The Battery are the only club to have been part of the USL Championship Playoffs in every season, but that streak is on the line this Saturday night as it visits Birmingham Legion FC. If Charleston takes a win, it will hold a big advantage over its Alabama rival for the final playoff berth, and a draw wouldn’t be a bad result given Charleston’s remaining schedule that sees it close with three home games. A loss, though, would mean an uphill climb to try and reel Legion FC back in over the final two weeks of the regular season.
12. Memphis 901 FC
12. Memphis 901 FC
Record:9-14-7, 34pts
Playoff Odds <1 percent
Projected Final Position: 12th (68 percent)
Max Points Available: 46pts
Magic Number: 18pts
Upcoming: @IND (10/5)
Memphis is going to be the favorite side of every team in the top four of the Eastern Conference this weekend. If 901 FC can continue Indy Eleven’s recent downturn and take away points from Lucas Oil Stadium, the hosting scenarios for the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals could come into sharp focus.
13. Atlanta United 2
13. Atlanta United 2
Record:8-16-7, 31pts
Playoff Odds <1 percent
Projected Final Position: 14th (31 percent)
Max Points Available: 40pts
Magic Number: 24pts
Upcoming: @STL (9/28)
Undefeated in five games, Atlanta is having a good end to its season, , and it’s going to have plenty of teams further up the standings hoping it can take points off the Eastern Conference leader on the road this Saturday night.
14. Bethlehem Steel FC
14. Bethlehem Steel FC
Record:8-16-6, 30pts
Playoff Odds <1 percent
Projected Final Position: 13th (38 percent)
Max Points Available: 42pts
Magic Number: 22pts
Upcoming: vs. CLT (10/5)
Bethlehem can hold on for one more week of mathematical survival if it takes victory against the Independence on Sunday evening, but after Saturday’s thumping against Memphis it feels like the season is already over for Steel FC.
16. Loudoun United FC
16. Loudoun United FC
Record:7-17-6, 27pts
Playoff Odds <1 percent
Projected Final Position: 16th (33 percent)
Max Points Available: 39pts
Magic Number: 25pts
Upcoming: vs. TBR (10/4)
Loudoun ended Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC’s shutout streak on Tuesday night, but after falling to the Hounds it will be mathematically eliminated this weekend, potentially at the hands of a Tampa Bay Rowdies side that needs all three points on Friday night.

Eliminated: Charlotte Independence, Hartford Athletic, Swope Park Rangers

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