skip navigation

Race to the Championship Playoffs – Everything You Need to Know

By NICHOLAS MURRAY - nicholas.murray@uslsoccer.com, 09/17/20, 12:10PM EDT

Share

Five teams are into the playoffs, and more could land their spots in the next four days

Welcome to the Race to the Championship Playoffs Presented by Synchronicity, where things really got rolling on Wednesday night as four more teams reached the postseason, and San Antonio FC became the first team to clinch first place in its group. They’re likely to be joined by more teams this weekend – starting potentially with Reno 1868 FC on Thursday night – with the postseason now coming into view for numerous clubs.

Here’s an up-to-date look at where everyone stands after this weekend’s action, including Magic Numbers and each club’s potential to finish in one of the top two positions in their group. And to start us off, three contests that could prove absolutely crucial for both clubs involved over the next two nights.

 

Playoff Games to Watch

Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC vs New Mexico United

Saturday, 5:30 p.m. ET
Venue: Weidner Field
Group C

What to Know - New Mexico is officially in the playoffs for a second consecutive season thanks to Real Monarchs SLC’s loss on Wednesday night, but that doesn’t take much pressure off United as it duels with El Paso Locomotive FC for first place in Group C. Saturday’s game should be intriguing, with up to 1,000 United fans set to be in attendance in Colorado Springs to not only celebrate the club’s postseason berth but to cheer on their side in its first “home” game of the playoffs. If it’s a success, and New Mexico finds a way to finish ahead of El Paso, could this be a trial run for a Western Conference Quarterfinal?

Saint Louis FC vs. Sporting Kansas City II

Saturday, 8 p.m. ET
Venue: West Community Stadium
Group E

What to Know - Saint Louis FC saw Louisville City FC hold up its side of the bargain on Wednesday night in defeating Indy Eleven, now Head Coach Steve Trittschuh’s side has to find the same winning ability against Sporting Kansas City II to add more intrigue to the final games of the season. With a win Saint Louis would move within a point of Indy Eleven for second place ahead of two meetings in the final three games of the regular season between the two sides. The time is now for STLFC, and as well for Sporting, which would be pushed to the brink of elimination with a loss.

Phoenix Rising FC vs. San Diego Loyal SC

Saturday, 10:30 p.m. ET
Venue: Casino Arizona Field
Group B

What to Know - After the LA Galaxy II’s win on Tuesday night – and with Orange County SC set to take on the same Las Vegas Lights FC team on Friday – the pressure is going to be on San Diego Loyal SC to potentially try and keep up with both sides as it visited first-place Phoenix Rising FC. It’s going to be a big ask of San Diego – Phoenix is not only perfect at home this season but is vying for the best record in the West as well – but if there was a time to show off that you’ve got what it takes to be a playoff side, Saturday would be the ideal spot for Head Coach Landon Donovan’s men.

WESTERN CONFERENCE

 

Group A

1. Reno 1868 FC
1. Reno 1868 FC
Record: 8-2-1, 25pts
Playoff Odds: >99 percent
First Place Odds: 79%
Second Place Odds: 21%
Max. Points Available: 40pts
Magic Number: 1pt
Up Next: vs. TAC (9/17)
Reno’s meeting with Tacoma got pushed back a day to Thursday night, and it can not only clinch a playoff berth but give itself a three-point cushion on Sacramento Republic FC with four games to go for each side. Don’t expect any complacency here with the chance to finish with the best record in the West still also on.
2. Sacramento Republic FC
2. Sacramento Republic FC
Record: 7-1-4, 25pts
Playoff Odds: >99 percent
First Place Odds: 21%
Second Place Odds: 79%
Max. Points Available: 37pts
Magic Number: 1pt
Up Next: vs. TAC (9/20)
Sacramento would also book its playoff place on Thursday night with any result other than a Tacoma victory against Reno 1868 FC. That said, if the visitors can win at Greater Nevada Field it would be a very good result for Sacramento’s big-picture goals.
3. Tacoma Defiance
3. Tacoma Defiance
Record: 2-7-1, 7pts
Playoff Odds: <1 percent
First Place Odds: <1%
Second Place Odds: <1%
Max. Points Available: 25pts
Magic Number: N/A
Up Next: at RNO (9/17), at SAC (9/20)
Unless Tacoma finds a way to sweep its two-game trip to Reno and Sacramento this week, it’s officially over for the Defiance for this season.
4. Portland Timbers 2
4. Portland Timbers 2
Record: 2-10-0, 6pts
Playoff Odds: Eliminated
First Place Odds: N/A
Second Place Odds:N/A
Max. Points Available: 18pts
Magic Number: N/A
Up Next: vs. RNO (9/20)
Portland got well wishes on Wednesday night after its victory against Real Monarchs SLC handed El Paso Locomotive FC and New Mexico United their postseason places. Can it find another win against Reno at home on Sunday night?
 

Group B

Phoenix Rising FC
1. Phoenix Rising FC
Record: 8-2-2, 26pts
Playoff Odds: 98 percent
First Place Odds: 98%
Second Place Odds: 2%
Max. Points Available: 38pts
Magic Number: 5pts
Up Next: vs. SD (9/19)
Phoenix is in position to clinch a playoff place this weekend with its Magic Number at 5 points. Should Orange County SC fail to take victory against Las Vegas Lights FC on Friday night and then Rising FC defeat San Diego Loyal SC on Saturday, Rising FC would be guaranteed to be clear of both OCSC and SD Loyal in the standings. San Diego looks like it might be a tougher proposition than when Phoenix took a 2-0 win back on August 15, though.
2. LA Galaxy II
2. LA Galaxy II
Record: 7-5-0, 21pts
Playoff Odds: 62 percent
First Place Odds: 2%
Second Place Odds: 60%
Max. Points Available: 33pts
Magic Number: 9pts
Up Next: vs. SD (9/23)
The Galaxy II’s comeback against Las Vegas Lights FC on Tuesday night put them firmly in the driver’s seat for second place. Now Los Dos will sit back and see what both San Diego Loyal SC and Orange County SC do this weekend while hoping to retain second place before their meeting with SD Loyal next Wednesday night.
3. San Diego Loyal SC
3. San Diego Loyal SC
Record: 5-4-4, 19pts
Playoff Odds: 7 percent
First Place Odds: <1%
Second Place Odds: 7%
Max. Points Available: 28pts
Magic Number: N/A
Up Next: at PHX (9/19)
San Diego’s chances of a postseason berth took another hit with the LA Galaxy II’s comeback victory on Tuesday night. Now they’ll be hoping for Orange County SC to clip up on Friday night against Las Vegas Lights FC, but taking victory against Phoenix Rising FC – while a tall order – is going to be essential to put the pressure back on Los Dos ahead of the two sides meeting next week.
4. Orange County SC
4. Orange County SC
Record: 5-4-3, 18pts
Playoff Odds: 31 percent
First Place Odds: <1%
Second Place Odds: 31%
Max. Points Available: 30pts
Magic Number: N/A
Up Next: vs. LV (9/18)
After the LA Galaxy II’s victory against Las Vegas Lights FC on Tuesday night, Orange County has to replicate it to keep pace with Los Dos with both sides having four games remaining. OCSC has the talent to pull through here, but it’s got to start producing to stay in with a shot.
5. Las Vegas Lights FC
5. Las Vegas Lights FC
Record: 2-6-3, 9pts
Playoff Odds: Eliminated
First Place Odds: N/A
Second Place Odds: N/A
Max. Points Available: 21pts
Magic Number: N/A
Up Next: at OC (9/18)
Las Vegas’ defeat against the LA Galaxy II officially eliminated it from playoff contention, with Los Dos’ seven wins putting it out of reach of Lights FC, which can only reach six wins if it wins out the rest of the way. The Galaxy II will certainly be hoping Las Vegas can produce a result as it visits Orange County on Friday night, though, as that would help keep LA in solid position after this weekend.
 

Group C

1. El Paso Locomotive FC
1. El Paso Locomotive FC
Record: 7-2-3, 24pts
Playoff Odds: Clinched
First Place Odds: 42%
Second Place Odds: 58%
Max. Points Available: 36pts
Magic Number: N/A
Up Next: vs. SLC (9/19)
Locomotive FC’s victory on Wednesday night and Real Monarchs SLC’s defeat put El Paso into the postseason for a second consecutive season. Now it’s got to defend the slim advantage it holds over New Mexico United for first place the rest of the way. Locomotive FC will know what New Mexico has accomplished on Saturday night before it takes to the field, but finding all three points before next weekend’s showdown between the sides would wrap up a great week for the side.
2. New Mexico United
2. New Mexico United
Record: 7-3-2, 23pts
Playoff Odds: Clinched
First Place Odds: 58%
Second Place Odds: 42%
Max. Points Available: 35pts
Magic Number: N/A
Up Next: vs. COS (9/19)
New Mexico is back in the playoffs after Real Monarchs SLC’s defeat to the Portland Timbers 2 on Wednesday night. Now the focus shifts squarely to claiming first place in the group, where it now trails El Paso Locomotive FC by a point with four games remaining. With the earlier kickoff between the two on Saturday night, finding a win against Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC would put pressure on El Paso to match them later in the night against the Monarchs.
3. Real Monarchs SLC
3. Real Monarchs SLC
Record: 3-8-1, 10pts
Playoff Odds: Eliminated
First Place Odds: N/A
Second Place Odds: N/A
Max. Points Available: 22pts
Magic Number: N/A
Up Next: at ELP (9/19)
The Monarchs are officially the first defending champion to not reach the USL Championship Playoffs the following season after their loss to the Portland Timbers 2 on Wednesday night. They’ll still have support in their corner from New Mexico United fans this weekend, though, as they look to take points off El Paso Locomotive FC at Southwest University Park.
4. Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC
4. Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC
Record: 1-6-5, 8pts
Playoff Odds: Eliminated
First Place Odds: N/A
Second Place Odds: N/A
Max. Points Available: 20pts
Magic Number: N/A
Up Next: at NM (9/19)
It’s also all over for the Switchbacks, who now get to be the guests in their own home on Saturday with New Mexico United taking over Weidner Field for the day and bringing up to 1,000 of their fans with them.
 

Group D

1. San Antonio FC
1. San Antonio FC
Record: 9-1-3, 27pts
Playoff Odds: Clinched
First Place Odds: Clinched
Second Place Odds: N/A
Max. Points Available: 39pts
Magic Number: N/A
Up Next: Up Next: vs. OKC (9/19)
The first job is done for San Antonio FC, now not only into the playoffs but the Group D winner as well. The next job is securing as high a seed as possible for the Western Conference Playoffs, where it is currently projected to sit No. 2 behind Reno 1868 FC if it wins out. Another three points against Energy FC on Saturday night are going to be vital to that end.
2. FC Tulsa
2. FC Tulsa
Record: 3-2-7, 16pts
Playoff Odds: 49 percent
First Place Odds: N/A
Second Place Odds: 49%
Max. Points Available: 28pts
Magic Number: 13pts
Up Next: at RGV (9/19)
Tulsa is back as a coin-flip to reach the playoffs after Austin Bold FC’s defeat in San Antonio on Wednesday night. Finding a way to get back into the win column is now the main point of order for Head Coach Michael Nsien’s side, which has drawn three in a row going into this weekend’s game against Rio Grande Valley FC.
3. Austin Bold FC
3. Austin Bold FC
Record: 3-3-6, 15pts
Playoff Odds: 51 percent
First Place Odds: N/A
Second Place Odds: 51%
Max. Points Available: 27pts
Magic Number: N/A
Up Next: vs. SKC (9/23)
It felt at times as though Austin was going to be able to do enough to come away with something from San Antonio on Wednesday night, but that ended up proving not to be the case. Now the pressure’s going to be on to get back into the win column at home to a dangerous Sporting Kansas City II side next week.
4. OKC Energy FC
4. OKC Energy FC
Record: 1-5-6, 9pts
Playoff Odds: <1 percent
First Place Odds: <1%
Second Place Odds: <1%
Max. Points Available: 21pts
Magic Number: N/A
Up Next: at SA (9/19)
Thanks to Tulsa and Austin’s extended run without victories, there’s still a pathway for OKC Energy FC to reach the postseason. If it doesn’t take victory against San Antonio on the road on Saturday, though, the path is going to narrow even further.
5. Rio Grande Valley FC
5. Rio Grande Valley FC
Record: 0-9-3, 3pts
Playoff Odds: Eliminated
First Place Odds: N/A
Second Place Odds: N/A
Max. Points Available: 15pts
Magic Number: N/A
Up Next: at TUL (9/19)
The Toros were officially eliminated from contention after Tulsa’s draw with OKC, but at least now they’ll have the chance to do more damage to Tulsa’s playoff chances at H-E-B Park on Saturday.

EASTERN CONFERENCE

 

Group E

1. Louisville City FC
1. Louisville City FC
Record: 8-3-2, 26pts
Playoff Odds: >99 percent
First Place Odds: 93%
Second Place Odds: 7%
Max. Points Available: 35pts
Magic Number: 5pts
Up Next: vs. MEM (9/19)
Louisville keeps doing what it does late in regular seasons and can clinch a playoff spot on Saturday night should it take victory at home against Memphis 901 FC and Saint Louis FC fail to claim victory against Sporting Kansas City II. A win would also extend LouCity’s edge over Indy to seven points, which would put the side close to locking up first place in the group as well.
2. Indy Eleven
2. Indy Eleven
Record: 7-5-1, 22pts
Playoff Odds: 83 percent
First Place Odds: 6%
Second Place Odds: 77%
Max. Points Available: 31pts
Magic Number: 9pts
Up Next: vs. STL (9/23)
Indy’s inability to solve Louisville City FC means the Boys in Blue could be under serious pressure by the time the weekend comes to a close. Should Saint Louis FC take victory against Sporting Kansas City II on Saturday night, STLFC would move one point behind Indy with three games to go ahead of the first of two meetings in the final weeks of the season next Wednesday night at Lucas Oil Stadium.
3. Saint Louis FC
3. Saint Louis FC
Record: 5-4-3, 18pts
Playoff Odds: 17 percent
First Place Odds: <1%
Second Place Odds: 16%
Max. Points Available: 30pts
Magic Number: N/A
Up Next: vs. SKC (9/19)
The door is open for Saint Louis FC thanks to Louisville City FC’s victory against Indy Eleven on Wednesday night. Now STLFC has to take advantage with a win against Sporting Kansas City II on Saturday. Accomplish that, and it’ll have the chance to jump past Indy Eleven next week when the sides meet at Lucas Oil Stadium.
4. Sporting Kansas City II
4. Sporting Kansas City II
Record: 4-7-1, 13pts
Playoff Odds: <1 percent
First Place Odds: <1%
Second Place Odds: <1%
Max. Points Available: 25pts
Magic Number: N/A
Up Next: at STL (9/19)
Louisville’s victory against Indy Eleven was also good for Sporting’s slim playoff chances, but if it doesn’t win on Saturday when it visits Saint Louis FC the playoffs are probably going to be out of reach.
 

Group F

1. Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC
1. Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC
Record: 9-3-1, 28pts
Playoff Odds: Clinched
First Place Odds: 96%
Second Place Odds: 4%
Max. Points Available: 37pts
Magic Number: Clinched
Up Next: at LDN (9/19)
Pittsburgh can’t lock up first place in the group yet thanks to Hartford’s victory on Wednesday night, but with the side currently sitting with the most available points in the Eastern Conference finding a win against Loudoun United FC would keep the Hounds on track to securing the top seed for when the postseason arrives.
2. Hartford Athletic
2. Hartford Athletic
Record: 7-3-1, 22pts
Playoff Odds: >99 percent
First Place Odds: 4%
Second Place Odds: 96%
Max. Points Available: 37pts
Magic Number: 3pts
Up Next: at PHI (9/20)
The Athletic got the victory they needed to fend off the advances of the New York Red Bulls II and are now just one win from the playoffs as they visit the Philadelphia Union II on Sunday night. It’s still unlikely Hartford will be able to make a push for first place, but that remains in play for the moment as well.
3. New York Red Bulls II
3. New York Red Bulls II
Record: 4-7-0, 12pts
Playoff Odds: <1 percent
First Place Odds: N/A
Second Place Odds: <1%
Max. Points Available: 24pts
Magic Number: N/A
Up Next: at ATL (9/23)
Realistically, Wednesday night’s loss was probably it for New York’s playoff chances and brings to an end a five-year postseason run. The Red Bulls II would be officially eliminated if Hartford takes victory against the Philadelphia Union II on Sunday night.
4. Philadelphia Union II
4. Philadelphia Union II
Record: 2-7-2, 8pts
Playoff Odds: <1 percent
First Place Odds: N/A
Second Place Odds: <1%
Max. Points Available: 23pts
Magic Number: N/A
Up Next: vs. HFD (9/20)
The Union II are still mathematically alive after their win against Loudoun United FC on Wednesday, but anything but a victory at home to Hartford Athletic on Sunday is going to spell the official end of their playoff hopes.
5. Loudoun United FC
5. Loudoun United FC
Record: 1-8-3, 6pts
Playoff Odds: Eliminated
First Place Odds: N/A
Second Place Odds: N/A
Max. Points Available: 18pts
Magic Number: N/A
Up Next: vs. PIT (9/19)
It’s officially over now for Loudoun after its loss on Wednesday to the Philadelphia Union II and Hartford’s victory against the New York Red Bulls II. And now they get the daunting prospect of a visit from Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC on Saturday.
 

Group G

1. Birmingham Legion FC
1. Birmingham Legion FC
Record: 7-3-4, 25pts
Playoff Odds: >99 percent
First Place Odds: 69%
Second Place Odds: 30%
Max. Points Available: 31pts
Magic Number: 4pts
Up Next: vs. NC (9/26)
Birmingham’s emphatic victory in Miami on Wednesday night moved it within touching distance of the postseason. It can’t quite get there this weekend even if North Carolina FC falls to the Charlotte Independence – NCFC has four wins and would still be able to catch Legion FC on 25 points with the total wins tiebreaker – but Legion FC’s win put pressure on the Independence to get a result on the road to keep up its run at first place.
2. Charlotte Independence
2. Charlotte Independence
Record: 6-3-3, 21pts
Playoff Odds: 89 percent
First Place Odds: 28%
Second Place Odds: 61%
Max. Points Available: 33pts
Magic Number: 8pts
Up Next: at NC (9/19)
The Independence still have the highest available points total in Group G, but Birmingham’s victory against Miami on Wednesday night means that the Independence will have to take maximum points from their two games in hand to overtake Legion FC for first place. With North Carolina FC playing for its playoff life on Saturday when Charlotte visits, that could be a tricky task, even if the Independence have taken both prior meeting this season between the clubs.
3. North Carolina FC
3. North Carolina FC
Record: 4-6-1, 13pts
Playoff Odds: 12 percent
First Place Odds: 3%
Second Place Odds: 9%
Max. Points Available: 28pts
Magic Number: N/A
Up Next: vs. CLT (9/19)
It’s do-or-die time for North Carolina FC on Saturday night. Win, and their chances of catching the Charlotte Independence remain solidly alive. Lose, and the gap between the top two and third-placed NCFC becomes one that looks too hard to cross. North Carolina produced against Memphis when it was up against it last time out, can it do something similar this time?
4. Memphis 901 FC
4. Memphis 901 FC
Record: 2-6-4, 10pts
Playoff Odds: <1percent
First Place Odds: <1%
Second Place Odds: <1%
Max. Points Available: 22pts
Magic Number: N/A
Up Next: at LOU (9/19)
Memphis can’t catch Birmingham Legion FC anymore, and with a visit to Louisville City FC up next with 901 FC needing a victory to stay alive, official elimination may arrive on Saturday night.
 

Group H

1. Tampa Bay Rowdies
1. Tampa Bay Rowdies
Record: 9-2-3, 30pts
Playoff Odds: Clinched
First Place Odds: 82%
Second Place Odds: 18%
Max. Points Available: 36pts
Magic Number: N/A
Up Next: at MIA (9/26)
The Rowdies got the win they needed – just – against Atlanta United 2 on Wednesday night, and that keeps the pressure on the Charleston Battery to keep winning in the race for first place. Tampa Bay would certainly appreciate a helping hand from Miami FC on Sunday as it visits the Battery.
2. Charleston Battery
2. Charleston Battery
Record: 7-2-3, 24pts
Playoff Odds: >99 percent
First Place Odds: 18%
Second Place Odds: 22%
Max. Points Available: 36pts
Magic Number: 1pt
Up Next: vs. MIA (9/20)
The Battery will need only a draw to claim a playoff place for the 10th consecutive season on Sunday night, but if it’s going to claim first place in the group a victory against Miami FC to close the gap to three points on the Tampa Bay Rowdies is going to be the aim for Head Coach Mike Anhaeuser’s side.
3. Atlanta United 2
3. Atlanta United 2
Record: 2-9-3, 9pts
Playoff Odds: Eliminated
First Place Odds: N/A
Second Place Odds: N/A
Max. Points Available: 21pts
Magic Number: N/A
Up Next: vs. NY (9/23)
Atlanta almost gave the Charleston Battery a big lift on Wednesday night before the Tampa Bay Rowdies claimed a late winner. Two games to go, and finding the desire to pull out at least one more victory is all that remains.
4. The Miami FC
4. The Miami FC
Record: 2-6-3, 9pts
Playoff Odds: <1 percent
First Place Odds: N/A
Second Place Odds: <1%
Max. Points Available: 24pts
Magic Number: N/A
Up Next: at CHS (9/20)
Miami’s loss to Birmingham meant that anything but a win against the Charleston Battery at Patriots Point on Sunday is going to mean official elimination.

Follow the USL Championship

Most Recent News

Most Read News

Latest Videos

  • Somos Familia – The Lucero Family

  • By USLChampionship.com Staff 01/25/2021, 8:20pm EST
  • New Mexico United’s short documentary follows family whose passionate fandom brought them to Colorado Springs in 2020 season.
  • Read More