Memphis 901 FC and FC Tulsa square off on Wednesday night with a chance that third place in the Central Division could be settled by the end of the night at AutoZone Park. | Photo courtesy Eric Glemser / Memphis 901 FC
There is one week – and 20 games – to go in the 2021 USL Championship season and as it stands we’re going to Showdown Saturday with both remaining playoff places up for grabs, plus one division title and three second-place finishes that will set which teams get to open the postseason between November 5-7 on their home turf.
Three games in the limited midweek slate on Wednesday night feature in those battles. Rio Grande Valley FC gets its chance to remain at the driver’s wheel in the Mountain Division and the matchups featuring the three teams in the Atlantic Division still fighting for second place offer a unique situation as Miami FC and Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC try to catch the Charlotte Independence.
Here are three games to keep an eye on this week, and where everyone stands with a week to go.
The unique circumstances that bring Miami FC and Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC back together a FIU Stadium to complete a game the Hounds hold a 1-0 lead in with 23 minutes to go aside, there’s no question that this game is absolutely pivotal to both clubs and their final positions. Pittsburgh will be assured of third place if it retains its lead and remain in contention for second place as the Charlotte Independence look for all three points in their penultimate game earlier in the evening against last-placed Loudoun United FC at American Legion Memorial Stadium. For Miami, there has to be a turnaround to take victory to remain in with a chance at second place, but if it can’t come back – as it has twice previously this season to win against the Hounds – it will lock into fourth place and a trip to either Birmingham Legion FC or Louisville City FC to start the postseason.
Third place in the Central Division could be decided when current third-placed side Memphis 901 FC takes on fourth-placed FC Tulsa with the hosts currently holding an edge in the head-to-head series as the team enters level on points. Should Memphis take victory it would complete a 3-1-0 series victory against Tulsa and be out of reach in third going to the final day of the season. If they draw, 901 FC would remain in control of the head-to-head tiebreaker with a 2-1-1 record and would simply need to match Tulsa’s result in its final game of the season to stay ahead in third. If Tulsa takes victory to even the series, and a three-point lead with one game to go, then the visitors would take control and need just a point from their final game at home to OKC Energy FC on Saturday night. It should prove an interesting clash as a result.
Rio Grande Valley FC took a 2-0 win against New Mexico United on Saturday that saw the Toros claim control over which club would claim the final playoff place in the Mountain Division. Now they’ve got to back that up with a victory on the road against a Real Monarchs SLC side that may be in last place, but that has recently played visitors to Zions Bank Stadium with increased tenacity. With a win in what is serving as its game in hand, Rio Grande Valley would move a point ahead of New Mexico as both go to their final games of the season this weekend. To do that, the Toros would need to pick up their first three points on the road since their last visit to Zions Bank Stadium on August 3 with the side 0-4-3 in its last seven road outings. If RGVFC gets held to a draw, the ball is back in New Mexico’s court with Austin Bold FC lying in wait should both slip up.
Tag(s): News San Antonio FC CO Spring Switchbacks LA Galaxy II Orange County SC Phoenix Rising FC Rio Grande Valley FC FC Tulsa Charlotte Independence Louisville City FC Pittsburgh Riverhounds Tampa Bay Rowdies Birmingham Legion FC Austin Bold FC Memphis 901 FC El Paso Locomotive FC New Mexico United Tacoma Defiance San Diego Loyal SC The Miami FC Oakland Roots SC