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USL Championship Race to the Playoffs – August 17

By NICHOLAS MURRAY -, 08/16/22, 7:30PM EDT


San Antonio’s closing in on claiming its postseason place, and Wednesday’s games play into that

Sacramento Republic FC and Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC square off for the second time this season sitting in the middle of a battle for homefield advantage in the Western Conference. | Photo courtesy Isaiah J. Downing / Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC

San Antonio FC could be the first team to clinch a place in the USL Championship Playoffs this weekend, depending on results elsewhere in the West, but before we get to that there’s a terrific slate of action on Wednesday night in which all four games figure to have an impact on the playoff chances for the eight clubs involved.

Games to Watch

Birmingham Legion FC
August 17 | 8:00 p.m. ET
Protective Stadium
Detroit City FC

Birmingham Legion FC moved into the top four in the Eastern Conference with its victory against San Diego Loyal SC on Saturday night, and it would solidify that spot with a fifth consecutive victory to kick off a two-game week. Detroit City FC took victory when it hosted Legion FC earlier this season, though, and with a win would build a double-digit lead on FC Tulsa – the last remaining side that looks in with a chance on the outside of the playoff positions in the East – as well as regaining sixth place from Miami FC. Expect a tightly fought battle between two well-drilled sides.

Orange County SC
August 17 | 10:00 p.m. ET
Championship Soccer Stadium
Las Vegas Lights FC

Orange County SC must make up a seven-point gap to seventh-placed Las Vegas Lights FC with 10 games to go in its regular season. The defending title holders are coming off a big 2-1 win against Phoenix Rising FC last Friday night to stay in with a chance, but with a tough run of road games down the stretch including visits to Tampa Bay, Sacramento, Pittsburgh and San Antonio, this is basically a must-win for the hosts as Lights FC tries to complete a season sweep of the series.

Sacramento Republic FC
August 17 | 11:00 p.m. ET
Heart Health Park
Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC

Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC is still favorite to take third place in the Western Conference despite a recent five-game winless streak, but that could get flipped around if Sacramento Republic FC takes victory on home turf. Sitting five points back of the Switchbacks in fifth place, and holding a game in hand, Sacramento could make the battle for homefield advantage to start the playoffs and the overall seeding picture very interesting with three points here ahead of big weekend games for both clubs.



2. San Antonio FC
1. San Antonio FC
Record: 18-4-2, 56pts
Playoff Odds: >99%
Projected Finish: 1st (91%)
Max. Points Available: 86pts
Magic Number: 4
Up Next: vs. RGV (8/20)
San Antonio’s victory at home to Las Vegas Lights FC on Saturday brought its Magic Number down to four, but with Phoenix Rising FC holding the head-to-head tiebreaker SAFC will need a little help this week to clinch its postseason berth on Saturday night. First up, victory against Rio Grande Valley FC would move SAFC to 59 points – and drop the Toros’ available total to 56 – while also moving San Antonio clear of the LA Galaxy II thanks to their head-to-head series win (1-0-1). Then it’s about Las Vegas Lights FC and Monterey Bay F.C. If Lights FC drops four points over the week – effectively, failing to win either of its games against Orange County SC or Sacramento Republic FC – it would drop to a maximum of 59 available points, putting San Antonio clear on head-to-head (2-0-0). If Las Vegas finds a way to win one of those, then SAFC would need Monterey Bay to lose to New Mexico United on Saturday night, dropping MBFC’s available maximum to 59 points with SAFC holding the tiebreaker over the first-year side (2-0-0) to put it clear and into a third consecutive postseason.
2. San Diego Loyal SC
2. San Diego Loyal SC
Record: 15-6-4, 49pts
Playoff Odds: >99%
Projected Finish: 2nd (71%)
Max. Points Available: 76pts
Magic Number: 11
Up Next: at ELP (8/20)
San Diego’s five-game winning streak came to an end at Birmingham Legion FC, but with no other side in the top seven taking victory it’s still comfortably on course for a second-place finish right now. In terms of the bigger playoff race, SD Loyal will have a lot of teams hoping it can take points off El Paso Locomotive FC on Saturday night in one of the bigger games of the week.
3. Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC
3. Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC
Record: 13-8-3, 42pts
Playoff Odds: 97%
Projected Finish: 3rd (34%)
Max. Points Available: 72pts
Magic Number: 18
Up Next: at SAC (8/17), vs. TBR (8/20)
The Switchbacks’ defensive struggles are an ongoing concern – the side has conceded 17 times in the past five games – but with a point on Friday night they still managed to fare better than the teams chasing them for third place. This week is going to be crucial, however, with Sacramento having a chance to close the gap from fifth place and the Tampa Bay Rowdies coming in looking to rebound from a setback as they take aim at top spot in the East.
4. New Mexico United
4. New Mexico United
Record: 10-5-9, 39pts
Playoff Odds: 94%
Projected Finish: 3rd (26%)
Max. Points Available: 69pts
Magic Number: 21
Up Next:vs. MEM (8/17), vs. MB (8/20)
New Mexico let a chance to get some breathing room from Sacramento Republic FC – and the close the gap on Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC – slip away as it drew 2-2 with the LA Galaxy II on Sunday evening. There’s no real damage done to United’s playoff chances after results elsewhere, but this is setting up as an important week with two home games against in-form opposition. Getting back into the win column would be a major boost.
7. Sacramento Republic FC
5. Sacramento Republic FC
Record: 10-6-7, 37pts
Playoff Odds: 93%
Projected Finish: 4th (28%)
Max. Points Available: 71pts
Magic Number: 23
Up Next: vs. COS (8/17), at LV (8/20)
Sacramento couldn’t complete a season sweep of NorCal rival Monterey Bay F.C. on Saturday, and as a result missed out on the opportunity to take advantage of results elsewhere. A victory against Colorado Springs on Wednesday night could offer a major move in the chance of a top-four finish as it would move Republic FC within two points of the Switchbacks with a game in hand.
2. El Paso Locomotive FC
6. El Paso Locomotive FC
Record: 9-10-7, 34pts
Playoff Odds: 46%
Projected Finish: 6th (16%)
Max Points Available: 58pts
Magic Number: N/A
Up Next: vs. SD (8/20)
What a roller coaster ride Friday night was, with El Paso staring down defeat after 10 minutes only to have its own victory grabbed away in stoppage time. In the big picture, those dropped points could come back to haunt Locomotive FC in the end – they need to start winning, and see the teams below them continue to drop points with only eight games left in their schedule.
2. El Paso Locomotive FC
7. Las Vegas Lights FC
Record: 9-9-6, 33pts
Playoff Odds: 31%
Projected Finish: 8th (14%)
Max Points Available: 63pts
Magic Number: 27
Up Next:at OC (8/17), vs. SAC (8/20)
This is a crucial week for Las Vegas Lights FC as it faces first one of the teams chasing it in seventh position, and then hosts one of the teams above it in the standings that it could still conceivably reel in. If it can replicate its prior win this season against Orange County, the path to the playoffs could open wider than the odds it currently sits on, making that game maybe the most important in Wednesday night’s slate.
4. LA Galaxy II
8. LA Galaxy II
Record: 9-11-5, 32pts
Playoff Odds: 40%
Projected Finish: 7th (15%)
Max. Points Available: 59pts
Magic Number: N/A
Up Next: vs. CHS (8/20)
Los Dos’ comeback against New Mexico United didn’t quite earn all three points – which would have pushed the side ahead of Las Vegas Lights FC and into seventh place. Of the weekend matchups for the teams around the playoff line, LA has the one that looks to have the best chance to take advantage of. Anything but three points against Charleston and former player Augustine Williams will be a letdown.
5. Oakland Roots SC
9. Oakland Roots SC
Record: 6-7-12, 30pts
Playoff Odds: 23%
Projected Finish: 10th (15%)
Max. Points Available: 57pts
Magic Number: N/A
Up Next: at SD (8/24)
We’ve noted here before that draws are the road to playoff ruin. Oakland letting another lead slip – this time against familiar foe Detroit City FC – might have moved the side up a place in the standings, but it dropped the side to the second-fewest available points of any team in the West. Wins have to start arriving, fast.
Phoenix Rising FC
10. Phoenix Rising FC
Record: 8-11-5, 29pts
Playoff Odds: 30%
Projected Finish: 8th (12%)
Max. Points Available: 59pts
Magic Number: N/A
Up Next: at ELP (8/27)
Phoenix’s defeat to Orange County SC on Friday night – which surrendered the head-to-head series between the two when it comes to tiebreakers – was a major blow to its playoff chances. Now Rising FC will sit and watch this week before another crucial game against El Paso Locomotive FC hoping none of its rivals around the playoff line can put together a six-point week.
6. Rio Grande Valley FC
11. Monterey Bay F.C.
Record: 9-12-2, 29pts
Playoff Odds: 19%
Projected Finish: 12th (17%)
Max. Points Available: 62pts
Magic Number: 31
Up Next:at NM (8/20)
Monterey Bay F.C.’s victory against Sacramento Republic FC might have been the most important in the playoff race last weekend – it was between that and Orange County, for certain – and it means the side is currently in possession of the seventh-highest available points total in the West. That means it’s got to keep winning, of course, with New Mexico a tough place typically to get points, but the way the side is playing defensively right now will give it a shot.
3. Orange County SC
12. Orange County SC
Record: 6-10-8, 26pts
Playoff Odds: 5%
Projected Finish: 13th (41%)
Max. Points Available: 56pts
Magic Number: N/A
Up Next: vs. LV (8/17)
The defending title holder’s chances are still slim even with Friday night’s victory against Phoenix Rising FC. If Orange County can take victory against Las Vegas Lights FC before having this weekend off, the door will open that little bit further.
6. Rio Grande Valley FC
13. Rio Grande Valley FC
Record: 7-11-5, 26pts
Playoff Odds: 21%
Projected Finish: 12th (16%)
Max. Points Available: 59pts
Magic Number: N/A
Up Next: at SA (8/20)
The Toros have 11 games left, and a seven-point gap to make up as the week begins. That means the side must take points from Saturday’s visit to San Antonio FC as it tries to get back on course.


2. Louisville City FC
1. Louisville City FC
Record: 16-3-4, 52pts
Playoff Odds: >99%
Projected Finish: 1st (70%)
Max. Points Available: 85pts
Magic Number: 7
Up Next: at DET (8/20)
Louisville City FC’s victory against the Tampa Bay Rowdies before its first sellout at Lynn Family Stadium made the two-time title winners the favorite to finish top of the East and built a four-point cushion on the Rowdies and Memphis 901 FC. Louisville can’t quite clinch a playoff place this week – its regular-season series with FC Tulsa isn’t yet resolved – but it can move within a point with victory on the road in Detroit should Tulsa fall at home to Indy Eleven.
3. Memphis 901 FC
2. Memphis 901 FC
Record: 15-5-3, 48pts
Playoff Odds: >99%
Projected Finish: 3rd (37%)
Max. Points Available: 81pts
Magic Number: 11
Up Next: at NM (8/17), vs. BHM (8/20)
901 FC’s first victory against Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC couldn’t have come at a timelier moment, and now with a game in hand on the Tampa Bay Rowdies, Memphis can take control of second place on Wednesday night as it visits New Mexico United. That’s not likely to be an easy assignment, and neither is Saturday’s Southern Harm rematch against Birmingham Legion FC at AutoZone Park, keeping the pressure on Head Coach Ben Pirmann’s side to keep delivering as it has over a three-game winning streak.
1. Tampa Bay Rowdies
3. Tampa Bay Rowdies
Record: 14-4-6, 48pts
Playoff Odds: >99%
Projected Finish: 2nd (48%)
Max. Points Available: 78pts
Magic Number: 11
Up Next: at COS (8/20)
Tampa Bay’s loss to Louisville City FC on Saturday made the path to finishing first a whole lot more difficult, and it will have a keen eye on Memphis 901 FC’s game on Wednesday night against New Mexico United as those two sides look set to battle for second from here. Heading to Colorado Springs this weekend with the Switchbacks both struggling defensively and coming off short rest with a game on Wednesday could offer a good chance to rebound.
1. Birmingham Legion FC
4. Birmingham Legion FC
Record: 13-6-5, 44pts
Playoff Odds: >99%
Projected Finish: 5th (37%)
Max. Points Available: 74pts
Magic Number: 15
Up Next:vs. DET (8/17), at MEM (8/20)
With four victories in a row, there’s no team hotter right now than Birmingham Legion FC. It’s going to need to continue that form this week, though, with two games that on paper look difficult against a Detroit City FC side that is also on course for a playoff place, and the return fixture in the Southern Harm rivalry. Legion FC claimed victory in the first meeting in dramatic fashion thanks to Anderson Asiedu back in June, a repeat of that and Legion FC could be challenging for the top two.
3. Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC
5. Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC
Record: 13-7-4, 43pts
Playoff Odds: >99%
Projected Finish: 4th (38%)
Max. Points Available: 73pts
Magic Number: 16
Up Next: vs. NY (8/20)
Pittsburgh dropped out of the top four with its loss to Memphis 901 FC, but it’s got a great chance to rebound as it hosts the New York Red Bulls II on Saturday night. Between now and then, it will keep an eye on 901 FC and Birmingham Legion FC’s games on Wednesday night to see what sort of gap they have to make up.
4. The Miami FC
6. The Miami FC
Record:10-8-7, 37pts
Playoff Odds: 94%
Projected Finish: 6th (43%)
Max. Points Available: 64pts
Magic Number: 22
Up Next:at HFD (8/20)
Bouncing back from its midweek defeat with a solid performance sent Miami nine points ahead of FC Tulsa in the standings and moved the target to Detroit City FC for the Oklahoma club. Another victory against Hartford Athletic on Saturday night – and the familiar face of Ariel Martinez – would be another positive step for Miami.
1. Birmingham Legion FC
7. Detroit City FC
Record: 9-5-9, 36pts
Playoff Odds: 85%
Projected Finish: 7th (43%)
Max. Points Available: 69pts
Magic Number: 23
Up Next:at BHM (8/17), vs. LOU (8/20)
Le Rouge grabbed a point at home to make the gap between itself and eighth-placed FC Tulsa eight points. Detroit also has the advantage of a game in hand on Tulsa with 11 games to go in the season, but this week is a difficult one against two top-four opponents, including a rematch of the epic Open Cup matchup at Keyworth Stadium against Louisville City FC.
4. FC Tulsa
8. FC Tulsa
Record: 8-12-4, 28pts
Playoff Odds: 20%
Projected Finish: 8th (57%)
Max. Points Available: 58pts
Magic Number: N/A
Up Next: vs. IND (8/20)
The numbers say the only team in with a realistic chance of breaking into the top seven in the Eastern Conference currently on the outside looking in is FC Tulsa. A victory against Indy Eleven on Saturday night at ONEOK Field would cement that position, but the Oklahoma side needs Detroit City FC and Miami FC to drop some points as well to increase its odds.
5. OKC Energy FC
9. Indy Eleven
Record: 6-13-4, 22pts
Playoff Odds: 1%
Projected Finish: 9th (38%)
Max. Points Available: 55pts
Magic Number: N/A
Up Next:at TUL (8/20)
Indy’s defeat against Hartford Athletic effectively pushed it past the point of no return. With a 14-point gap to make up and only 11 games left, it’s going to take something this side hasn’t shown recently to make a miracle run.
5. OKC Energy FC
10. Hartford Athletic
Record: 5-14-5, 20pts
Playoff Odds: < 1%
Projected Finish: 10th (33%)
Max. Points Available: 50pts
Magic Number: N/A
Up Next: vs. MIA (8/20)
Earning victory against Indy Eleven likely ended the Boys in Blue’s slim chances of a playoff berth. If the Athletic can find the same result against Miami on Saturday, FC Tulsa would be extremely happy indeed.
5. OKC Energy FC
11. Loudoun United FC
Record: 5-15-3, 19pts
Playoff Odds: < 1%
Projected Finish: 11th (28%)
Max. Points Available: 51pts
Magic Number: N/A
Up Next: vs. ATL (8/20)
Loudoun is still mathematically alive, which is something. It could make Atlanta mathematically eliminated with a victory on Saturday night.
5. OKC Energy FC
12. Atlanta United 2
Record: 4-18-4, 16pts
Playoff Odds: < 1%
Projected Finish: 13th (46%)
Max. Points Available: 40pts
Magic Number: N/A
Up Next: at LDN (8/20)
Atlanta isn’t at the bottom of the Eastern Conference standings, but with only eight games left it could be the first team eliminated this weekend. A loss to Loudoun United FC and positive results for both Miami FC and Detroit City FC – which plays twice – and seventh place will be out of reach for Atlanta.
5. OKC Energy FC
13. Charleston Battery
Record: 4-16-4, 16pts
Playoff Odds: < 1%
Projected Finish: 11th (30%)
Max. Points Available: 46pts
Magic Number: N/A
Up Next: at LA (8/20)
Augustine Williams notched his 50th regular-season goal in the Championship as Charleston defeated the New York Red Bulls II on Friday night and will be keen to find the scoresheet against former club the LA Galaxy II on Saturday night as the Battery head west. If that results in Charleston taking victory against Los Dos, a lot of Western Conference sides would find that very welcome.
5. OKC Energy FC
14. New York Red Bulls II
Record: 3-18-3, 12pts
Playoff Odds: < 1%
Projected Finish: 14th (74%)
Max. Points Available: 42pts
Magic Number: N/A
Up Next: at PIT (8/20)
New York could also be officially eliminated this weekend as well as Atlanta. A defeat against Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC combined with four points across two games by Detroit City FC and a Miami FC victory on the road against Hartford Athletic would move those two teams clear of the Red Bulls II.

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