Sacramento Republic FC and Oakland Roots SC clash on Saturday night in a key game for the aspirations of both in the current Western Conference playoff race. | Photo courtesy Sacramento Republic FC
Welcome to our latest look at the playoff picture across the USL Championship as we enter this weekend’s action, where the top teams in both conferences will try to seal their postseason places on Saturday night as they vie for the best record in the league and top seed in the 2022 USL Championship Playoffs.
After Wednesday night’s results, though, the big battles this weekend are in the Western Conference, where the spotlight falls on both the teams above and below the playoff line and vying for a top-four finish thanks to some really intriguing matchups.
Here are four games to keep an eye on, and where everyone stands going into the 12-game schedule.
Louisville City FC needs just a draw to clinch its eighth consecutive postseason berth after FC Tulsa’s loss on Wednesday night, and that result also gave Miami FC another push toward a playoff place with its Magic Number coming down to 17. After LouCity’s victory earlier this season, however, the visitors will be looking to add another win to keep the pressure on San Antonio FC for the best record in the Championship, which is the big prize still available for the current favorite to win the Championship Final.
Both Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC and New Mexico United picked up morale-boosting victories last weekend as they square off with third place in the Western Conference in the balance. A Switchbacks win would give them a six-point lead on United in the standings, but New Mexico won three out of four meetings between the teams last season, including the inaugural home opener at Weidner Field. With these teams set to meet again on the final day of the regular season, this is a massive game for both.
El Paso Locomotive FC is winless in its last six games, and while it’s still above the playoff line in seventh position it now has only seven games to play. That makes Phoenix Rising FC’s visit one of the big games this weekend, with Phoenix and new Head Coach Juan Guerra sitting with 10 games left to play as they try to make a move. A win for Rising FC would move the visitors within a point of Locomotive FC while still holding three games in hand, and would be a massive blow to El Paso’s playoff chances, making it a must-win for Head Coach John Hutchinson’s side.
Oakland Roots SC’s victory against San Diego Loyal SC on Wednesday night in interim Head Coach Noah Delgado’s debut was a massive boost for the club’s playoff hopes. Now Roots SC will be aiming to deliver the same result as it visits rival Sacramento Republic FC, which is aiming to bounce back from a loss on the road to Las Vegas Lights FC. A win for Sacramento – which would be their first against Oakland since Roots SC joined the league last season – would keep Republic FC in contention for a top-four finish as it keeps an eye on the Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC vs. New Mexico United clash earlier in the night.
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