San Diego Loyal SC could clinch a playoff berth on Saturday night, but would need to take victory against Monterey Bay F.C. and get help from elsewhere to do so. | Photo courtesy San Diego Loyal SC
Welcome to our latest look at the playoff picture across the USL Championship as we go into this Labor Day weekend’s action, where the race in the Western Conference remains wide open after Phoenix Rising FC’s victory on Wednesday night, a result that also brought San Diego Loyal SC’s playoff place into view.
Over in the Eastern Conference, the top three teams could now clinch their places this weekend – Louisville City FC will be hoping the third time’s the charm, while the Tampa Bay Rowdies and Memphis 901 FC need help from Atlanta United 2 against FC Tulsa.
Here are four games to keep an eye on, and where everyone stands.
The Derby del Camino Real is a must-see on any occasion, but the added playoff storylines that provide the backdrop to the second meeting of the season between New Mexico United and El Paso Locomotive FC make Friday night’s lone contest that much more compelling. New Mexico is solidly in position to take a playoff place with seven games to play and would move back into a top-four position with a victory, which would also complete a season sweep of its rival. El Paso is above the playoff line for now, but with only six games left it needs to keep winning to stay there with all its rivals holding at least one game in hand to try and reel it in. That should make for another great chapter in arguably the best current rivalry in the league.
Miami FC and Birmingham Legion FC are both in good shape and in good form coming into their clash in South Florida this weekend, but both need victory for different reasons. Sitting in sixth place, and coming off three consecutive shutout victories, Miami can close in on clinching a playoff berth while keeping eighth-placed FC Tulsa at arm’s length with a win as it duels with Detroit City FC for position. Birmingham, meanwhile, is aiming to solidify a top-four position, and if things go right elsewhere it could end the night in second place, even though both the Tampa Bay Rowdies and Memphis 901 FC would hold a game in hand. It’s likely to be a tense contest, but it’s not far-fetched to think this could be an Eastern Conference Quarterfinal next month.
Phoenix Rising FC got the victory it had to have on Wednesday night against Rio Grande Valley FC, but it can’t let its momentum falter as it heads for its second game of the week against Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC with the playoff picture in the Western Conference still wide open. After absorbing a 4-0 defeat on July 30 at Wild Horse Pass, you can be sure Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC will be out for some payback back on its home turf, and a victory for the Switchbacks would also bolster their top-three position and a chance at a first home playoff game since 2016.
San Diego Loyal SC can see the finish line when it comes to clinching a second consecutive postseason berth, but to get there it will need to take victory against Monterey Bay F.C. while getting help from elsewhere. With MBFC still in with a chance at a playoff place in its inaugural season – and showing improved defensive play of late to keep hold of that opportunity – this should be a compelling contest that will have a major impact on not only the fortunes of both these teams, but those around them at the top and bottom of the standings.
Tag(s): Features San Antonio FC CO Spring Switchbacks LA Galaxy II Orange County SC Phoenix Rising FC Rio Grande Valley FC Sacramento Republic FC FC Tulsa Louisville City FC Pittsburgh Riverhounds Tampa Bay Rowdies Las Vegas Lights FC Birmingham Legion FC Indy Eleven Memphis 901 FC El Paso Locomotive FC New Mexico United Loudoun United FC Hartford Athletic San Diego Loyal SC The Miami FC Oakland Roots SC Race to the Playoffs Detroit City FC Monterey Bay F.C.