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USL Championship Race to the Playoffs – Sept. 30- Oct. 2

By Staff, 09/29/22, 4:58PM EDT


Las Vegas Lights FC
September 30 | 10:00 p.m. ET
Cashman Field
New Mexico United

Las Vegas’ win over Monterey Bay F.C. on Tuesday night keeps things confusing and muddy around the Western Conference’s playoff line. This is a huge match for both teams. A New Mexico win brings into play a scenario where New Mexico could actually clinch a playoff berth as early as this weekend if results in three other games go their way. A Las Vegas win would see Lights FC vault above the playoff line for at least Friday night, but it still needs other teams to drop points to have a chance.

The Miami FC
Ocotber 1 | 7:00 p.m. ET
Riccardo Silva Stadium
Memphis 901 FC

Both of these teams have their postseason tickets punched, but the stakes remain enormous for Memphis. Ben Pirmann’s side will be without three suspended players – Laurent Kissiedou, Rece Buckmaster, and Phillip Goodrum – in the aftermath of last weekend’s clash with Louisville City. Can Memphis win and maintain control of its own destiny for the top seed in the Eastern Conference? It won’t be easy.

Rio Grande Valley FC
Ocotber 1 | 8:30 p.m. ET
H-E-B Park
Louisville City FC

Speaking of games that won’t be easy… Louisville lost last weekend and, in the process, lost control of the race for the No. 1 seed in the east. If it hoped for an easy bounce back game, the schedule did not cooperate. LouCity travels to Rio Grande Valley, a team that has four straight games, with Corben Bone and Tyler Gibson both unavailable through suspension. RGV FC midfielder Christian Pinzon is the reigning USL Championship Player of the Week and has scored seven goals in 10 appearances since joining the club. There’s a lot on the line for RGV in this match as well. Depending on the Las Vegas vs. New Mexico result on Friday night, the Toros may find themselves below the playoff line at kickoff.

Oakland Roots SC
October 1 | 10:00 p.m. ET
Laney Football Stadium
Birmingham Legion FC

Oakland finds itself below the playoff line and in a three-way tie on points with Monterey Bay and Las Vegas. For all three of those clubs, the margin of error is getting dangerously small. None of them control their own destiny. They need to win out and get some help. Can Oakland win its home finale and strengthen its position?

Monterey Bay F.C.
Ocotber 2 | 10:00 p.m. ET
Cardinale Stadium
Tampa Bay Rowdies

Like Oakland, Monterey Bay F.C. doesn’t have a lot of wiggle room left after Tuesday’s 4-0 hammering at the hands of Las Vegas. This match was rescheduled from Saturday to Sunday because of travel difficulties the Rowdies faced as a result of Hurricane Ian. How prepared for this game will the Rowdies be? Can they gut out a result and snap a four-game road losing streak?



2. San Antonio FC
1. San Antonio FC
Record: 22-5-4, 70 pts
Playoff Odds: Clinched
Projected Finish: 1st (100%)
Max. Points Available: 79pts
Magic Number: IN
Up Next: at PIT (10/1)
San Antonio can clinch the No. 1 overall seed this weekend with a win over Pittsburgh if Memphis also drops points in Miami. A draw would be good enough for San Antonio if Memphis loses in Miami and Louisville drops points at Rio Grande Valley, but we’re sure San Antonio would prefer to just win.
2. San Diego Loyal SC
2. San Diego Loyal SC
Record: 18-9-4, 58 pts
Playoff Odds: Clinched
Projected Finish: 2nd (99%)
Max. Points Available: 67pts
Magic Number: IN
Up Next: at OC (10/1)
San Diego secured a home playoff game last weekend and it’s nearly impossible to see San Diego finishing anywhere other than second in the Western Conference. That means Loyal SC should be free to experiment and fine tune with its remaining three matches.
3. Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC
3. Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC
Record: 16-12-4, 52pts
Playoff Odds: >99%
Projected Finish: 3rd (56%)
Max. Points Available: 58pts
Magic Number: IN
Up Next: at ELP (10/5)
It’s been a good week for Colorado Springs so far. Switchbacks FC clinched its spot in the playoffs Tuesday night with Monterey Bay’s loss to Las Vegas and its chances of finishing third were given a major boost by Sacramento’s loss to Phoenix on Wednesday night. The team is idle this weekend before a midweek visit to El Paso next week.
7. Sacramento Republic FC
4. Sacramento Republic FC
Record: 14-10-7, 49pts
Playoff Odds: >99%
Projected Finish: 4th (48%)
Max. Points Available: 58pts
Magic Number: 1
Up Next: at LA (10/2)
Sacramento missed a chance to clinch a playoff spot Wednesday night by losing to Phoenix. Even a point would have gotten it done, but Republic FC can still clinch before playing Sunday in LA. If Las Vegas drops points at home Friday night against New Mexico, Sacramento will be assured of a playoff spot because even if Monterey Bay and/or Oakland catches Sacramento at 49 points, Republic FC owns the head-to-head tiebreaker over both clubs. Even if that doesn't happen, a point in LA will book that postseason ticket.
2. El Paso Locomotive FC
5. El Paso Locomotive FC
Record: 12-12-7, 43pts
Playoff Odds: 71%
Projected Finish: 7th (34%)
Max Points Available: 52pts
Magic Number: 7
Up Next: vs COS (10/5)
Fivethirtyeight likes El Paso’s odds of holding onto a playoff spot despite playing one more match than nearly all of its closest rivals. With Wednesday night’s scheduled game at Tampa Bay postponed due to Hurricane Ian, Locomotive FC doesn’t play again until October 5. Who knows what the table will look like by then?
4. New Mexico United
6. New Mexico United
Record: 11-9-10, 43pts
Playoff Odds: 91%
Projected Finish: 5th (33%)
Max. Points Available: 55pts
Magic Number: 7
Up Next: at LV (9/30)
There is a scenario in play that could see New Mexico clinch a playoff berth Sunday if four results all happen. New Mexico must beat Las Vegas on Friday night, Birmingham must beat Oakland on Saturday, Sacramento must beat LA Galaxy II on Sunday and the Rowdies must beat Monterey Bay F.C. on Sunday. If all four of those results happen, New Mexico can celebrate Sunday night. If not, the chase continues.
10. Rio Grande Valley FC
7. Rio Grande Valley FC
Record: 12-12-6, 42pts
Playoff Odds: 87%
Projected Finish: 5th (32%)
Max. Points Available: 54pts
Magic Number: 8
Up Next: vs LOU (10/1)
The Toros are red-hot but face a USL Championship blue blood when Louisville City FC comes to town Saturday night. Can orange be the color of the night? A win would boost those playoff odds even higher and help with seeding, but a loss wouldn’t be fatal. Rio Grande Valley would still control its fate.

2. El Paso Locomotive FC
8. Las Vegas Lights FC
Record: 11-13-7, 40pts
Playoff Odds: 14%
Projected Finish: 9th (21%)
Max Points Available: 49pts
Magic Number: N/A
Up Next: vs NM (9/30)
Lights FC made a major statement Tuesday night with a 4-0 romp over playoff rival Monterey Bay F.C. at Cashman Field. Another win Friday night over New Mexico would see Las Vegas climb above the playoff line into a tie on points for fifth place. The lights are still on in Las Vegas, but the team must keep winning.
6. Rio Grande Valley FC
9. Monterey Bay F.C.
Record: 12-15-4, 40pts
Playoff Odds: 8%
Projected Finish: 10th (24%)
Max. Points Available: 49pts
Magic Number: N/A
Up Next: at LV (9/27)
Tuesday’s loss in Las Vegas saw Monterey Bay’s already slim playoff odds crater from 24 percent to 8 percent and saw it lose control of its playoff destiny. That result snapped a five-game unbeaten run. Monterey Bay really needs to start another unbeaten run to have a chance at reaching the playoffs in its inaugural season.
5. Oakland Roots SC
10. Oakland Roots SC
Record: 9-9-13, 40pts
Playoff Odds: 21%
Projected Finish: 8th (24%)
Max. Points Available: 49pts
Magic Number: N/A
Up Next: vs BHM (10/1)
What must Oakland have been thinking watching the Las Vegas vs. Monterey Bay match on Tuesday night? The result leaves all three teams tied on 40 points. Oakland would lose a tiebreaker vs. Las Vegas but win a tiebreaker over Monterey Bay. The playoff picture is just so complicated right now. Like Monterey Bay and Las Vegas, all Roots SC can do is win out and hope that other teams drop enough points.
4. LA Galaxy II
11. LA Galaxy II
Record: 10-14-6, 36pts
Playoff Odds: 6%
Projected Finish: 12th (26%)
Max. Points Available: 48pts
Magic Number: N/A
Up Next: vs SAC (10/2)
LA Galaxy II is still hanging around and it’s hard to ever say what this team is capable of in a given week, but it’s hard to see a path to the postseason, especially with matches against Sacramento and New Mexico up next.
Phoenix Rising FC
12. Phoenix Rising FC
Record: 10-15-6, 36pts
Playoff Odds: <1%
Projected Finish: 12th (41%)
Max. Points Available: 45pts
Magic Number: N/A
Up Next: vs NY (10/1)
Phoenix isn’t giving up yet, but can it actually rise from the ashes? Wednesday’s win over Sacramento lifted Rising FC’s playoff odds from less than 1% all the way up to… 1%, according to Fivethirtyeight. It’s still just about impossible to see Phoenix reaching the postseason, but it’s not over yet.
Eliminated from playoff contention: Orange County SC


2. Louisville City FC
1. Louisville City FC
Record: 19-6-6, 63pts
Playoff Odds: Clinched
Projected Finish: 1st (58%)
Max. Points Available: 72pts
Magic Number: IN
Up Next: at RGV (10/1)
Even after losing control of the Eastern Conference with a 2-1 loss to Memphis last week, Fivethirtyeight is still bullish on Louisville’s chances of taking the No. 1 seed in the east. That said, would you want to travel to play a red-hot Rio Grande Valley FC this weekend coming off that loss? This one looks tricky.
3. Memphis 901 FC
2. Memphis 901 FC
Record: 19-7-4, 61pts
Playoff Odds: Clinched
Projected Finish: 2nd (47%)
Max. Points Available: 73pts
Magic Number: IN
Up Next: at MIA (10/1)
Memphis will have to fight through suspensions to a few key players in the aftermath of the finish last weekend in Louisville, as if a trip to Miami isn’t hard enough on its own. Now that it finally controls its own destiny in the east, can 901 FC take advantage?
1. Tampa Bay Rowdies
3. Tampa Bay Rowdies
Record: 16-7-7, 55pts
Playoff Odds: Clinched
Projected Finish: 3rd (72%)
Max. Points Available: 67pts
Magic Number: IN
Up Next: at MB (10/2)
The Rowdies were scheduled to play El Paso at Al Lang on Wednesday night, but that match was rescheduled due to the expected impact of Hurricane Ian. Surely, Tampa Bay’s preparation for a game on the west coast will be impacted. The Rowdies have lost four straight away from home, scoring just once in those games.
1. Birmingham Legion FC
4. Birmingham Legion FC
Record: 16-8-7, 55pts
Playoff Odds: Clinched
Projected Finish: 4th (62%)
Max. Points Available: 64pts
Magic Number: IN
Up Next: at OAK (10/1)
Birmingham pulled off a respectable result in St. Petersburg last week and now faces a long trip to Oakland. Legion FC’s playoff spot is secure, but the race for a home playoff game remains extremely tight.
3. Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC
4. Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC
Record: 15-8-8, 53pts
Playoff Odds: Clinched
Projected Finish: 5th (52%)
Max. Points Available: 62pts
Magic Number: IN
Up Next: vs SA (10/1)
Pittsburgh needs to finish the regular season really strong if it wants to open the postseason at Highmark Stadium. The problem? San Antonio comes to town this weekend with a chance to clinch home field advantage all the way through the USL Championship Final.
1. Birmingham Legion FC
6. Detroit City FC
Record: 13-6-12, 51pts
Playoff Odds: Clinched
Projected Finish: 6th (43%)
Max. Points Available: 60pts
Magic Number: IN
Up Next: at LDN (10/1)
Detroit is still in the hunt for a home playoff game, but needs wins, not draws. Last week’s draws against New York Red Bulls II and FC Tulsa won’t be good enough to earn a playoff game at Keyworth. It’s time to win.
4. The Miami FC
7. The Miami FC
Record: 13-8-10, 49pts
Playoff Odds: Clinched
Projected Finish: 7th (62%)
Max. Points Available: 58pts
Magic Number: IN
Up Next: vs MEM (10/1)
Miami FC is probably not going to be able to climb to fourth and secure a home playoff game. For better or worse, that means there’s not a lot at stake in Miami’s remaining three regular season matches – at least not for Miami.
Eliminated from Playoff Contention: FC Tulsa, Hartford Athletic, Indy Eleven, Loudoun United FC, Charleston Battery, Atlanta United 2, New York Red Bulls II

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