Welcome to the USL Championship’s News & Notes, where we preview the final week of action as the three remaining playoff spots in the Western Conference will finally be handed out. We’ll also take a look at seeding scenarios in the Eastern Conference.
Plus, we’ll recognize some of the cool moments that happened around the USL Championship recently.
More on that and your usual look ahead to upcoming individual player landmarks across the league and the Week 32 Discipline Report
THREE SPOTS LEFT WITH SIX TEAMS STILL ALIVE
There are now just four days remaining in the USL Championship regular season and we still have three unclaimed playoff spots in the Western Conference. San Antonio FC, San Diego Loyal SC, Colorado Springs
Switchbacks FC and Sacramento Republic FC are all confirmed to be in the playoff field, but who will join them?
FiveThirtyEight suggests it’ll be Rio Grande Valley FC, New Mexico United and Oakland Roots SC, with the trio of El Paso Locomotive FC, Las Vegas Lights FC and Monterey Bay F.C. left out in the cold.
El Paso, Monterey Bay and New Mexico will all be in action Wednesday night with the possibility of eliminations or clinches looming. If El Paso loses its season finale on the road against the Rowdies and New Mexico beats LA Galaxy II tonight, Locomotive FC will be eliminated. If New Mexico loses, Locomotive FC will remain in contention until Saturday, regardless of its result tonight.
Rio Grande Valley FC and Oakland Roots SC both have the benefit of knowing that with wins Saturday against Monterey Bay F.C. and Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC, respectively, they will clinch playoff berths. Anything short of victory leaves them sweating out the results of other teams.
Las Vegas remains in the race but needs a win against the Galaxy on Saturday and help from others to reach the postseason. If Las Vegas makes it, it could potentially do so with a Goal Difference of -9, which would be the worst goal difference for a playoff team since Birmingham’s -16 mark in 2019.
Monterey Bay F.C. has the longest odds of reaching the playoffs, needing to beat FC Tulsa tonight and RGV FC on Saturday, plus getting a handful of other results to go their way.
There is a scenario where RGV FC, Oakland, El Paso, New Mexico and Monterey Bay all end up on 46 points. If Las Vegas ends on 47 points ahead of the five-way tie on 46 points, the final three playoff spots will go to Las Vegas, Rio Grande Valley FC and New Mexico United based on tiebreakers. If Las Vegas finishes on 45 or 44 points, below the five-way tie, the final three playoff spots will go to Rio Grande Valley FC, New Mexico United and Monterey Bay F.C.
BIRMINGHAM GOES FOR FOURTH
Birmingham Legion FC controls its fate for the No. 4 seed in the Eastern Conference and the home game in the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals that comes with it. If Legion FC defeats the Indy Eleven tonight, Birmingham will open the playoffs at home. If Birmingham drops points it opens the door for others.
If there’s a three-way tie on 55 points between Birmingham, Pittsburgh and Detroit, tiebreakers would give the 4 seed would to Detroit, the 5 seed to Pittsburgh, the 6 seed to Birmingham and Miami would take the 7 seed on 53 points.
If there’s a three-way tie on 55 points between Birmingham, Pittsburgh and Miami, tiebreakers would give the 4 seed to Pittsburgh, the 5 seed to Birmingham, the 6 seed to Miami and Detroit would take the 7 seed on 54 points.
SAN DIEGO SEES A NEW FACE ARRIVE, AN OLD FACE PREPARE TO DEPART
San Diego Loyal SC demonstrated the circle of life Saturday as a teenager made his professional debut and a 30-year-old made his final regular season appearance at Torero Stadium.
Loyal SC was locked into the No. 2 seed in the Western Conference before kickoff, so Landon Donovan had the freedom to rotate his squad and experiment without pressure for a result. He gave a first professional start to goalkeeper Duran Ferree, who signed a professional contract with the club as a 15-year-old in September but has since turned 16.
Ferree joined the Loyal Select Academy program last year and now has his professional debut under his belt. He conceded three goals against a talented New Mexico United attack but helped his team to a 3-3 draw in a match he’ll surely remember for the rest of his life.
At the other end of the career spectrum, San Diego midfielder Jack Metcalf announced his impending retirement from professional soccer and made his final regular season home appearance for San Diego. Metcalf joined the Liverpool academy at the age of 10 and has been in San Diego since Loyal SC’s inaugural season in 2020. When Metcalf departed Saturday’s match, a video tribute was played and some of Metcalf’s loved ones joined him on the field for a jersey presentation.
INDIVIDUAL AWARD RACES REMAIN TIGHT
The 2022 USL Championship Golden Boot winner will be decided this week. Orange County SC’s Milan Iloski leads the race with 22 goals heading into the weekend. Memphis 901 FC’s Phillip Goodrum and Oakland’s Ottar Magnus Karlsson are still in the running with 20 and 19 goals, respectively.
Orage County faces a San Antonio FC team that has allowed the fewest goals in the league this year, so Iloski faces the difficult task to extend his lead. Goodrum and Memphis will be in Tulsa to take on the eighth-worst defense in the league. Karlsson would need a hat trick against an above-average Pittsburgh team to have a chance.
As for the Golden Glove award, San Antonio FC’s Jordan Farr and Louisville City FC’s Kyle Morton remain in a dead heat at 0.74 goals-against-average. San Antonio faces Orange County SC this weekend while Louisville will host Hartford Athletic.
Approaching 150 regular-season appearances
Wes Charpie (LOU) – 143
Approaching 100 regular-season appearances
Jake Areman (TBR) – 98
Joe Kuzminsky (CHS) – 97
Adrian Diz Pe (TUL) – 97
Approaching 15,000 regular-season minutes
Lebo Moloto (TUL) – 14,900
Kyle Greig (TBR) – 14,849
Approaching 10,000 regular-season minutes
Thomas Vancaeyezeele (TBR)– 9,905
Approaching 75 regular season goals
Cameron Lancaster (LOU) – 73
Approaching 50 regular season goals
Chris Wehan (NM) – 49
Alex Dixon (PIT) – 48
Lucky Mkosana (TBR) – 48
Approaching 30 regular season assists
Oscar Jimenez (LOU) – 29
Lewis Hilton (TBR) – 29
Justin Portillo (NM) – 28
Niall McCabe (LOU) – 27
Approaching 250 regular season saves
Jeff Caldwell (COS) – 246
Approaching 60 regular-season shutouts
Evan Newton (ELP) – 58
Approaching 40 regular-season shutouts
Alex Tambakis (NM) – 39
Matt VanOekel (BHM) – 38
Approaching 30 regular-season shutouts
Joe Kuzminsky (CHS) – 29
CJ Cochran (TBR) – 29
TAMPA, Fla. – The following is the USL Championship’s discipline report for Week 32 of the 2022 USL Championship season:
El Paso Locomotive FC’s Yuma has been suspended for one game for violent conduct after review from the Independent Disciplinary Panel for his actions against Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC on October 8. Yuma will be unavailable for selection against the Tampa Bay Rowdies on October 12.
Phoenix Rising FC’s Greg Hurst has been suspended for one game after receiving a red card for violent conduct in Phoenix’s match against Rio Grande Valley FC on October 8. Hurst will be unavailable for selection against Atlanta United 2 on October 15.
Memphis 901 FC’s Leston Paul received his 8th caution of the season in Memphis’s match against Rio Grande Valley FC on October 5 and was suspended one game for caution accumulation. Paul served his suspension against New York Red Bulls II on October 9 and is now eligible for selection.
Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC’s Arturo Ordoñez has been suspended one game after receiving two yellow cards and a red card in Pittsburgh’s match against Sacramento Republic FC on October 9. Ordoñez will be unavailable for selection October 15 against Oakland Roots SC.
The following players enter the upcoming matches one caution away from a yellow card accumulation suspension for their eighth yellow card of the season, though accumulation suspensions do not carry over to the playoffs. They would be enforced at the start of next season. Here is the breakdown per club:
· Birmingham Legion FC (1): Enzo Martinez
· Detroit City FC (1): Abdoulaye Diop
· El Paso Locomotive FC (1): Matthew Bahner
· Indy Eleven (1): Manuel Arteaga
· LA Galaxy II (1): Remi Cabral
· Las Vegas Lights FC (1): Daniel Crisosomo
· Rio Grande Valley FC (1): Akeem Ward
· Sacramento Republic FC (1): Douglas Martinez Jr.
· San Diego Loyal SC (2): Kyle Adams, Jack Blake
· Tampa Bay (1): Aaron Guillen
The following players enter the upcoming matches one caution away from a yellow card accumulation suspension for their 11th yellow card of the season, though accumulation suspensions do not carry over to the playoffs. They would be enforced at the start of next season. Here is the breakdown per club:
· Birmingham Legion FC (1): Mikey Lopez
· Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC (1): Cameron Lindley
· El Paso Locomotive FC (1): Eder Borelli
· Hartford Athletic (1): Younes Boudadi
· Indy Eleven (1): Sam Brown
· Las Vegas Lights FC (1): Alejandro Lara
· San Antonio FC (1): Victor Giro
Tag(s): San Antonio FC CO Spring Switchbacks LA Galaxy II Orange County SC Phoenix Rising FC Rio Grande Valley FC Sacramento Republic FC FC Tulsa Charleston Battery Louisville City FC New York Red Bulls II Pittsburgh Riverhounds Tampa Bay Rowdies Las Vegas Lights FC Birmingham Legion FC Atlanta United 2 Indy Eleven Memphis 901 FC El Paso Locomotive FC Jordan Farr New Mexico United Loudoun United FC Hartford Athletic San Diego Loyal SC Miami FC Phillip Goodrum Milan Iloski Oakland Roots SC Detroit City FC Monterey Bay F.C.