The third-placed Charleston Battery host fourth-placed Memphis 901 FC in one of this weekend's key games in the Eastern Conference playoff race. | Photo courtesy Memphis 901 FC
Welcome to the first edition of the USL Championship Race to the Playoffs this campaign, where we’ll provide weekly information on where each team stands in their bid to reach the 2023 USL Championship Playoffs in October.
As the weekend arrives, we’re within range of the first of 16 playoff berths being claimed, with Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC having a chance to book its sixth consecutive postseason trip if it can take victory in one of the weekend’s high-profile contests and have results elsewhere fall its way.
Here are four games to keep an eye on, and where everyone stands.
The Florida rivals meet with both in need of victories for differing reasons. Thanks to FC Tulsa’s loss on Wednesday night, Miami is now in control of its playoff fate with one game more remaining. A win here could move Miami above the playoff line, but more importantly it would remain with a higher potential points ceiling than any of its rivals for eighth. The Rowdies, meanwhile, will look to complete as season sweep of its in-state rival as it pursues top spot in the Eastern Conference. Tampa Bay is six points behind Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC, and with three games in hand it has the highest available points total in the East. That only matters if the Rowdies convert those games in hand into victories, however.
There is a five-point gap separating the third-placed Charleston Battery and fourth-placed Memphis 901 FC going into their clash this weekend, but with 901 FC holding two games in hand this game could be pivotal as to which side ends up in the top three at the end of the season. Memphis took a 3-2 victory on home turf when these teams met for the first time this season, putting the pressure on the Battery to return the favor and add to its cushion between the sides.
Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC could become the first team to clinch a playoff berth this weekend. The challenge? To do so, the Hounds would have to beat San Antonio FC on its home turf. Pittsburgh moved its Magic Number to 5 on Wednesday after a thrilling 4-3 win against Hartford Athletic, but with San Antonio also in need of a win to keep the pressure on Sacramento Republic FC at the top of the West this should be a great contest. One subplot to watch – with head-to-head the first tiebreaker, it could be a factor should these sides advance to the USL Championship Final in November.
With Sacramento Republic FC returning to Hughes Stadium for a celebration of its 10th anniversary season, this was always going to be a big game on the schedule. That Orange County SC is coming in on a six-game winning streak to push into contention for a home playoff game has only added to that anticipation as these teams meet for the 25th time in the Championship’s regular season. Sacramento needs a win to ensure it remains ahead of San Antonio FC in first place out West, while OCSC will be looking for another three points to not only set a club record, but also keep its drive for the top three moving forward.
Tag(s): Features San Antonio FC CO Spring Switchbacks Orange County SC Phoenix Rising FC Rio Grande Valley FC Sacramento Republic FC FC Tulsa Charleston Battery 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 Miami FC Oakland Roots SC Detroit City FC Monterey Bay F.C.