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USL Championship Race to the Playoffs – Oct. 4

By NICHOLAS MURRAY - nicholas.murray@uslsoccer.com, 10/03/23, 6:05PM EDT

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Key Western Conference matchups will shape picture ahead of penultimate weekend


El Paso Locomotive FC and San Diego Loyal SC square off on Wednesday night in a crucial game in the Western Conference playoff race. | Photo courtesy Ben Nichols / San Diego Loyal SC

Welcome to the latest edition of the USL Championship Race to the Playoffs, in which we provide weekly information on where each team stands in their bid to reach the 2023 USL Championship Playoffs in October.

Orange County SC can clinch its place in the postseason as it plays host to Oakland Roots SC on Wednesday night, while Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC could also book its place without seeing action pending Rio Grande Valley FC’s result, making all three of the night’s games key to the Western Conference’s playoff picture.

Here are two games to keep an eye on, and where everyone stands.

GAMES TO WATCH

Wednesday, October 4

El Paso Locomotive FC will try to solidify its place above the playoff line after a major comeback victory in its last outing, while San Diego Loyal SC will try to put pressure on the top two with its game in hand on San Antonio FC in a crucial game in the Borderplex. The teams below the playoff line – Monterey Bay F.C., New Mexico United and Rio Grande Valley FC – will all be hoping for help from SD Loyal, meanwhile, as El Paso could move at least five points ahead of ninth-placed Monterey Bay if it takes a second consecutive home win.

Wednesday, October 4
10:00 PM
Stadium IconChampionship Soccer Stadium

Orange County SC only needs one point to clinch its postseason berth, but it will be aiming for all three points to put itself in position to take a top-four finish and home contest to kick off the postseason ahead of Phoenix Rising FC as it plays its game in hand over the Arizona side. Oakland Roots SC, however, will also be aiming for all three points as it tries to create separation from the teams below the playoff line, and looks for a confidence boost after going winless in its last six outings.

STANDINGS

Western

1. Sacramento Republic FC
Record: 16-6-10, 58pts

Playoffs Odds: Clinched

Projected Finish: 1st (95%)
Max Points Available: 64pts

Magic Number: N/A

Up Next: at RGV (10/7)
+
Sacramento Republic FC put itself in position to clinch top spot in the Western Conference on Saturday night after its comfortable victory against Las Vegas Lights FC last time out. Holding a three-point lead and the head-to-head tiebreaker over San Antonio FC, a win would secure first place in the West. Republic FC will also be hoping the Tampa Bay Rowdies can beat Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC on Saturday, which would keep the door open for the Players’ Shield on the final day of the season.
2. San Antonio FC
Record: 14-5-13, 55pts

Playoffs Odds: Clinched

Projected Finish: 2nd (80%)
Max Points Available: 61pts

Magic Number:N/A

Up Next: at OC (10/7)
+
San Antonio FC is going to need a lot of help to take first place after its draw with Oakland Roots SC given Sacramento Republic FC holds the head-to-head tiebreaker between the sides, but it will be rooting for Roots SC to take points off Orange County SC on Wednesday night before SAFC heads to Championship Soccer Stadium on Saturday night. An OCSC win would set up a fascinating rematch from last month’s opening game of the series between the sides this season.
3. San Diego Loyal SC
Record: 14-9-8, 50pts

Playoffs Odds: Clinched

Projected Finish: 3rd (47%)
Max Points Available: 59pts

Magic Number: N/A

Up Next: at ELP (10/4), vs. OAK (10/7)
+
San Diego Loyal SC earned its postseason berth against Monterey Bay F.C. last time out behind Ronaldo Damus’ hat trick but would do Monterey Bay and the other teams below the line a major favor if it can take victory on the road against El Paso Locomotive FC. A win for the visitors at Southwest University Park would move San Diego within two points of San Antonio FC for second place, and closer to securing a top-four finish and home playoff game.
4. Phoenix Rising FC
Record: 12-8-12, 48pts

Playoffs Odds: Clinched

Projected Finish: 6th (34%)
Max Points Available: 54pts

Magic Number: N/A

Up Next: vs. NM (10/7)
+
Emil Cuello’s stunning finish sent Phoenix Rising FC back to the playoffs against Orange County SC on Saturday night, but now it will have to wait and see if it gets help to stay in the top four on Wednesday night. Rising FC supporters will be hoping for El Paso Locomotive FC and Oakland Roots SC to take victory against San Diego Loyal SC and Orange County in their games in hand.
5. Orange County SC
Record:14-11-6, 48pts

Playoffs Odds: >99%

Projected Finish: 4th (34%)
Max Points Available: 57pts

Magic Number: 1

Up Next: vs. OAK (10/4), vs. SA
+
Orange County can clinch its postseason berth on Wednesday night with a win, a draw, or even a loss should Rio Grande Valley FC fail to take victory against Hartford Athletic earlier in the night. The hosts will be looking to break a four-game winless streak as they face Oakland Roots SC, however, which would significantly boost their chances of ending in the top four.

Orange County SC Playoff Clinching Scenario
  • - Orange County SC wins vs. Oakland Roots SC, moves to 51 points
  • - Orange County moves clear of Rio Grande Valley FC on maximum available total of 48pts
  • -Orange County SC draws vs. Oakland Roots SC, moves to 49 points
  • - Orange County moves clear of Rio Grande Valley FC on maximum available total of 48pts
  • - Orange County SC loses vs. Oakland Roots SC, remains on 48pts
  • - AND Rio Grande Valley FC draws/loses to Hartford Athletic, maximum available total drops to 46/45pts
6. Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC
Record: 14-13-5, 47pts

Playoffs Odds: >99%

Projected Finish: 6th (36%)
Max Points Available: 53pts

Magic Number: 2

Up Next:at LV (10/7)
+
Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC isn’t in action on Wednesday night but can still clinch a playoff berth if Rio Grande Valley FC fails to take victory against Hartford Athletic as it already holds the head-to-head tiebreaker with Monterey Bay F.C. with a +3-goal differential after the sides split the series. If the Toros win, the Switchbacks will face Las Vegas Lights FC on Saturday to close out the job.

Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC Clinching Scenario
  • - Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC is idle and remains on 47pts
  • - Rio Grande Valley FC draws/loses vs. Hartford Athletic, maximum available total drops to 46/45pts
  • - Switchbacks sit clear of Monterey Bay F.C. (maximum available total: 47) holding head-to-head tiebreaker (1-1-0, +3GD).
7. El Paso Locomotive FC
Record: 12-12-7, 43pts

Playoffs Odds: 81%

Projected Finish: 7th (41%)
Max Points Available: 52pts

Magic Number: 6

Up Next: vs. SD (10/4), at MEM (10/7)
+
El Paso Locomotive FC was arguably the biggest winner of the teams around the playoff line, boosting its playoff chances by more than 20 percent by defeating the Charleston Battery thanks to results elsewhere. Locomotive FC can’t quite clinch a playoff berth on Wednesday night due to Monterey Bay F.C. not being in action, but it would move to the verge of securing a playoff berth if it takes all three points at home to San Diego Loyal SC.
8. Oakland Roots SC
Record: 11-11-9, 42pts

Playoffs Odds: 69%

Projected Finish: 8th (34%)
Max Points Available: 51pts

Magic Number: 7

Up Next: at OC (10/4), at SD (10/7)
+
Oakland Roots SC was so close to knocking off San Antonio FC on Saturday night, but thanks to Monterey Bay F.C.’s loss it remains above the playoff line and favored to reach the playoffs. This is going to be a tricky week on the road, but a win at Orange County SC would give Roots SC a four-point cushion with two games to go. Anyone would like the odds of securing a playoff berth in that scenario.
9. Monterey Bay F.C.
Record: 11-13-8, 41pts

Playoffs Odds: 28%

Projected Finish: 9th (31%)
Max Points Available: 47pts

Magic Number: N/A

Up Next: at BHM (10/8)
+
Monterey Bay F.C. and its fans will be all-in behind San Diego Loyal SC and Orange County SC on Wednesday night to keep El Paso Locomotive FC and Oakland Roots SC from widening their advantage going into the weekend. The club’s current three-game winless run couldn’t have come at a less opportune moment.
10. New Mexico United
Record: 11-14-7, 40pts

Playoffs Odds: 16%

Projected Finish: 10th (34%)
Max Points Available: 46pts

Magic Number: N/A

Up Next: at PHX (10/7)
+
New Mexico United got the win it had to have against Louisville City FC on Saturday, but still needs plenty of help to make the postseason field. Defeats for both El Paso Locomotive FC and Oakland Roots SC on Wednesday night are the next stop in that pathway before a huge clash at Phoenix Rising FC this weekend.
11. Rio Grande Valley FC
Record: 9-10-12, 39pts

Playoffs Odds: 12%

Projected Finish: 11th (57%)
Max Points Available: 48pts

Magic Number: N/A

Up Next: at HFD (10/4), vs. SAC (10/7)
+
Thanks to Taylor Davila’s remarkable late equalizer against Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC, the Toros have the highest ceiling when it comes to available points of the teams below the playoff line. They’re going to have to win on the road against Hartford Athletic and hope Oakland Roots SC and El Paso Locomotive FC stumble for it to open the door a little wider, though.

Eliminated: Las Vegas Lights FC


Eastern

1. Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC
Record: 18-5-9, 63pts

Playoffs Odds: Cliched

Projected Finish: 1st (70%)
Max Points Available: 69pts

Magic Number: N/A

Up Next: at TBR (10/7)
+
Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC can clinch the Players’ Shield on Saturday night if it can take victory on the road against the Tampa Bay Rowdies, which would also lock up first place in the Eastern Conference and homefield advantage throughout the playoffs. A draw would also lock Pittsburgh into the No. 1 seed in the East, as it would hold the head-to-head tiebreaker over Tampa Bay thanks to its victory when the sides met at Highmark Stadium in August, while keeping the door open for Sacramento Republic FC in the Players’ Shield race.


Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC Players’ Shield Scenario
  • - Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC wins vs. Tampa Bay Rowdies, moves to 66pts
  • - Pittsburgh moves clear of Tampa Bay, maximum available points drops to 63
  • - Pittsburgh moves clear of Sacramento Republic FC, maximum available points at 64
2. Tampa Bay Rowdies
Record: 18-8-6, 60pts

Playoffs Odds: Clinched

Projected Finish: 2nd (61%)
Max Points Available: 66pts

Magic Number: N/A

Up Next: vs. PIT (10/7)
+
The Tampa Bay Rowdies have clinched at least one home playoff game but must win against Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC on Saturday night to have a chance to take top spot in the Eastern Conference and win the Players’ Shield on the final weekend of the season. A draw would ensure Pittsburgh holds the No. 1 seed in the East due to the head-to-head tiebreaker between the teams.
3. Charleston Battery
Record: 16-8-8, 56pts

Playoffs Odds: Clinched

Projected Finish: 3rd (91%)
Max Points Available: 62pts

Magic Number: N/A

Up Next: vs. MIA (10/7)
+
The Charleston Battery clinched a top-three finish – and a first home playoff game since 2018 – despite falling against El Paso Locomotive FC thanks to both Memphis 901 FC and Louisville City FC also losing last weekend. With Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC out of reach in first, the Battery will be hoping for the Hounds to defeat the Tampa Bay Rowdies to allow them to close within a point of second with a win against Miami FC on Saturday. A victory against Miami would also be very welcome for Detroit City FC and FC Tulsa fans.
4. Memphis 901 FC
Record: 13-9-10, 49pts

Playoffs Odds: Clinched

Projected Finish: 5th (58%)
Max Points Available: 55pts

Magic Number: N/A

Up Next: vs. ELP (10/7)
+
Memphis 901 FC remained in fourth place despite its defeat to rival Birmingham Legion FC as Louisville City FC also lost on the road at New Mexico United. With two games to go, this is the highest 901 FC can finish, but it could clinch a top-four finish on Saturday night it takes victory against El Paso Locomotive FC and LouCity loses at home to Hartford Athletic with 901 FC holding the head-to-head tiebreaker over Louisville. If Memphis does defeat El Paso, it would also do a major favor to the teams below the playoff line in the West.

Memphis Home Playoff Game Clinching Scenario
  • - Memphis 901 FC wins vs. El Paso Locomotive FC, moves to 52pts
  • AND Louisville City FC loses vs. Hartford Athletic, maximum available points drops to 52pts – Memphis holds head-to-head tiebreaker (1-0-1)
5. Louisville City FC
Record: 14-11-7, 49pts

Playoffs Odds: Clinched

Projected Finish: 4th (67%)
Max Points Available: 55pts

Magic Number: N/A

Up Next: vs. HFD (10/7)
+
Louisville City FC missed out on a big opportunity after suffering defeat at New Mexico United, but hosting Hartford Athletic this weekend it gets the easier assignment on paper than Memphis 901 FC – which hosts playoff challenger El Paso Locomotive FC – and potentially another chance to jump into fourth position. All three points and a 901 FC draw or loss to El Paso Locomotive FC would put LouCity in position to clinch a home playoff game in its final game at home to the Tampa Bay Rowdies.
6. Indy Eleven
Record: 12-11-9, 45pts

Playoffs Odds: Clinched

Projected Finish: 6th (66%)
Max Points Available: 51pts

Magic Number: N/A

Up Next: at TUL (10/7)
+
Indy Eleven is back in the postseason after its victory against Detroit City FC last weekend, and now gets to face another team chasing the playoffs at FC Tulsa this Saturday. A top-four finish is probably out of reach – a Louisville City FC victory at home to Hartford Athletic on Saturday would ensure Indy is in the lower-half of the seeding in the East – but both Miami FC and Detroit City FC will be hoping the Boys in Blue can win on the road.
7. Birmingham Legion FC
Record: 13-15-4, 43pts

Playoffs Odds: >99%

Projected Finish: 7th (77%)
Max Points Available: 49pts

Magic Number: 1

Up Next: vs. MB (10/8)
+
Birmingham Legion FC could clinch its postseason berth before kicking off against Monterey Bay F.C. on Sunday evening if Detroit City FC drops points on the road against Loudoun United FC or Miami FC drops points away at the Charleston Battery. One point away from a fifth consecutive playoff berth, though, Monterey Bay will arrive highly motivated for all three points to keep their postseason chances alive.

Birmingham Legion FC Clinching Scenarios
  • - Birmingham Legion FC wins vs. Monterey Bay F.C., moves to 46pts
  • - Birmingham Legion FC moves clear of Detroit City FC on maximum available points of 43
  • - Birmingham Legion FC draws vs. Monterey Bay F.C., moves to 44pts
  • - Birmingham Legion FC moves clear of Detroit City FC on maximum available points of 43
  • - Birmingham Legion FC loses vs. Monterey Bay F.C., remains on 43pts
  • - AND Detroit City FC draws/loses vs. Loudoun United FC, maximum available points drops to 41/40
  • - OR Miami FC draws/loses vs. Charleston Battery, maximum available points drops to 42/41
8. Miami FC
Record: 10-14-8, 38pts

Playoffs Odds: 38%

Projected Finish: 9th (39%)
Max Points Available: 44pts

Magic Number: 6

Up Next: at CHS (10/7)
+
Miami FC made it above the playoff line with its third consecutive victory this past weekend at home to Hartford Athletic. Staying there is going to be a tougher proposition on paper, however, with the South Florida side headed on the road to face the Charleston Battery and Sacramento Republic FC to close the regular season. Miami can clinch a playoff berth with a win in Charleston, however, should Detroit City FC lose on the road against Loudoun United FC and FC Tulsa fail to take victory at home against Indy Eleven.

Miami FC Clinching Scenario
  • - Miami FC wins vs. Charleston Battery, moves to 41pts
  • -AND Detroit City FC loses vs. Loudoun United FC, maximum available points drops to 40pts
  • -AND FC Tulsa draws/loses vs. Indy Eleven, maximum available points drops to 40/39pts
9. Detroit City FC
Record: 10-15-7, 37pts

Playoffs Odds: 37%

Projected Finish: 8th (37%)
Max Points Available: 43pts

Magic Number: N/A

Up Next: at LDN (10/7)
+
Detroit City FC dropped below the playoff line after its defeat to Indy Eleven on Saturday night, but is still rate even odds with Miami FC to make the postseason in the end. A lot of that is based on this weekend’s matchups, where DCFC visits mathematically eliminated Loudoun United FC and Miami has to face the playoff-bound Charleston Battery. Le Rouge hold the head-to-head tiebreaker over Miami as well and could put themselves in a strong position with a win. A loss, however, and it could all come to an end before the final weekend of the season.
10. FC Tulsa
Record: 9-14-9, 36pts

Playoffs Odds: 25%

Projected Finish: 10th (47%)
Max Points Available: 42pts

Magic Number: N/A

Up Next: vs. IND (10/7)
+
Tulsa’s consecutive defeats has put the pressure on Saturday’s home game against Indy Eleven. Take victory and the side could be back above the playoff line and would take the playoff race to the final day of the regular season while holding the head-to-head tiebreakers over both Miami FC and Detroit City FC. A defeat – and a win for either Miami FC or Detroit City FC – would eliminate Tulsa from postseason contention.

Eliminated: Loudoun United FC, Hartford Athletic

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