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Race to the Championship Playoffs – Oct. 11-13

By USLChampionship.com Staff, 10/11/19, 10:30AM EDT

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Six tickets left to the postseason, where do things stand going into the weekend’s action?


Nashville SC is the favorite to claim first place in the East after Tuesday's win, but North Carolina could change that on Saturday night. | Photo courtesy Rob Kinnan / North Carolina FC

Thursday night’s draw between El Paso Locomotive FC and Austin Bold FC left each a point from the playoffs, but both sides could join Tuesday night victors Ottawa Fury FC and Wednesday night winner Real Monarchs SLC in the playoffs this weekend depending on how things play out elsewhere in the Western Conference.

With 38 games remaining in the regular season, here’s how the race for seeding – and the final six berths in this year’s bracket – is shaping up.

WESTERN CONFERENCE

1.Phoenix Rising FC
1. Phoenix Rising FC
Record: 23-3-6, 75pts
Playoff Odds Clinched
Projected Final Position: 1st (Clinched)
Max Points Available: 81pts
Magic Number: N/A
Upcoming: vs. SLC (10/12)
With the chance to set both the single-season record for total points and total wins on Saturday night, Rising FC should be ready to go as it hosts Real Monarchs SLC, which will be music to the ears of Sacramento Republic FC and Orange County SC fans keen for their sides to surpass Real for fourth spot in the Western Conference.
2. Fresno FC
2. Fresno FC
Record: 16-8-8, 56pts
Playoff Odds Clinched
Projected Final Position: 2nd (58 percent)
Max Points Available: 62pts
Magic Number: N/A
Upcoming: vs. LA (10/12)
The Foxes were guaranteed a top-four finish after the Monarchs’ victory against Orange County SC on Wednesday night and they could lock up a top-two position this weekend. If they take victory against the LA Galaxy II on home turf and Reno 1868 FC fails to take victory on the road against Silver State Cup rival Las Vegas Lights FC this Saturday night, the No. 2 seed is going to be Fresno’s.
3. Reno 1868 FC
3. Reno 1868 FC
Record: 16-10-6, 54pts
Playoff Odds >Clinched
Projected Final Position: 3rd (53 percent)
Max Points Available: 60pts
Magic Number: N/A
Upcoming: @LV (10/12)
Reno can clinch a home game in the playoffs if it can secure at least a draw against Silver State Cup rival Las Vegas Lights FC on Saturday night at Cashman Field, which would move the side out of reach of Sacramento Republic FC. If it can pick up all three points, however, and get a good result out of the LA Galaxy II on the road against Fresno FC, the chance for a top-two finish could be there for the taking in 1868 FC’s final game of the regular season.
4. Real Monarchs SLC
4. Real Monarchs SLC
Record: 14-10-7, 49pts
Playoff Odds Clinched
Projected Final Position: 4th (49 percent)
Max Points Available: 58pts
Magic Number: N/A
Upcoming: @PHX (10/12)
The Monarchs got the job done against Orange County on Wednesday night, both sealing a third consecutive trip to the postseason and earning a leg up on OCSC and Sacramento Republic FC. Saturday’s visit to Phoenix Rising FC in some ways represents Real’s game in hand on its two main rivals for fourth place, and if it can get something from the contest that would be a serious boost, but with two home games to come after that against Austin Bold FC and Sacramento next week the Monarchs are still going to hold their fate in their hands no matter what happens on Saturday night.
5. Sacramento Republic FC
5. Sacramento Republic FC
Record: 14-12-6, 48pts
Playoff Odds Clinched
Projected Final Position: 5th (30 percent)
Max Points Available: 54pts
Magic Number: N/A
Upcoming: vs. OC (10/12)
Republic FC is down to a 20-percent chance of finishing fourth in the West, but it can turn its final game of the regular season into a winner-plays-home contest with Real Monarchs SLC if it can take victory against Orange County SC on Saturday night at Papa Murphy’s Park. The good news for Sacramento from the week’s action so far was the draw between El Paso Locomotive FC and Austin Bold FC reduced the chances the side will be relegated to the play-in round to 32 percent.
6. Orange County SC
6. Orange County SC
Record: 13-10-9, 48pts
Playoff Odds Clinched
Projected Final Position: 6th (27 percent)
Max Points Available: 54pts
Magic Number: N/A
Upcoming: @SAC (10/12)
Orange County might have come away from Wednesday night’s visit to Real Monarchs SLC feeling a little hard done by after hitting the woodwork twice before the hosts pulled away for victory. There’s still an outside chance of taking fourth, but unless OCSC takes victory on the road against Sacramento Republic FC on Saturday night – a result it’s perfectly capable of pulling off – it’s going to be difficult to overtake the Monarchs from here.
7. Austin Bold FC
7. Austin Bold FC
Record: 13-11-8, 47pts
Playoff Odds >99 percent
Projected Final Position: 8th (22 percent)
Max Points Available: 53pts
Magic Number: 1pt
Upcoming: @SLC (10/16)
Austin Bold FC rallied well to earn a point against El Paso Locomotive FC and it was impossible not to be moved by Andre Lima’s tribute to Promise Isaac after his 81st-minute goal. Bold FC could lock up a playoff place before it takes to the field again, too. Should the Portland Timbers 2 and San Antonio FC play to a draw on Friday night and Las Vegas Lights FC fail to take victory against Reno 1868 FC on Saturday night, Austin is going to be in the postseason field.
8. El Paso Locomotive FC
8. El Paso Locomotive FC
Record: 12-9-11, 47pts
Playoff Odds 98 percent
Projected Final Position: 7th (25 percent)
Max Points Available: 53pts
Magic Number: 1pt
Upcoming: vs. AUS (10/10)
Locomotive FC finds itself in exactly the same position as Austin after their draw on Thursday night, with a draw between the Portland Timbers 2 and San Antonio FC on Friday and a draw or loss by Las Vegas Lights FC on Saturday booking its place in the postseason. If those results don’t come through, however, Locomotive FC can set up a party next Tuesday night when it hosts Portland needing just a point to book its playoff place.
9. LA Galaxy II
9. LA Galaxy II
Record: 11-10-11, 44pts
Playoff Odds 64 percent
Projected Final Position: 10th (34 percent)
Max Points Available: 50pts
Magic Number: 4pts
Upcoming: @FRS (10/12)
The Galaxy II can clinch a playoff place this weekend, but they’re going to have to hit a three-game combination to do so. First. the Portland Timbers 2 and San Antonio FC would need to finish in a draw on Friday night to drop both clubs to a maximum of 45 points, then Las Vegas Lights FC would need to fail to take victory against Reno 1868 FC on Saturday and finally Los Dos would need to win on the road against second-place Fresno FC. The Foxes have been struggling of late, but it could come down to a final game at home against El Paso for the Galaxy II to secure their place in the postseason.
10. New Mexico United
10. New Mexico United
Record: 10-9-12, 42pts
Playoff Odds 82 percent
Projected Final Position: 9th (29 percent)
Max Points Available: 51pts
Magic Number: 6pts
Upcoming: @TUL (10/12)
New Mexico can’t quite clinch a playoff place this weekend thanks to the Portland Timbers 2 and San Antonio FC squaring off, which means they can’t both lose and drop three points in their potential maximum totals. If United takes victory on the road against Tulsa Roughnecks FC, however, it sets itself up for a chance to clinch a playoff place without the need for outside help when it returns home to face Tacoma Defiance next Wednesday night.

11. San Antonio FC
11. San Antonio FC
Record: 11-13-8, 41pts
Playoff Odds 41 percent
Projected Final Position: 11th (37 percent)
Max Points Available: 47pts
Magic Number: 7pts
Upcoming: @POR (10/11)
We’re into must-win territory for both San Antonio FC and the Portland Timbers 2 on Friday night when the sides square off at Providence Park, but it’s still feasible to see a way into the playoffs for SAFC if it can take victory, which would put pressure on the LA Galaxy II in particular to get a result on Saturday night on the road against Fresno FC. With a home game against 17th-place Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC to close the schedule, SAFC isn’t completely out of it yet, but it could be if it takes anything but three points in Portland.
12. Las Vegas Lights FC
12. Las Vegas Lights FC
Record: 11-13-8, 41pts
Playoff Odds 11 percent
Projected Final Position: 12th (40 percent)
Max Points Available: 47pts
Magic Number: 7pts
Upcoming: vs. RNO (10/12)
Saturday night is setting up as the biggest game in Las Vegas Lights FC’s short history. Take victory against Silver State Cup rival Reno 1868 FC and your playoff hopes are going to the final game of the regular season. Suffer defeat, and not only do you get to see your in-state rival parading around Cashman Field with a trophy, but your playoff hopes might be buried as well. This is going to be well worth watching.
13. Portland Timbers 2
13. Portland Timbers 2
Record: 10-13-8, 38pts
Playoff Odds 7 percent
Projected Final Position: 13th (34 percent)
Max Points Available: 47pts
Magic Number: 10pts
Upcoming: vs. SA (10/11)
Portland is effectively facing the same predicament as San Antonio FC on Friday night, except in this case of win or bust, T2 is likely going to have to reel off three consecutive wins to close the season instead of two. Having gone 1-4-0 in its last five games, and holding a 5-7-4 record at home this season, the numbers don’t offer much optimism, but T2 certainly doesn’t feel like it’s going to go away meekly, at least this time out.
14. OKC Energy FC
14. OKC Energy FC
Record: 9-12-11, 38pts
Playoff Odds <1 percent
Projected Final Position: 14th (47 percent)
Max Points Available: 44pts
Magic Number: 10pts
Upcoming: vs. RGV (10/13)
Energy FC might have been eliminated before it kicks off on Sunday afternoon, with the LA Galaxy II needing just a draw in Fresno and New Mexico United a win in Tulsa to officially put them clear of OKC. Even if both of those things don’t happen, the offseason is just around the corner for this side.

Eliminated: Rio Grande Valley FC, Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC, Tacoma Defiance, Tulsa Roughnecks FC

EASTERN CONFERENCE

1. Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC
1. Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC
Record:17-4-11, 62pts
Playoff Odds Clinched
Projected Final Position: 1st (41 percent)
Max Points Available: 68pts
Magic Number: N/A
Upcoming: @STL (10/12)
Pittsburgh saw the pressure to hold onto first place ramped up by Nashville SC’s late game-winner on Tuesday night against Louisville City FC, which means the Hounds might need to win out to stay ahead of NSC over the final two games of the season. That could be a tough task against a Saint Louis side that will be smarting after its own stoppage-time defeat on Wednesday, although with a full week to rest and prepare Pittsburgh could be hopeful of returning with all three points and could even clinch first place with a win and a Nashville SC loss at home to North Carolina on Saturday.
2. Nashville SC
2. Nashville SC
Record:18-7-7, 61pts
Playoff Odds Clinched
Projected Final Position: 1st (54 percent)
Max Points Available: 67pts
Magic Number: N/A
Upcoming: vs. NC (10/12)
Nashville’s late-game heroics struck again against Louisville and in turn moved the side into position to clinch a top-two spot by the end of Saturday night. If it can reverse its defeat on the road to North Carolina FC earlier this season and have Indy Eleven fail to take victory on the road against the Tampa Bay Rowdies, NSC would be sitting clear of the pack on 64 points with a game remaining. NCFC figures to be a challenging opponent, however, as it needs a victory to stay in with a chance of moving out of the play-in round slots and into the top six, which should make for a fascinating contest.
3. Indy Eleven
3. Indy Eleven
Record:18-9-5, 59pts
Playoff Odds Clinched
Projected Final Position: 3rd (33 percent)
Max Points Available: 65pts
Magic Number: N/A
Upcoming: @TBR (10/12)
Indy could still finish in the top two, but in order to do so it’s going to need to shake off its terrible road form from the end of last month against a Tampa Bay Rowdies side that is looking to overtake it for third place in the standings. A loss at Al Lang Stadium could leave the Eleven vulnerable to slipping into fifth place when the New York Red Bulls II return to action next Wednesday night, even with a home game against the Swope Park Rangers to look forward to in their final game of the regular season.
4. New York Red Bulls II
4. New York Red Bulls II
Record:17-9-6, 57pts
Playoff Odds Clinched
Projected Final Position: 4th (32 percent)
Max Points Available: 63pts
Magic Number: N/A
Upcoming: @BHM (10/16)
The Red Bulls II might have been the only side outside of Nashville happy to see Jimmy Ockford’s stoppage-time winner find the net as it left a three-point cushion between themselves and Louisville City FC with two games to go. At the top of New York’s wish list this weekend is likely a decisive result between the Tampa Bay Rowdies and Indy Eleven ahead of its return to action next Wednesday night in Birmingham.
5. Tampa Bay Rowdies
5. Tampa Bay Rowdies
Record:16-7-9, 57pts
Playoff Odds Clinched
Projected Final Position: 5th (36 percent)
Max Points Available: 63pts
Magic Number: N/A
Upcoming: vs. IND (10/12)
The Rowdies are currently pegged for a fifth-place finish according to the odds, but a victory against Indy Eleven on Saturday night would probably make third place the likely destination for Head Coach Neill Collins’ side. After the teams played to a 0-0 draw earlier this season at Lucas Oil Stadium that the Rowdies had the better of, they’ll be hoping the friendly confines of Al Lang Stadium result in a victory that would set up a big road finale in Hartford.
6. Louisville City FC
6. Louisville City FC
Record:15-8-9, 54pts
Playoff Odds Clinched
Projected Final Position: 6th (51 percent)
Max Points Available: 60pts
Magic Number:N/A
Upcoming: vs. SPR (10/12)
Louisville was left to wonder what might have been as the combination of Nashville SC goalkeeper Matt Pickens and defender Forrest Lasso kept out what looked like three sure-fire goals on Tuesday night before NSC’s late winner. Now there’s a bit of pressure coming from NCFC, but Louisville could clinch a top-six finish on Saturday. If LouCity takes victory against the Swope Park Rangers, North Carolina falls in Nashville and Ottawa Fury FC fails to win at home to Bethlehem Steel FC, Louisville will be assured of avoiding the play-in round.
7. North Carolina FC
7. North Carolina FC
Record:15-9-8, 53pts
Playoff Odds Clinched
Projected Final Position: 7th (59 percent)
Max Points Available: 59pts
Magic Number: N/As
Upcoming: @NSH (10/12)
North Carolina will have watched Tuesday night’s game and felt it has a chance to find points on the road this Saturday night against Nashville after the chances that LouCity piled up against its hosts, and it’s going to need to if it’s going to earn a top-six finish and avoid the play-in round. If NCFC suffers defeat, however, it could quickly drop to the No. 8 seed with Ottawa Fury FC in position to jump past it with a win against Bethlehem Steel FC earlier on Saturday afternoon.
8. Ottawa Fury FC
8. Ottawa Fury FC
Record:14-9-9, 51pts
Playoff Odds Clinched
Projected Final Position: 8th (72 percent)
Max Points Available: 57pts
Magic Number: N/A
Upcoming: vs. BST (10/12)
Welcome to the postseason, Ottawa Fury FC. Tuesday night’s last-gasp victory against the Swope Park Rangers clinched things in fine style as Kevin Oliveira scored on his return to Children’s Mercy Park, and now there’s a chance to move up a place in the standings and into the No. 7 seed as Fury FC hosts a Bethlehem Steel FC side that has conceded 18 goals in its last four games. Winning at TD Place on Saturday afternoon would put the pressure on North Carolina FC to earn a result in Nashville later in the day.
9. Saint Louis FC
9. Saint Louis FC
Record:11-12-9, 42pts
Playoff Odds 79 percent
Projected Final Position: 10th (54 percent)
Max Points Available: 51pts
Magic Number: 5pts
Upcoming: vs. PIT (10/12)
Saint Louis gave us a ton of entertainment on Wednesday night at Segra Field, but it was only through the saving grace of Birmingham Legion FC’s big defeat in Hartford that the stoppage-time defeat didn’t severely dent STLFC’s playoff chances. A quick turnaround to host Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC on Saturday night is going to be a challenging one, though, and it could be that Saint Louis goes from Loudoun’s foe in midweek to its supporters on Sunday when United visits the Charleston Battery.
10. Birmingham Legion FC
10. Birmingham Legion FC
Record:11-14-7, 40pts
Playoff Odds 43 percent
Projected Final Position: 11th (64 percent)
Max Points Available: 46pts
Magic Number: 7pts
Upcoming: vs. NY (10/16)
Birmingham’s heavy loss in Hartford had the look of a side whose playoff chances were sliding away. Now, even with a two-game edge in the win column over Charleston, Legion FC has ceded momentum in the playoff race to its South Carolina rival. Birmingham will be hoping for victories by Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC at Saint Louis FC and Loudoun United FC against the Battery as it tries to regroup before the visit of the New York Red Bulls II next Wednesday.

11. Charleston Battery
11. Charleston Battery
Record:9-9-13, 40pts
Playoff Odds 91 percent
Projected Final Position: 9th (68 percent)
Max Points Available: 49pts
Magic Number: 7pts
Upcoming: vs. LDN (10/13)
With all of the strangeness this season has offered the Battery in terms of postponed games and odd outcomes, the simple math of it is that should the Battery go 2-0-1 over its three-game homestand to close the season, a playoff place is theirs. Sunday’s game against Loudoun United FC won’t be a pushover, though, as LUFC showed in its victory against Saint Louis on Wednesday night.
13. Memphis 901 FC
13. Memphis 901 FC
Record:9-15-7, 34pts
Playoff Odds 2 percent
Projected Final Position: 12th (59 percent)
Max Points Available: 43pts
Magic Number: 13pts
Upcoming: vs. CLT (10/12)
Where there is life, there is hope, and Wednesday night’s results sure gave some hope to Memphis as it looks to run the table to close the season and put itself in with a chance of usurping two of the three teams sitting above it in the standings. Anything but a victory against Charlotte on Saturday, though, and 901 FC’s dream would end if Charleston defeats Loudoun United on Sunday.

Eliminated: Atlanta United 2, Charlotte Independence, Loudoun United FC, Bethlehem Steel FC, Hartford Athletic, Swope Park Rangers

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