Eastern Conference Playoff Picture 8/22/18
Last Week's Playoff Picture
In case you were not aware, the Eastern Conference this week was huge for some teams, looking at you FC Cincinnati and Bethlehem and not so huge for other, that’s right nearly every team who played on Saturday. This week we saw a couple of midweek games and an almost full slate Saturday. We also had a game this Tuesday NYRBII v. NCFC yesterday but I needed to get this out to my editor (thanks for all you do Kevin!) before that game started so I’ll be sure to cover that game next week as the result will more than likely have a had a big impact on the playoff race.
This week’s big three story-lines:
The entire conference dropped points on Saturday (almost).
Bethlehem keeps winning.
The race for 8th.
On a day with multiple games with playoff implications, one result stood above the rest. Call me a homer (that’s what I’m supposed to be) but FC Cincinnati’s win over Charleston might have been their most important win of the year. This is not just because of the #1 v. #3 match-up but also because every team in the East, except for the nearly out of it Richmond Kickers, dropped points with a loss or tie. So what does this mean? Well FCC now sits on 51 pts., with 81 PP. With their ties on Saturday the closest teams, Pittsburgh and Louisville are sitting on 77 and 76 points possible, respectively. While these two teams are in no real danger of losing out on the playoffs they cannot continue to drop points lest they risk losing out on a home playoff game.
Speaking of teams needing to keep winning… Despite the fact no one could watch it, Bethlehem did in fact win their game against Toronto on Thursday. Last week I brought up Bethlehem’s discrepancy of points and points possible in contrast to the teams around them (36 pts. and 60 PP). This week they did what they needed to do. They currently sit in 5th place, tied with Indy on points but you need to look at the second tie-breaker, goal difference, to break the tie. While the Steel’s schedule is going to be a bit lighter than other teams, their main goal for their remaining games is to keep the pressure on by winning. Obvious, I know, but it’s even more important as 5 of their 8 remaining games are against teams in playoff contention.
Two of those Bethlehem games are against Ottawa and another against Nashville, two teams tied on points for the 7th place along with NYRBII. Those three teams are tied with 35 points in the true table. The way it stands Ottawa earn the 7th place through their wins and NYRBII edges Nashville on goal differential. However, with their games in hand, Nashville sits in 6th on the points possible table (68 PP) , NYRBII sit in 7th (65 PP) and Ottawa sits in 9th (62 PP). Oh and don’t forget North Carolina who currently sits 10th (30 pts., 63 PP) and Indy in 6th (36 pts., 69 PP).Between 5th and 10th place you have a spread of only 6 points and 9 points possible. To say the race for 8th is close would be an understatement.
The Charleston win was already mentioned but that win gave FC Cincinnati more than just a solid lead in the East. The biggest storyline for the Orange and Blue is this week’s win has lowered FCC’s magic number to 4. A full week lies ahead for FCC as they will play their first away games since July 14, first at ATLUTD2 on Wednesday and then Tampa Bay on Saturday. ATLUTD2 (16 pts., 52 PP), not really in playoff contention, may try to play spoiler for the rest of the season while Tampa Bay (27 pts., 60 PP) needs to string together a few wins to put their name right back into playoff contention.
Fun Fact: With FCC’s win and Toronto’s loss, FCC now has more points, 51, that Toronto can theoretically earn, 45.
In this week’s games to watch:
Bethlehem vs. Ottawa, Wednesday: Both of these teams will need a win to keep pace with the other playoff contenders as they have played more games than their surrounding competitors. These two teams have already been touched on above however, taking a look at their current positions on the table a Steel win puts them in 5th, only a point behind Louisville and a win by the Fury would put them 2 points clear of Bethlehem and into 5th place. While a win would be best for either squad, they would both stay afloat with a tie.
NCFC vs. Charlotte, Saturday: While NCFC is deeply in the battle for 8th, sitting 10th right now, their points possible position places them in 8th. Obviously dropping points would not be ideal for NCFC. With the crazy battle for 8th don’t count out Charlotte, they currently sit on 29 points, one behind North Carolina. The Independence do sit on 24 games played as compared to the 23 games by most everyone else around them, the pressure is on them to win. A six point win here by either team could prove to be the difference come playoff time.
Nashville vs. Bethlehem, Saturday: Okay, seriously, how are Bethlehem still playing so many games? You’ve heard it already a few times so let’s all say it together,Bethlehem needs a win to maintain pressure! Now that we have that out of the way, Nashville has a few games to make up sitting on 23 games played. So while they currently sit in 9th, they sit in 6th on the points possible table. While it would be a stretch for them to host a home playoff game (oh, how they have fallen in the past month and a half) they are still looking good for making the playoffs and a win here could see them jump Bethlehem if the Steel lose their game earlier in the week.
Until next time,