Playoff Picture: 7/25/18
As the season creeps along the playoff picture is both becoming clearer and murkier, depending on where your team falls on the table. As always I will take a look at the week from FCC and then follow up with an overall picture of the Eastern Conference. This week’s top stories are:
The pack leaders
The crazy middle
Where is FC Cincinnati? With two big wins this week, FCC sits clearly on top of the Conference with 44 points. That puts them 9 points clear of second place Charleston. The Orange and Blue’s ten-game unbeaten streak has provided us fans a bit of excitement, in no small part due to our defense. Over these past ten games we’ve been treated to a defense giving up only 7 goals to 21 goals scored, 4 of which came from our CB’s this week!
Although we have a large lead in the points column, the trailing teams do have games in-hand. The Espanyol game this Saturday will give some of these teams the chance to pick up a few games, this time next week we will have a more accurate picture of how the top of the table can pan out. Speaking of the top of the table, let’s take a closer look at the pack leaders.
The top four teams are beginning to separate themselves a bit from the rest of the pack, but only by a little. Right now Cincinnati, Charleston, Pittsburgh, and Louisville 12 points apart, however when you look at each team’s points possible you will see these four teams are only separated by 6 points. As mentioned above this week’s international friendly will give teams a chance to pick up a few games. The next time we see FCC play we will see Charleston level on games and Pittsburgh and Louisville pick up two games.
Before I leave talk of the top four teams, I want to point out the two new numbers which fans of the top four will be interested in. Taking a look at the spreadsheet, you will see I have added points to clinch home-field advantage and to clinch first place. I will not make a lot of commentary on these new fields yet but I’ll begin to mention them more as they become a little easier to predict.
Next let’s look at the rest of the playoff field. Let’s just say this week gave us some interesting results. Tampa Bay and Ottawa both earned wins which helped them move up in the standings, Ottawa into a playoff spot and Tampa just two points shy. But the battle for the last four playoff spots is as hot as ever! Looking at the points possible, teams 5 to 15 are only 12 points apart. Three of these teams (Nashville, Charlotte, and Ottawa) are tied for 7th on current points, with Ottawa taking the 7th place spot due to their 8 wins over the other’s 7. This playoff battle is sure to be fun for neutral fans but nerve-wracking for fans of the teams involved.
As you’ll see this week I said teams 5-15 were close to the playoff picture. That’s right, Atlanta picked up a draw which, thanks to the Richmond draw and a few losses from key teams like Nashville, Bethlehem, and Penn FC, have kept them close to the pack. Still, having three games in hand doesn’t mean it’s going to be easy for ATLUTD2 to earn the playoff berth. Even if their best case scenario worked out they would be 2 points back from the 8th place spot. Will they be able to put together a late season run to keep them in the playoff picture?
Before I go, Toronto is still nearing playoff elimination. With a couple of two game weeks coming up, will they be able to save face or will they end up going down in the history books?
See you next time!