Eastern Conference Playoff Picture 8/29/18
This week was another week filled with games, in fact there were quite a number of midweek games in addition to the regular Saturday slate of games. With the number of games there was the ability for some teams to make big moves though in the end not much changed in the playoff race. I will say that I am writing this as the Louisville and Toronto game is finishing up so while Toronto took the win and Nashville and Richmond are still playing those two results are not taken into consideration when writing this week's blog. As always let's take a look at the top three story-lines this week did produce:
FCC clinching possibilities
The playoff race narrows - NYRBII through Penn in the PP table and OTT, NASH, and NC in the points table
What fate looms for the lower table teams.
Let's begin with the big story, FC Cincinnati has the chance this Saturday to be there first squad to clinch a playoff spot. With their two victories this past week their magic number dropped to 2, with their needed points only 4. FCC had s number of playoff playoff clinching possibilities, but before I look at what can happen let's look at what needs to happen. A quick refresher, a team will clinch a playoff spot when their total points sit higher than the 9th place team's points possible. FCC sits on 57 points and there are three teams hovering around the 9th place spot in the points possible that that have bearing on whether or not Cincinnati can clinch. Here are the three possibilities:
FCC win AND a NYRBII tie or loss
FCC win AND a NCFC tie or loss
FCC win AND a Bethlehem tie or loss.
Will Cincinnati be able to clinch this weekend?
Looking at the race for 8th there are few interesting things to look at. First and foremost, Bethlehem keeps winning which puts them in 9th on the points possible table (60 PP) and 5th on the true table (42 pts.). That's a wide spread however it has been closing with their strong showing over the past month and a half. Also on the true table Ottawa, Nashville, and North Carolina are close with 35, 35, and 34 points respectively. While NYRBII sit two points clear it is important to note the Baby Bulls and Ottawa do have games in hand compared to their competitors.
On the points possible table some of the same teams are in the fight but there are some big differences in where the teams stand due to the discrepancy of games played. NYRBII and North Carolina sit tied for 7th with 61 points possible and Bethlehem and Penn FC have 60 and 59, respectively. Ottawa sits down in 11th with 54 PP and Nashville sit in 6th with 65 PP. Where will these five teams fall as the fight for the playoffs continue, especially with the the teams looking to make up games in the last part of the season.
Taking a quick look at the bottom of the table. Toronto, even with their recent surge of wins can only drop 8 points. While they are technically mathematically still alive they will need an incredible run to make it work. In addition to TFCII, ATLUTD2 (13 points to drop), and Richmond (14 points to drop) are rather close to being eliminated. Though Charlotte sits in 11th and look to be in the playoff hunt they only can drop 19 points due to their games played. With the possibility to lose out on 6 points each weekend we could see a number of teams eliminated in the next few weeks.
What does this mean for FCC? With wins over ATLUTD2 and Tampa this week the Orange and Blue maintained their unbeaten streak and set themselves up nicely for a chance to clinch a playoff game while in front of the home crowd. Even with them being close to clinching a playoff game they are also write close to clinching a home playoff game, they only sit 11 points away from a first round home game.
Games to Watch:
FC Cincinnati v. Pittsburgh, Saturday: FCC needs a win for the chance to clinch the playoffs. I've already discussed all the possibilities above. This is a big 6 point game for Pittsburgh. A win here would see them close the gap on FCC, especially with 2 games in hand.
NYRBII v. Ottawa, Friday: This game is a huge 6 pointer for both teams. A win by either team would see space between them and 8th place. A tie keeps the two teams separated by oy 2 points and opens up the possibility of Nashville and NCFC jamming up the race in the final month and a half.
Bethlehem v. Penn FC, Sunday: FCC's playoff clinch could come from Penn gaining a positive result here. While the game can influence the top spot it also holds importance as a 6 point game between the 9th and 10th place team on the points possible table. Bethlehem now only needs 19 points to clinch a playoff spot so while a loss is not great, it would not be a death sentence. Penn though would need a win here to move them up the true table into more of a playoff place.
Until next week,