Eastern Conference Playoff Picture 9/6/18
Happy Thursday everyone!
We’re coming at you a day later than normal but we’re here nonetheless so get ready for some playoff predictions! I think we’ve finally seen it all, from a playoff spot clinched to a top team losing big to Toronto at home and everything else. This year the USL Eastern conference has been filled with excitement, fun, big wins, big loses, late game-winners, and more. Just take a look at how the playoffs have evolved over the past two months. Let’s take a look at this week’s top storylines:
FCC Clinched plus their dominance of the East
Indy to Bethlehem - only separated by 6 points possible
Do we finally see the death of TFCII’s playoff chances? Scenarios
Big news, especially here in Cincinnati, as FC Cincinnati has become the first team to clinch a berth in this year’s USL playoffs. With the big win over Pittsburgh this Saturday and a loss by North Carolina FC, FCC’s points stand at 60 with NCFC (9th place team) sitting on 58 points possible which officially puts FCC in the postseason for the third straight season.
With their 16 game unbeaten streak the boys have given themselves a bit of a lead at the top of the table which you can see by looking at the home game and first place column. Now for the Orange and Blue the next big milestone would be hosting a home playoff game and they are only 4 points away from clinching that home game. Correction since originally published: Thanks to Pride member Cael Sutherland for pointing out an overlooked tiebreaker. Even with an Indy Eleven win last night FCC CAN clinch a home game this week. With an FCC win on Saturday they would be level on points with Nashville’s 63 potential points, which normally would mean they could not clinch; however the win would mean FCC would have more wins that Nashville can earn. Games won is the first tiebreaker in for the USL playoff standings so while FCC and Nashville could end up tied on 63 points, FCC would carry 4th place based on wins throughout the season. There are still two scenarios for FCC to clinch a home game this week, they work out as follows:
FCC win on Saturday
FCC tie on Saturday
Indy loss on Wednesday
Nashville tie or loss on Saturday
This next stat proves how dominate FCC has been over the past 100+ days. If you look at the math FCC is as close to clinching first in the East as Louisville is to clinching a playoff spot. That’s right, depending on how the next few weeks go FCC could clinch first place before we know who the second playoff team will be.
Who is going to join FCC in the playoffs? That battle is tight, only 6 points separate Indy (45 pts., 63 PP) sitting in 5th place of the points possible table from 10th place Bethlehem (42 pts., 57 PP). When you move over to the true table these six teams (Indy, Bethlehem, NYRBII, Nashville, Penn FC, and NCFC) are separated by 13 points. What is interesting here though is Penn FC sits in 12th place of the true table but they have 4 games in hand over Bethlehem. If look at their place in the points possible table, Penn FC sit on 59 PP in the 7th place of the playoffs. With a number of these teams playing each other as the playoffs approach, be on the lookout for big movers and shakers.
For the last big storyline, we need to look all the way down at the bottom of the table to TFCII. Even with their relatively decent form, including their 4-1 win against Louisville last week, Toronto FC II has only been able to gather a total of 12 points this year. With their abysmal start to the season, many people might be surprised TFCII has not already been eliminated. But fear not, Toronto can only drop 2 points before they are eliminated from the playoff picture. What does that mean for TFCII? Well in order to maintain eligibility they would need to win every game from here on out while every team above them need to lose their games. When you look at this week’s games there are a couple of ways we can see Toronto officially eliminated.
Toronto loss or tie
With Toronto’s game against Ottawa tonight we may as well have our first eliminated team by the time you wake up tomorrow.
What does this mean for FCC?
As mentioned above FCC has already clinched their playoff berth and are on the verge of clinching a home playoff game. Still it’s too early to let off the gas pedal as the club plays rivals Louisville City this Saturday. This game, a battle between #1 and #2, could make things interesting in the race for the top spot. Still even with a Lousiville win FCC would maintain a 7 point gap in the points possible table. Looking ahead at the schedule FCC has a mix of playoff and non-playoff teams. There will be tough games against Louisville, Pittsburgh, Nashville and Indy, with only one of the games (Indy) being at home. The rest of the regular season will be a great tune-up for the playoffs.
Games to Watch:
Louisville City v. FC Cincinnati, Saturday: A battle between #1 and # 2 could see FCC clinch a home playoff game or prove to be a big six pointer if Louisville wins. This could be a good look at a late game playoff matchup. Louisville is in the midst of a seeding battle right now with Pittsburgh, Charleston, and Indy only 2 points behind, a win by Louisville could see them put some space between the trailing teams while a loss could see them leapfrogged in the table depending on the Pittsburgh and Charleston games this weekend.
Toronto v. Ottawa, Thursday: As talked about above, a win by Ottawa would knockout TFCII with a win or a tie. Good news for Toronto though as Ottawa have lost their last 3 games. For Ottawa to maintain a shot at the playoffs they need to string together some wins, they currently sit 3 points out of playoff spots in the true table and sit way down in 12th on the points possible table.
North Carolina FC v. Nashville SC, Saturday: This is a battle between two teams deeply entrenched in the playoff battle. A win by Nashville and they put more space between them and 8th place Ottawa in the true table and keeps them solidly in 6th in the points possible table. However, an NCFC win could move them into a playoff spot in the points possible table, depending on some other results. A Nashville loss would still keep them in the playoff tables, however, a North Carolina loss would put them level on points possible with Tampa Bay.
Edited 9/6/18 at 1:30pm