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Around the Leagues: Playoff pushes draw closer domestically

By Emile Guzman, 09/21/21, 5:00PM PDT

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Premier League and MLS action dominate great week around the game

Another week of soccer around the world has continued following the international break for World Cup qualifying earlier in the month. As September has continued, the Premier League table has begun to take shape while the playoff push in domestic leagues has begun to intensify as the fall months draw closer. 

United Soccer League

With the push for playoffs on the mind of nearly every USL club, divisional matchups are becoming increasingly crucial as the final weeks of the season approach. 

Since the start of September, Tampa Bay has been on a hot streak, giving them distance between Miami and Pittsburgh in the Atlantic. Unbeaten since August 6, the Florida side has won six in a row and eight of their last nine. The Atlantic Division is not yet theirs, however, as Pittsburgh sits just five points back.

Phoenix remains on top of the Pacific Division, and entering week 22 holds a 16-point lead over second place San Diego. Behind them however sit five clubs all within ten points of each other- meaning a string of wins for Sacramento, Tacoma, San Diego, Oakland, or Orange County could seriously shake things up. With a number of important divisional matches yet to be played, it’s possible the Pacific Division turns into the most interesting down the stretch in USL. 

Premier League

After five matches played, the Premier League table is starting to take shape. Three clubs remain unbeaten through the season’s first month, with Chelsea, Liverpool, Manchester United, and Brighton occupying the top four. Three of those clubs- Chelsea, Liverpool, and Manchester, remain the lone undefeated on the table thus far, while Chelsea and Liverpool join Manchester City as the only three who have yet to concede a second score this season. 

Following two consecutive losses coming out of the international break, Tottenham Hotspur will have an advantageous matchup to get back on track this week. They’ll take on an Arsenal squad that has struggled so far this season, even coming off their first two wins of the season.

Norwich City’s struggles out of the gate have continued. Week 5 action saw the club fall 3-1 to Watford in what was their 15th consecutive loss in the Premier League dating to the 2019-2020 season. The Canaries have a steep climb back from their tough start, but with a number of clubs struggling to gain their footing early in the season, a string of victories could quickly put them back in the mix.

USWNT

Team USA’s women round up their last of two friendlies with Paraguay tomorrow night. Wednesday’s meeting in Cincinnati comes on the heels of a 9-0 win on Cleveland last week that saw Carli Lloyd net five scores- tying Alex Morgan’s record from the 2019 world cup for goals in a single match. 

Following their match with Paraguay, the USWNT will have a month break before they return to action in October with two fixtures against South Korea.

MLS

The west has become rather wild in recent weeks, as Sporting KC has upended Seattle for the top spot by a single point. A lot will ride on their Sunday meeting in Kansas City, which is the first of their two remaining contests this season. Colorado Rapids aren’t far behind either club, sitting just two points back of a first place tie after draws with Vancouver and Portland. 

Philadelphia put themselves in playoff position with a 3-1 victory over Orlando City last week. Since winning two of three to close out August, Orlando has slid in September, dropping three straight since a 3-2 win over Columbus Crew. 

The Eastern Conference remains controlled by New England Revolution, who is unbeaten in their last three matches and have lost just once since July 3. A tough matchup with Orlando awaits them this weekend, especially with an additional contest this week on Wednesday in Chicago. 

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