With just two weeks until the final match of the 2021 season, much across the USL landscape is yet to be decided. Every playoff race features more squads than will be permitted to advance come the end of the month, while two division crowns remain up for grabs.
On the West Coast, Phoenix Rising remains the only team with a solidified spot in the 2021 postseason. Beneath the league’s leader in points sits San Diego and Orange County, followed by four teams–Los Angeles, Oakland, Tacoma, and Sacramento– who are separated by just three points entering the final two weeks of the season.
With the exception of Oakland, who will take on Sporting KC II the final weekend of the season, every squad has completed their inter-divisional schedule, which could possibly take the playoff race all the way down to the final match of the year.
While Pittsburgh has clinched a playoff spot, final seedingin the Atlantic Division is yet to be determined.
Riverhounds enters the week coming off a huge victory over Atlantic Division Champion Tampa Bay last weekend. The club notched their eighth clean sheet of the season in the victory, and will be looking to put together a similarly dominant performance against a South Florida side they have yet to defeat in three matches this year. With Miami just three points back and Charlotte Independence behind by just two, they’ll need a victory to keep second place in the table as the season winds down.
Miami will be looking to rebound come Saturday. While they sit comfortably in fourth place, a win could catapult them into second. In addition, the club will need to bounce back from a tough 3-2 defeat at the hands of last place Loudon United, who had won just three matches this season. They hold the edge in the season’s series with Pittsburgh, winning 3-2 in their last meeting on October 2.
With the Pacific Division still up for grabs by almost every team, this weekend’s contest between Oakland and Orange County could have a major impact on the playoff race.
Saturday could be a big opportunity for Orange County to hold their place in the Pacific Division. Coming off a big win at home against Phoenix, staying in the win column would be big for them as they look to generate momentum heading into the postseason. They’ve bested Oakland in each of their three meetings this season, conceding just one score to the Bay Area side.
Aftera tough start to the season, Oakland has thrust themselves into the thick of the playoff conversation with a string of positive performances. They’ve taken just four losses since the start of August, and prior to their 1-0 loss to Phoenix last week had been held scoreless just twice in 14 matches dating back to August 14. A win could put them in sole possession of a playoff spot, pending results from around the division.
Another battle for playoff position will take place in the Mountain Division over the weekend.
Behind USL scoring leader Hadji Barry, Switchbacks will be looking to get back in the win column when they welcome Rio Grande Valley on Saturday. A victory would claim them three points for the first time since September 25, as well as move them closer to second place in the division ahead of the postseason.
The Toros need a victory to stay in the playoff picture. While the Mountain Division remains crowded– just nine points separate second place from sixth– a win would keep them in control of their own destiny. They’ve had trouble containing the potent offense of Colorado Springs this season, surrendering eight scores, but recent success on the defensive end against Real Monarchs and New Mexico give them some momentum heading into the final two weeks.