Even with just two weeks remaining in the 2021 season, a lot still needs to be decided before the regular season comes to a close. One division remains up for grabs while the number of squads looking to stave off playoff elimination has grown with every passing match day. This week, a number of key matchups could further solidify the playoff picture across USL Championship.
Results across the league on Saturday made San Diego Loyal SC the second club to clinch a playoff spot in the Pacific Division. However, Landon Donovan’s squad will need two more positive results to keep ahead of Orange County SC, who could take over the second spot in the table with a victory over last-place Las Vegas on Saturday evening.
LA Galaxy II’s loss to Charleston and a scoreless draw between Oakland Roots SC and Tacoma Defiance in the Pacific Northwest on Wednesday tightened the screws even more on the Pacific Division postseason race. With Orange County securing the division’s third playoff spot and Los Dos, Sacramento, Oakland and Tacoma now all having two games left, the last two match weeks of the regular season will be must-see soccer as the division completes its playoff picture.
A pair of matchups in the Mountain Division this weekend will likely determine who goes and who doesn’t.
It’s do-or-die for Rio Grande Valley, who following a loss to Colorado Springs sits two points back of fourth in the table with two matches to play. A victory would give them the tiebreaker in head-to-head points should things not be decided after their final contest on October 30. A loss would eliminate the Toros, leaving them five points back going into their final contest.
New Mexico could clinch a playoff spot with a win, but the results of Austin Bold FC’s matches this week could have a major impact on their chances. United currently sits in a tie for fourth, but has the tiebreaker over the Texas club. With no games in hand, however, three points every time they take the field is a must-have.
With just one spot left in the Central Division, three clubs are all grappling for the last postseason berth.
Tulsa has not just one, but two games in hand on Indy, giving the Oklahoma side control over their foes’ playoff destiny. A victory will eliminate Indy Eleven, as well as set Tulsa up well for what could be a winner-take-all contest with in-state rival OKC Energy during the season’s final weekend. To get there, they’ll need to turn things around on the defensive end, where they have conceded eight scores in a six-match winless streak.
Indy Eleven, much like RGV in the Mountain Division, is in a win-or-go-home scenario. Six points back of Tulsa in the table, they’ll need to win out and see their foes drop each of their remaining contests to have a chance to qualify by tiebreaker. They have momentum on their side after taking three points from Louisville City FC, knocking the Kentucky side another point back of first-place Birmingham.
The final contest between the two clubs this season could very well dictate who raises the Central Division crown.
After dropping three points to Indy Eleven last week, Louisville City fell another point behind of Birmingham Legion FC in the table, where just one point had kept them from a share of first place. With a win needed to keep their division title hopes alive, Louisville will be looking for their high flying offense to get back on track after being shut out for just the third time this season.
Memphis has everything to gain from a win over Louisville on Saturday. Just four points up on a FC Tulsa side who plays an extra match next week, keeping their standing in third place will be difficult. Issuing Louisville their season-high third straight defeat and stripping them of their Division title chances gives them a lot to play for, even though they’ve already solidified a playoff berth. They have been one of the league’s hottest teams in October, claiming four wins while netting 14 scores in five matches.
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