With only 5 weeks remaining in the season, the USL Eastern Conference Playoffs are starting to shape up. Week 22 was the first week where we saw teams secure their ticket to the playoffs. Cincinnati Soccer Talk plans to publish a weekly story detailing who’s secured their spot in the playoffs and who’s been eliminated.
On Friday, the Baby Bulls played LouCity at home and defeated them 1-0. The playoff implications for this are huge for the Orange and Blue. FCC now sits 5 points behind Louisville with 3 games in hand. A second place finish for Cincinnati would guarantee home games for the first 2 legs of the playoff bracket and would give home field advantage for the Eastern Conference Final as well unless they were playing New York.
The next 3 games are tough. We play 6th place Rochester, 1st place New York, and 5th place Charlotte in the span of about a week. But another way to look at it is that 2 ties and a win would give us 5 points and put us even with LCFC. With all things being equal then, the remaining 5 games of the season are all against teams in bottom half of table. It really makes our prospects of a second place finish look good.
Of the 6 teams at the bottom of the table vying for playoff spots, Wilmington has the largest potential with a max of 46 points possible. With 50 points in the standings, the Baby Bulls can no longer be knocked out of the playoffs. Ironically, with Bethlehem Steel falling to Montreal this week, LouCity, is also safely in the playoffs with 47 points.
No teams have yet been statistically eliminated. A loss from Montreal would have ended their playoff potential but not only did they help Louisville by defeating Bethlehem but they also kept themselves in the race and escaped elimination.
Upcoming games week 23:
This coming week, Cincinnati has two games. 6 points would secure them a spot in the playoffs. Wilmington also plays two games this week. If they drop points, then FCC’s entry into the playoffs is even more easily assured.
Pittsburgh, Montreal and Toronto all sit close to elimination. A loss from Montreal or a win from Orlando ends the Canadians’ playoff chances. Pittsburgh and Toronto both play 2 games this coming week so poor results coupled with Orlando picking up points, could eliminate them as well.