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Playoff Picture: The Race Tightens

Tonight, FC Cincinnati take on the Charlotte Independence, and with only 3 games remaining for the Orange and Blue, the playoff race is getting very tight.

This is the second article, in this series, where I look at the playoff picture and how it looks from the perspective of an FCC fan. I am not trying to generate lots of statistics and complicated data. I’ll use a few statistics that are simple and minimal.

Instead, I prefer a pragmatic approach to this. What can our team do? What do they need to do?

Who’s In and Who’s Out?

Let’s take a look at what has changed since last week. As before, we’ll keep this simple and will not look at which teams play each other and how that affects maximum points possible. The table below shows the current standings including an extra column for maximum points if the teams win every remaining game.

No changes to teams who have clinched the playoffs. Louisville and Charlotte clinched playoff spots previously. Charleston remains one point away from a guaranteed playoff position. Louisville, however, has secured a home playoff game in the first round as they are guaranteed a top-four finish. Rochester can catch them on points but will lose the tiebreaker of games won.

Joining Toronto FC II in the list of teams that will miss the playoffs is the Richmond Kickers. Their max points of 38 are only enough to get them to 9th position. That leaves 11 teams still in the hunt for the playoffs.

Making the Playoffs

FC Cincinnati remains in 6th place and is in the playoffs. Looking behind them at teams trying to knock them out, there is a still good news. Only 2 teams have “games in hand.” Bethlehem and New York both have one extra game to play. Assuming they win that extra game, they will both pass Cincinnati in the standings and knock FCC down to 8th place. That is good enough to make the playoffs.

This means the Orange & Blue’s fate is still 100% in their own hands. Coach Koch’s squad aren’t relying on teams to fail or fall or to defeat other teams. They just need to play as well as all of the teams below us.

That said, tonight’s game is going to be a challenge. Cincinnati plays the #2 team in the East, and they really need to pick up a win to ensure they stay in control of their destiny.

A Playoff Game at Nippert

The next big question everyone wants to know is if Cincinnati can get a home playoff game. The answer is yes, but the odds aren’t very good and they don’t have control over the situation. Other teams will have to fall to make it happen.

To get a home playoff game, FCC has to finish in the top four. Cincinnati needs a minimum of 2 wins to catch up to fourth place Tampa Bay, and that assumes Tampa doesn’t pick up any points along the way. The reality is that even winning all three remaining games only gives us a slight chance of securing a home playoff game in the first round.

As an FCC fan, my time is best spent focusing on just making the playoffs and getting as high a position as possible to maybe get a home playoff game in a later round.

What Can We Do?

With all of that in mind, let’s focus on tonight, cheer on the Orange and Blue and give our team our support. Show up at watch parties and get active on social media. The team is watching and the support of this city and its fans DO make a difference. Tell them you believe. Tell them you’re with them.

The post season potential is good and once you’re in the playoffs, any team can win. Another cup run is within our grasp.


@billwwolf for @CincySoccerTalk

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