With its sixth consecutive win, FC Cincinnati continues it dominance of the Eastern Conference and extends it’s unbeaten streak to 17 matches. Having secured a playoff spot for the post-season last week, the Orange and Blue take it a step further and secure a playoff spot at Nippert stadium in the first round of the playoffs.
Who’s In and Who’s Out?
This week, we see the first team eliminated from the post-season. Toronto FC II is currently only capable of a maximum of 36 points which is not enough to overtake any of the top eight teams. In addition, we see that Richmond is sitting precariously close to elimination as well. The Kickers play Ottawa on Saturday, and anything short of a win will eliminate Richmond from the playoffs as well. No team besides Cincinnati has earned enough points to secure a playoff spot.
Looking at points per match played (Pts/MP) each team earns, it’s possible to predict how teams could end their season if they continue their current form. Based on current form, the post season bracket would look as follows:
Points per Match Played
Points per match played is also useful for tracking whether other teams have the ability to overtake Cincinnati in the standings. One mechanism is to calculate the points per match played required to overtake the Orange and Blue if they earn zero points in their remaining games or an average of one point in their remaining games.
Points per match played also demonstrates how Cincinnati secured a home playoff berth. Currently, there are only three teams (Pittsburgh, Charleston, Louisville) that can overtake FCC, even if they lose all their remaining games. For the other 12 teams, it would require more than three points per match to overtake the Orange and Blue. With only three teams capable of overtaking FC Cincinnati, they are guaranteed to finish the season in the top four. Even then, all three teams would have to finish their seasons with average points per match played much higher than they’ve achieved in the season so far.
Another game to watch on Saturday will be Pittsburgh taking on Louisville. With both teams capable of knocking FCC out of the top spot, one or both teams will drop points this weekend and further strengthen Cincinnati’s position.
Realistically of course, FC Cincinnati is not going to lose every remaining game. Adjusting the points per match played to assume FCC averages one point per remaining match, then only one team (Pittsburgh) is in a position to overtake them. The Riverhounds would have to average 2.86 points per game or better for the remainder of the season. Of course, FCC may not perform that well for its remaining games, but it shows how strong its current position is and how likely they are to end up in the top position in the Eastern Conference in the post-season.
Taking a look at the Western Conference, Phoenix currently sits, with 71 maximum points, the highest achievable. 72 points would secure the Supporters Shield for the Orange and Blue. With six games remaining and averaging over two points per match played, Cincinnati should be able to lock in the best record in the USL for this season.