With its seventh consecutive win, FC Cincinnati continues its dominance of the Eastern Conference and extends its unbeaten streak to 18 matches. Having secured a home playoff game for the first round of the postseason, the Orange and Blue take it a step further this week and secure a top two finish for the season.
Who’s In and Who’s Out?
Last week, Toronto FC II dropped out of playoff contention. This week, the Richmond Kickers joined Toronto after losing to Ottawa. Atlanta is still holding onto hope, but if it loses its match to North Carolina FC on Friday, and New York earns points against Charlotte on Saturday, then Atlanta will be the third team to miss the postseason. The remainder of the field remains tight with eight teams separated by only seven points.
Cincinnati is still the only team to have secured a post season playoff berth. Looking at the maximum points possible, only Pittsburgh can earn more points than FC Cincinnati. Louisville and Charleston can tie FCC with 66 points, but neither can achieve the 20 wins that Cincinnati have earned. Since number of wins is the first USL tie-breaker, this means the Orange and Blue are secure finishing in the top two.
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:
Nashville lost their game with Tampa this week, dropping in the standings. On current form, Nashville would be the first team FCC would see in the playoffs.
What to Watch
On Friday, Atlanta United II take on North Carolina FC. A loss for Atlanta sets the stage for its elimination from the playoffs.
On Saturday, FC Cincinnati plays Penn FC, and Pittsburgh takes on Indy Eleven. Cincinnati only needs to earn two more points to secure the top finish in the Eastern Conference. A win for Cincinnati would earn it the top of the Eastern table, but anything short of a win for Pittsburgh would have the same effect.
Taking a look at the Western Conference, Phoenix currently sits in second place, but with a game in hand. The extra game positions them to achieve the highest number of points, with 71 maximum points. Cincinnati has earned 66 points. Seventy-two points, or two more wins, would secure the Supporters Shield for the Orange and Blue. With five games remaining and averaging more than two points per match played, Cincinnati should be able to lock in the best record in the USL for this season.