Already Clinched: The Rhinos can finish no worse than 3rd place, guaranteeing at least one playoff game will be hosted at Sahlen’s stadium.
Still Up for Grabs: Rochester controls its own destiny with respect to winning the regular season title in the USL Eastern Conference.
It is virtually inevitable that the Rhinos will secure at least the 2nd seed. The next point gained by Rochester or failed to be gained by Charlotte will give the Rhinos a bye in the first round of the playoffs.
Control Own Destiny
Louisville’s next victory clinches a playoff spot for the expansion side. First place is still within reach if LCFC goes on a run and the Rhinos stumble.
Root Against: Rochester (and apparently the Riverbats).
Root For: Everyone that plays Rochester (even Saint Louis).
Despite the fact that Charlotte currently sits in 8th place and on the wrong side of the red line, the Independence are the only club apart from Louisville that could still catch Rochester and claim the top spot in the east. It would require an undefeated run over Charlotte’s final 7 matches, an epic collapse from Rochester (Charlotte owns the head-to-head tiebreaker with the Rhinos), and major missteps from Louisville. If the Independence does win out, the worst the club could finish is 3rd place.
An equally unlikely set of unfortunate events could still see Charlotte at or near the bottom of the table come season’s end.
Like Charlotte, Harrisburg (NOT Harrisburg City) currently sits outside of a playoff spot. Also like Charlotte, Harrisburg still has enough games in hand to overtake most of the clubs in front of it. The very best the City Islanders can mathematically achieve is 2nd place. If Harrisburg wins the remainder of its matches, the worst the club can finish is 4th place.
The worst that the City Islanders can finish is 11th place.
If the Battery continues its recent run of form, the franchise could find itself finishing as low as 11th place. If Charleston gets back to its winning ways, 2nd place could be achieved with some help.
As many as six other clubs could finish with point totals as high as the maximum that Charleston could earn, but not if Charleston wins out. Victories against Richmond, Harrisburg, and Charlotte would prevent any of those three clubs from catching the Battery if Charleston runs the table.
The Kickers sit in a situation very similar to that of the Battery. Matches against Charleston and Harrisburg keep them in control of their own destiny.
New York is the third team currently tied for 3rd with the potential to end with 48 points by season’s end (see Charleston & Richmond). The fact that Charleston, Richmond, and Harrisburg still have matches against one another keeps New York in charge of its own fate.
Pittsburgh has faltered a bit lately, and the club has dropped to the last spot above the red line. The handy chart at the top of this article shows you that there are 7 clubs that can finish with more points than the Riverhounds if they all win out. What the chart does not show you is that not all of the clubs can win out. Richmond and Charleston play each other this weekend, and Pittsburgh has a match remaining with Harrisburg. Thus, the Riverhounds cling to control over their own destiny and would finish no worse than 4th place by winning the rest of its matches.
Need Help/Almost Eliminated
Saint Louis has had trouble scoring goals with consistency this season. Consequently, the expansion side is going to have trouble making the playoffs.
Montreal is perhaps the hottest team in the second half of the USL season, but it won’t be enough to overcome the slow start to the season unless a lot of things break right for the improved club.
Toronto is now on the edge of elimination. A Toronto loss this weekend, coupled with a Pittsburgh victory, would be enough to dash any playoff hopes.
If Wilmington gets hot and wins the remaining games on its schedule, the Hammerheads will finish the season with 31 points. Harrisburg currently sits in the seventh position with 31 points. The City Islanders own the head-to-head tiebreaker with the Hammerheads on the strength of a season series sweep. Alas, Wilmington can finish no better than 8th place in the USL East.