Two more teams claimed a playoff spot this week, as Rio Grande Valley and Colorado Springs are now guaranteed to still be playing come October. With the playoff race heating up, every game is critical for either seeding position or staying alive in the playoff hunt.
Western Conference Strength of Schedule Projected Standings:
1 (Last Week - 1) Sacramento Republic (52.6)
A very unusual game in Los Angeles saw Sacramento hold on to both their lead in the projections and their undefeated record when playing at Los Dos. An immediate rematch against Los Dos can solidify the spot for Sacramento at the top of the table.
2 (2) Rio Grande Valley Toros (49.8)
The Toros unbeaten streak ended with a surprising home loss to Portland, but with the help of other results through the week, Rio Grande Valley still clinched a spot in the playoffs. Games this week against a Los Angeles side and Orange County side that are both fighting for playoffs will be pivotal in deciding where the Toros land at the top part of the table.
3 (3) Colorado Springs Switchbacks (49.4)
The Switchbacks took advantage of Vancouver going down a man early to take all three points and a secure themselves a guaranteed playoff berth in the West. A visit from a desperate Seattle side is up this week as the Switchbacks try to claim a top seed for the post season.
4 (5) Oklahoma City Energy (46.4)
Now with only two wins in their last ten, a last-minute goal saw the Energy have to settle for a draw instead of taking all three points. With the draw, OKC will now have to wait to stamp their ticket to the USL Playoffs. They have another shot this weekend as they play a hot Swope Park Rangers team.
5 (4) Vancouver Whitecaps 2 (45.0)
The Whitecaps were reduced to ten men early against Colorado Springs, and even though they held on to the shutout through the first half, they were unable to keep it up in the second and ended up with a loss at home. Now facing having to travel on the road for the first round of the playoffs, the Whitecaps will need to gain points fast. A visit from a hot Portland team will give Vancouver a chance to clinch playoffs next weekend.
6 (6) Los Angeles Galaxy II (43.9)
Los Dos were able to get a draw from Sacramento, who they have struggled with at home in the past. Galaxy II will need to pick up points this week to keep any shot at hosting a playoff game, but with matches against Rio Grande Valley and Sacramento, that may be a big feat to pull off.
7 (7) Swope Park Rangers (43.9)
Swope Park continued their charge up the table by easily dispatching a struggling Roughnecks team. A trip to Oklahoma City Energy, in a preview of a potential first round playoff matchup, will see Swope Park make a last minute push to get further up the table.
8 (8) San Antonio FC (39.4)
San Antonio came out flat against Saint Louis and was punished for it. They must now pick up points as the pressure from the playoff hunt teams builds. A win against the Monarchs this week would all but eliminate a rival from the playoffs and keep San Antonio ahead of the rest of the playoff hopefuls.
9 (11) Orange County Blues (39.2)
Orange County went a man up early on the Monarchs and walked away with the game. The Blues have established themselves as the most likely team to challenge San Antonio for the final playoff spot, but they must prove themselves in a tough matchup this week against the Toros.
10 (10) Seattle Sounders 2 (37.3)
Seattle spoiled the Energy's chance at being the fourth team in the USL West to clinch a playoff spot with a goal in the final moments of the game. The game did keep Seattle alive in the playoff hunt, but they will need all three points in Colorado to keep that playoff hope alive.
11 (9) Real Monarchs (36.9)
The Monarchs suffered an unfortunate double whammy, losing Orozco to a red card and injury early in the game, which resulted in Orange County taking all three points. Two games that the Monarchs can win, both against teams still in the hunt, will decide if the they will be playing come October. Anything less than all the points and their season will end this week.
12 (12) Arizona United (35.0)
Arizona, now winless in five, will need to take points this week. Anything with less than three points from Portland and the Monarchs will leave AZU, already a long shot, in need of a miracle to make it to the postseason
13 (13) Saint Louis FC (34.8)
Saint Louis did some damage to San Antonio's playoff hopes while still technically staying alive themselves. Anything but a win this weekend will eliminate Saint Louis from playoff contention, however, as they look to stay alive with some help from other results.
14 (14) Portland Timbers 2 (34.8)
Portland has sprung to life in the last weeks of the season, but it is likely too little too late to do anything but damage the hopes of other teams. The Timbers will look for all points from Arizona midweek before heading to Vancouver in a situation where all points and help are required to keep any hope of a postseason alive.
15 (15) Tulsa Roughnecks (20.9)
The Roughnecks returned to their disappointing season-long form in a shutout loss to Swope Park this week. Although they have been eliminated from playoffs for a few weeks now, Tulsa can deal a major blow to San Antonio's playoff hopes this week.
Easiest Strength of Schedule in 2016 Season: Swope Park Rangers (1.30 points gained/game)
Hardest Strength of Schedule in 2016 Season: Saint Louis FC (1.42 points gained/game)
Only two more teams have punched their ticket to the playoffs, but with a win, or with help from other teams we can see Oklahoma City and Vancouver add their name to the list this week. With results and help, both Los Dos and Swope Park can assure themselves playing come October as well.
How many teams do you think will have clinches the playoffs this coming week? Let us know in the comments below!