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Western Conference Strength of Schedule Rankings: Week 26

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With one week to go in the season, we take one final look at how the season is projected to finish.

Indomitable City Soccer/Alex Leguizamo

There is only one week to go in the USL Regular Season, and plenty is still up for grabs.  With any of Sacramento, Colorado Springs and Rio Grande Valley capable of taking home the top overall seed, and only three teams technically eliminated from the playoff hunt, the final game of the season will mean everything to multiple teams.

As the final week kicks off and we all look towards October, what will happen next?  Below is how things are expected to shake out using out Strength of Schedule adjusted projections.

Rankings

1 (Last Week - 1) Sacramento Republic -€” 52.0

A draw against Los Dos in the smoke left Sacramento as the favorite to take the west due to an upcoming match against bottom feeders, Tulsa Roughnecks.  However, they will require help from the Switchbacks to hold the top seed at the end of the season.

2 (3) Colorado Springs Switchbacks -€” 50.8

A late goal against Seattle not only all but sunk the Sounders hope of a playoff berth, but also provided the simplest route to the top seed for Colorado; win and take first. The rest of the West who is within range will be watching the Switchbacks this weekend against Orange County in a game that will decide both the first seed and the eighth seed.

3 (2) Rio Grande Valley Toros -€” 49.7

The Toros took home a second-half winner against Orange County, but lost some ground in the hunt to the Switchbacks.  To do any better than third, even with a win in their regular season finale against San Antonio, the Toros will require either Sacramento or Colorado Springs to stumble.

4 (7) Swope Park Rangers -€” 46.2

A surprise blowout of Oklahoma City on the road propelled Swope Park into fourth place.  With only games against Tulsa and Seattle remaining, the Rangers can claim a first round home playoff match by winning out for the remainder of the season, capping off a late season run.

5 (6) Los Angeles Galaxy II -€” 45.7

A smoky night in Sacramento allowed the Galaxy to take a point, but they are now at the mercy of other teams as they hunt to host a first round playoff game.  All that the Galaxy can do now is take a win in their season finale with the Real Monarchs and hope that everything else breaks their way.

6 (4) Oklahoma City Energy -€” 45.0

The Energy suffered their first loss of the season where they did not concede a second half goal, but have now dropped behind the pace required to host a first round playoff game.  They will need to win their remaining matches against Vancouver and Saint Louis, as well as get some help, to be able to play at home come October.

7 (5) Vancouver Whitecaps 2 -€” 43.3

Suddenly, Vancouver has won only one of their last ten games, and is limping towards the finish line.  They need to respond strongly in their final game of the season against the Energy, or the Whitecaps will be sitting in the seventh seed at the end of the season.

8 (8) San Antonio FC -€” 39.1

San Antonio picked up all three points from Tulsa to ensure themselves the simplest path to the 8th seed in the West: Win and in.  San Antonio will take the final playoff spot if they take a win in Rio Grande Valley.  Anything less than a win and they will require plenty of help from others to stay in the playoffs.

9 (14) Portland Timbers 2 -€” 38.5

Out of nowhere, the Timbers are a playoff contender.  Now having won four in a row, a misstep from San Antonio would allow Portland to claim the final playoff spot with a good win over Arizona after looking like a team who had little chance of making the postseason for all of August.

10 (9) Orange County Blues -€” 38.1

The Blues took a painful and costly loss to the Toros this past weekend.  Now they will require a misstep from San Antonio, and a big win against their hosts, the Switchbacks, or just one season after claiming the top seed in the USL West, the Blues will be watching the playoffs from home.

11 (11) Real Monarchs -€” 37.1

The Monarchs will require a ton of help to make the playoffs after Arizona beat them on the road.  Not only will they require a loss from San Antonio, Portland and Orange County, but the Monarchs will also need to take down Los Dos on the final day of the season.

12 (10) Seattle Sounders 2 -€” 36.1

Seattle is still in the hunt, although only on a technicality.  On top of needing a loss by all other teams in the playoff hunt, they will need to blow out Swope Park, while at the same time San Antonio suffers a blowout loss to Rio Grande Valley.  The late goal loss to the Switchbacks may haunt the Sounders through the entire post season.

13 (12) Arizona United -€” 35.2

Although they have been eliminated from the playoffs, Arizona provided a major wrinkle to the picture by absolutely crippling the Monarchs' chance of playing come October.  They can eliminate Portland from playoff contention this week by taking a win or a draw in Portland this weekend.

14 (13) Saint Louis FC -€” 34.1

Saint Louis is out of the playoffs and is likely looking forward to playing in the East next season, where a 34.1 point projection would leave them as the favorite to take home the eighth seed.  As it stands, all they can do this season is damage the chance for Oklahoma City to host a home game this post season by winning on the road this week.

15 (15) Tulsa Roughnecks -€” 20.2

The season cannot end soon enough for the Roughnecks, who have lost eight of their last ten games.  A double this week against Swope Park and Sacramento, who are both battling for top playoff spots should extend the suffering of Tulsa through the end of the regular season.

Notable:

Easiest Strength of Schedule (Season): Swope Park Rangers

Hardest Strength of Schedule (Season): Saint Louis FC

With the season almost over, there are three big question marks at all ends of the table.

At the very top, Colorado Springs has a more difficult game than Sacramento, but the Switchbacks is poised to take the top seed with a win this weekend.  If both of the favorites should stumble, the Toros remain waiting in the wings with a chance to claim the best seed in the West.

In the middle of the table, it has turned into a battle between Swope Park, Los Angeles and Oklahoma City to see who will be able to get the final spot to guarantee a home playoff match .

At the bottom of the table, San Antonio is currently holding strong in the eighth and final place of the playoffs, but Portland, Orange County and the Monarchs are eyeing them hungrily and waiting for any type of a misstep on the final day of the season.

Who will take the top seed?  Who will take the final seed?  We will find out this weekend, but let us know your guesses in the comments below!