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USL Eastern Conference Playoff Scenarios

Seven seeds in flux, four teams fighting for three remaining playoff spots: The race for the Eastern Conference playoffs is reaching an exciting conclusion!

MLS: Toronto FC at Orlando City SC
Could OCB sneak into the playoff field?
Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

As all but one team in the Eastern Conference have one match remaining in the USL season - Harrisburg wrapped up their season last weekend - seven seeds are in flux and four teams are fighting for three playoff spots. The final week of the regular season will prove to be an exciting one. Let’s look at what each team must do in their final fixture to find themselves in their best, or worst, possible seed.

1. Louisville City

Current Points: 59

Max Points: 62

Match Remaining: Saturday, vs Richmond Kickers

Best Seed Possible: 1st

How it can happen:

  • Louisville wrapped up the #1 seed in the conference a few weeks ago and look to be on the fast track to a third consecutive Eastern Conference final.

Worst Seed Possible: 1st

How it can happen:

N/A

Strength of Schedule Projected: 61.5 projected points (1st)

Elo Rating: 1179 (1st)

2. Charleston Battery

Current Points: 51

Max Points: 54

Match Remaining: Saturday, @ Charlotte

Best Seed Possible: 2nd

How it can happen:

  • Charleston has arguably the easiest route of the teams not currently locked into a seed. If the Battery win on Saturday, they’ll lock up the #2 seed in the East – but then again, as we saw on Tuesday night with the USMNT, just winning is easier said than done. #Bitter.
  • Battery can still wrap up the #2 seed if Tampa, Rochester draw their respective fixtures, and Charlotte doesn’t make up the +6 goal differential advantage that the Battery hold over the Independence, in a loss.

Worst Seed Possible: 5th

How it can happen:

  • Battery lose by +6 goals on Saturday to Charlotte, paired with wins by Rochester and Tampa.

Strength of Schedule Projected: 52.4 projected points (2nd)

Elo Rating: 1148 (2nd)

3. Tampa Bay Rowdies

Current Points: 50

Max Points: 53

Match Remaining: Thursday, @ Orlando City B

Best Seed Possible: 2nd

How it can happen:

  • Win versus Orlando City B on Thursday night and hope Charleston and Rochester both lose on Saturday.

Worst Seed Possible: 5th

How it can happen:

  • Lose on Thursday night, then have Charlotte and Rochester win their respective Saturday fixtures.

Strength of Schedule Projected: 51.6 projected points (3rd)

Elo Rating: 1143 (3rd)

4. Rochester Rhinos

Current Points: 50

Max Points: 53

Match Remaining: Saturday, vs New York Red Bulls II

Best Seed Possible: 2nd

How it can happen:

  • Win on Saturday. Charleston and Tampa should lose their respective matches as well.

Worst Seed Possible: 5th

How it can happen:

  • Lose on Saturday. Charlotte beats Charleston and they will pass the Rhinos in the table.

Strength of Schedule Projected: 51.5 projected points (4th)

Elo Rating: 1135 (5th)

5. Charlotte Independence

Current Points: 48

Max Points: 51

Match Remaining: Saturday, vs Charleston

Best Seed Possible: 2nd

How it can happen:

  • Win by 6+ goals on Saturday vs Charleston, while Rochester and Tampa must lose their matches.

Worst Seed Possible: 5th

How it can happen:

  • If Charlotte loses or draws on Saturday, they will remain in fifth, not being able to fall any lower.

Strength of Schedule Projected: 49.2 projected points (5th)

Elo Rating: 1138 (4th)

6. New York Red Bulls II

Current Points: 44

Max Points: 47

Match Remaining: Saturday, @ New York Red Bulls II

Best Seed Possible: 6th

How it can happen:

  • If NYRB II win, they’ll lock up the #6 seed in the conference.
  • The defending champs can hold onto the sixth seed as well if Bethlehem, Cincinnati and Orlando City B, all lose their matches.

Worst Seed Possible: 9th

How it can happen:

  • Lose versus Rochester on Saturday. Then, Bethlehem, Cincinnati and Orlando City B would all have to win their matches.

Strength of Schedule Projected: 45.2 projected points (7th)

Elo Rating: 1097 (9th)

7. Bethlehem Steel FC

Current Points: 43

Max Points: 46

Match Remaining: Sunday, vs Saint Louis FC

Best Seed Possible: 6th

How it can happen:

  • Win their match versus Saint Louis FC on Sunday. The, NYRB II, Orlando City B and FC Cincinnati would all have to lose or draw on Saturday.

Worst Seed Possible: 9th

How it can happen:

  • Lose on Sunday, FC Cincinnati will pass them in the table with a draw or win. Orlando City B will pass them with a win, but cannot pass them with a draw.

Strength of Schedule Projected: 44.6 projected points (8th)

Elo Rating: 1102 (7th)

8. FC Cincinnati

Current Points: 43

Max Points: 46

Match Remaining: Saturday, @ Toronto FC II

Best Seed Possible: 6th

How it can happen:

· Defeat Toronto FC II on Saturday, then have NYRB II, Bethlehem both lose or draw over the weekend.

Worst Seed Possible: 9th

How it can happen:

· Loss to Toronto FC II on Saturday, coupled with a win by Orlando City B would see Cincinnati finish outside the playoff picture.

Strength of Schedule Projected: 45.4 projected points (6th)

Elo Rating: 1099 (8th)

9. Orlando City B

Current Points: 42

Max Points: 45

Match Remaining: Thursday, vs Tampa Bay

Best Seed Possible: 6th

How it can happen:

· Win on Thursday night, then hope NYRB II, Bethlehem and FC Cincinnati all drop their respective matches over the weekend.

Worst Seed Possible: 9th

How it can happen:

· If Orlando City B lose to Tampa on Thursday night, their season will reach a conclusion.

· If they draw, Orlando City would still finish behind both Bethlehem and FC Cincinnati due to the total wins tiebreaker.

Strength of Schedule Projected: 43.1 projected points (9th)

Elo Rating: 1108 (6th)

Conclusion

The seeding all hinges on Orlando City B vs Tampa Bay on Thursday night. If the Baby Lions lose, then the top eight playoff teams will be set for the Eastern Conference, but if they win, then Saturday and Sunday’s slate of matches will become very interesting.

The regular season of the East has built up to this point, and promises to set up an intriguing playoff campaign. Tampa Bay can also shake up the seeding of #2-#5 with their result as well.

The race that will be the most interesting will be the clubs chasing the final three spots in the playoffs. NYRB II, FC Cincinnati, Bethlehem and Orlando City B all face their last match needing a win to guarantee a playoff spot (those first three clubs would each clinch playoff spot with a win, Orlando City B definitely improves their chances, with a win, but must await other results of the weekend to be sure). A loss would make each of their situations more unclear.

Our most recent Strength of Schedule projections show Orlando City B being that club on the outside looking in, adding more weight to their aforementioned bout versus the Rowdies.

Which matches are you watching this weekend? What teams do you think will make the playoffs, and who will be left on the outside looking in? Who is your pick to win the conference and advance to the league final? Let us know in the comments below!