Our weekly roundup of USL news and notes. Best enjoyed with coffee or the beers your friends left in your fridge over the weekend.
Another weekend, another set of scraps for playoff position in the USL. Of the teams in the East above the red line, Richmond and Charleston are the only teams whose chances took a hit, and even then they’re virtual locks for the post season. Harrisburg, still in 7th with 3 games in hand, was idle while Pittsburgh and Charlotte played to a draw. Charlotte remains 8th in the table with 26 points, and Pittsburgh is hanging on to 6th on 32 points and game in their pocket as well.
Meanwhile, Wilmington, who lost to Rochester despite putting up a pretty good fight, has been mathematically eliminated, as have Toronto FC II and St. Louis. Montreal has a 3% chance to survive, but barring some kind of epic collapse by Charlotte, Pittsburgh, AND Harrisburg, their season is pretty much over. The races left to watch, then, are really between the Baby Bulls (33 pts), the Riverhounds (32), Harrisburg (28), and Charlotte (26). Of that group, you could argue that Charlotte has the easiest schedule, as they play Wilmington and Toronto twice, and St. Louis in Fenton, which might as well be 3 points. Louisville City and Rochester have the first round byes essentially locked up.
Out west, they’re essentially re-shuffling deck chairs for the order above the red line. Tulsa didn’t do themselves any favors drawing the Royals over the weekend. While the Roughnecks are 5th in the Western conference table, the six teams above them in points per game all have 3 games in hand. Vancouver Whitecaps 2’s loss to Toronto pretty much eliminated them from postseason contention also.
It will probably be a fight to the finish to see which of Colorado Springs and Oklahoma City finish at the top of the table. Count me totally surprised at the Switchbacks’ successes this season, as before first kick you could be excused for thinking they’d be a total failure. Los Dos and the Sounders 2 have outside chances at getting a first round bye, and play each other this weekend in a match that will probably go a long way toward deciding who makes that final charge.
In other news, as we all know FC Cincinnati was announced as the latest USL team for 2016 with much applause and/or ridicule depending on whom you asked. Friday morning, philly.com’s Jonathan Tannenwald tweeted that it was likely that the Philadelphia Union would start a USL side, which would effectively end the Union’s affiliation with the struggling Harrisburg City Islanders. Other teams expected to enter the league next season include a “2” side for both Sporting Kansas City and Orlando City. On an even sadder note, the expansion likely means that St. Louis will move to the Western conference, which could mean the end of the Kings Cup altogether depending on the schedule. No worries, though, as I’m sure the braintrust down in Tampa will ask Louisville to play Cincy at least five times in what I’ll go ahead and call the Ohio River Derby. WE ARE AT WAR WITH CINCINNATI; WE HAVE ALWAYS BEEN AT WAR WITH CINCINNATI.