Top 4 Clinch . . . Best in the East . . . USL Regular Season Champs . . . 2018 USL Cup?

Image: Joe Craven

As the Orange & Blue prepare for the resumption of play in Lousville on Tuesday, let’s take inventory of the current playoff picture and the run to the 2018 USL Cup.

Through Week 26 of the USL regular season, FCC still holds a commanding lead in the Eastern Conference. With seven matches remaining, FCC leads Pittsburgh by 11 points, Charleston by 12 points and Louisville City by 13 points. FC Cincinnati can finish no worse than fifth in the East based on the maximum points available per team (see below). FC Cincinnati needs 12 total points in any fashion to win the East outright and lock down home pitch advantage for the entire Eastern playoffs.

Eastern Conference Table

Teams Ranked by Maximum Points

So what’s up for grabs this coming week? None other than clinching a home playoff match October 20th at Nippert. Note the 3 point differential between FCC and Indy Eleven* above in yellow. To guarantee a first round home playoff match, only one of the following results needs to occur this week:

  • FCC closes out the win versus Louisville City FC Tuesday evening
  • The Orange & Blue beat Toronto FC II on Sunday
  • FCC draws LCFC Tuesday and Indy Eleven draws Penn FC on Wednesday
  • FCC draws TFC II Sunday and Indy Eleven draws Penn FC on Wednesday
  • Indy Eleven loses to Penn FC on Wednesday

*  With any of the results above, FC Cincinnati owns the first tiebreaker of most league wins over Indy

Ok, great…but who will the Orange & Blue be playing come October 20th at Nippert? Let’s take a look at the following graphic that shows a sensitivity analysis of possible playoff opponents (teams ranked by projected points) and the impact that current, projected and maximum points have with respect to the Eastern Conference playoff race.

Eastern Conference Playoff Race

Graphic by Connor Paquette

If the season finished today, and using the projected points metric (points per game earned extrapolated over 34 total matches) represented above, FCC would be hosting the Bethlehem Steel FC in the first round with the opportunity to face the winner of Charleston Battery vs Indy Eleven. All things considering, this is a pretty decent path to a potential Eastern Conference final where they could face the winner of the other side of the bracket (currently Pittsburgh, Louisville City, Nashville and New York).

Several factors go into the ideal, most favorable first round opponent at home, including:

  • Head to head results this season
  • Away record of possible opponent
  • Recent form
  • Any suspensions or injuries
  • International call-ups during the FIFA International October window

Who do you want to face in the opening playoff match? What surprises might we see in the remaining five weeks of USL play? Who would be the most difficult first round playoff opponent?  Let’s hear from you FCC fans.

Stay tuned to Orange & Blue Press for your remaining 2018 regular season and playoff coverage.

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