With twelve matches remaining in the USL Eastern Conference regular season, the playoff picture is still unfolding. Specifically, we all want to know which opponent FC Cincinnati will host at Nippert Stadium on October 20th.
What We Know
Mathematically, there are multiple scenarios where FCC could play one of six different teams October 20th in the #1 vs #8 seed match. Here is what we know going into the final week of regular season action:
- Four teams have officially clinched – FC Cincinnati, Louisville City, Pittsburgh Riverhounds, and Charleston Battery.
- The Orange & Blue have won the East, the League and will host 2018 playoff matches at Nippert, as far and long as the team continues to advance.
- Six Eastern Conference teams have been eliminated – Charlotte Independence, Tampa Bay Rowdies, Penn FC, Atlanta United 2, Richmond Kickers, and Toronto FC II.
- The remaining six teams are fighting for the last four playoff spots – Indy Eleven, Nashville SC, New York Red Bulls II, Bethlehem Steel, North Carolina FC, and Ottawa Fury.
Here is your current USL Eastern Conference Standings, ranked by projected points.
Other soccer leagues worldwide play their final matches on the same day and time. The USL schedule is different. The remaining 12 games are spread from Tuesday evening through Sunday afternoon. Ten of these matches have a potential impact in determining FC Cincinnati’s first round opponent.
What to Look for in the Midweek Matches
Let’s review three midweek matches that have a direct impact on the Orange & Blue’s first round USL playoff opponent.
Penn FC vs NYRB II, Tuesday 10/9 at 6:30 PM. News broke yesterday that Penn FC has decided to take a one-year hiatus before joining USL League One in 2020. This unexpected announcement may play perfectly into the Baby Bulls need for 3 points to solidify their playoff spot. New York currently sits in 7th place in the East with 1.44 points per game (49 total projected points). They will need to overcome their dismal 1-5-10 road record this season to stay in the top eight.
Louisville City FC vs North Carolina FC, Tuesday 10/9 at 7:00 PM. Since losing to FCC 0-1 in the rain-drenched multi-day affair four weeks ago, the “Boys in Purple” have won 4 straight games and are unbeaten in five. The defending USL Champions are rounding third and heading home (pun intended) into the playoffs under John Hackworth. Although a win Tuesday does not guarantee a second-place finish, it certainly moves them one large step closer. A tie or loss by NCFC makes it increasingly difficult for them to enter the 2018 playoff race. They would require a road win at Charlotte Saturday and a series of losses by NYRB II, Bethlehem, and Ottawa.
Nashville SC vs. Toronto FC II, Tuesday 10/9 at 8:30 PM. Nashville may be the most intriguing team left to clinch a playoff spot. They have an opportunity, with two wins and a Charleston loss this weekend, to capture 4th place overall. However, they could also fail to make the playoffs with two losses in their final two matches (and other results going against them). Don’t sleep on the last place team in the East. TFC II has surprisingly knocked off both Louisville and Charleston on the road in the past six weeks. In addition, NSC is only 1-2-2 in their last five matches in the Music City.
Stay tuned to Orange & Blue Press for updates to FC Cincinnati’s first-round playoff opponent and all of FCC’s 2018 USL playoff coverage.