Steevan Dos Santos could face his former club on Sunday evening as the Tampa Bay Rowdies visit Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC, where they could have a chance to clinch the Atlantic Division title. | Photo courtesy Mallory Neil / Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC
The four playoff berths in the USL Championship’s Atlantic Division could be decided by the end of this weekend’s action, and there is plenty to keep an eye on when it comes to the postseason races around the fourth-place line in the Central, Mountain and Pacific Divisions as well after Wednesday night’s games.
Here are four games to watch as the picture comes further into focus, and where everyone stands in the big picture.
New Mexico United’s draw with Hartford Athletic on Wednesday night coupled with Austin Bold FC’s victory against Tacoma Defiance has turned this meeting between New Mexico and Rio Grande Valley FC into a must-win for both clubs. United and the Toros have now played one game more than Austin but sit below them in fifth and sixth place respectively in the standings. The side that emerges from this one victorious will get a boost to its chances, but only if Bold FC fails to take victory against OKC Energy FC as well on Sunday. The side that comes out on the short end – especially if Austin wins – is going to have a difficult road ahead to reach the playoff field.
Sacramento Republic FC’s up-and-down season continued on Wednesday night in a 2-1 defeat to Oakland Roots SC, which not only saw Oakland move back into fourth place in the standings but also claim the head-to-head tiebreaker between the NorCal rivals when it comes to final positions. That makes Republic FC’s trip to San Diego Loyal SC – which can’t quite clinch this weekend but can take another big step forward with a win – a must-win for the visitors at Torero Stadium, or else hope that other results end up in their favor.
Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC will be hoping for the Rowdies to do it a favor on Thursday night and take victory against the Charleston Battery at Al Lang Stadium, which would mean the Hounds only need a draw to clinch their fourth consecutive trip to the postseason when the Rowdies visit on Sunday evening. Both teams will looking for all three points, though, with Tampa Bay trying to end its winless history at Highmark Stadium as it continues its pursuit of the best record in the Championship and clinching the Atlantic Division title with wins in both games this week.
San Antonio FC’s late equalizer by Kortne Ford against El Paso Locomotive FC edged the side into second place in the standings past Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC. With the Switchbacks looking to regain that position on Friday night on the road against Real Monarchs SLC, San Antonio could be in a position against Memphis 901 FC and former player Kyle Murphy – now 901 FC’s leading scorer with 17 goals this season – where it needs a win against the surging Central Division side to keep pace with Colorado Springs in the race for a home game in the playoffs.