The playoff berths are locked in the Atlantic Division, and by the end of Wednesday’s action the same could be true of the Pacific Division with both Orange County SC and the LA Galaxy II having a chance to book their spots in the postseason field.
There’s a lot to be played for beyond just earning a postseason berth in the next two weeks, though, with seeding in all four divisions still up for grabs. Wednesday’s eight-game slate puts the spotlight on those situations in addition to the potential for four more playoff berths to be clinched in the Western Conference.
Here are four games to keep an eye on this Wednesday, and where everyone stands with two weeks to go.
The Tampa Bay Rowdies and Miami FC are both locked into the postseason, and Tampa Bay to the Atlantic Division’s top spot, but the culmination of the in-state rivalry this season has big implications for both teams in terms of seeding. The Rowdies need to take victory to remain ahead of Phoenix Rising FC for the best overall record in the Championship and homefield advantage throughout the playoffs, with Tampa Bay holding the head-to-head tiebreaker thanks to their win on home turf early in the season, while Miami needs victory to move level on points with Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC and into third place thanks to their ownership of the head-to-head tiebreaker with the Hounds. That should make for another compelling matchup between these two sides at Al Lang Stadium.
El Paso Locomotive FC has locked up the Mountain Division title, but after its loss on Sunday night to the LA Galaxy II the potential to challenge the Tampa Bay Rowdies and Phoenix Rising FC for the best record in the Championship seems like a big ask, especially with the injuries the side is carrying defensively. That could be good news for Austin Bold FC, which is in desperate need of victory for its postseason goals as it enters the week level on points with New Mexico United but trailing on the head-to-head tiebreaker between the sides and in fifth place in the standings. Any points would be useful for Austin, and a win would be a massive step forward, but El Paso will be looking to maintain its home undefeated record no matter the personnel that are on the field.
New Mexico United edged into fourth place on Sunday afternoon after Ilija Ilic’s late equalizer against San Diego Loyal SC at Torero Stadium as it holds the head-to-head tiebreaker over Austin Bold FC with both teams on 40 points. United now returns home for another big test against a San Antonio FC side that can clinch a playoff place with a draw against New Mexico but will be looking for a win that would give it a three-point edge over Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC for second place in the standings and the potential of a home game in the Western Conference Quarterfinals. New Mexico has taken victory in two of the three prior meetings between these sides so far this season, and three points would assure the side it would remain in fourth place ahead of another crucial game on Saturday against fellow postseason contention Rio Grande Valley FC.
With both Tacoma Defiance and Oakland Roots SC having failed to take victory over the past weekend, this matchup serves as an elimination game for one or potentially both clubs. Should either Tacoma or Oakland come out a winner, their chances of a postseason berth would move onto the weekend – and in the case of Tacoma set up a massive game against current fourth-placed side the LA Galaxy II. For the loser, it would mean the end of the road should the LA Galaxy II have claimed victory earlier in the evening against the Charleston Battery, and that would also be true in the case of a draw. If Los Dos has won and moved to 42 points, the Defiance and Roots SC would both drop to a maximum points available total of 41 with a draw, eliminating both from contention.