The USL PRO regular season concludes this weekend with nine games that will determine the final three playoff participants and the seeding for the USL PRO Playoffs, with six teams still mathematically alive for a bye into the semifinals. Seven games will be available on USLNation.com, including all of Saturday and Sunday night’s action as the playoff field is set.
Orlando City has already clinched the USL PRO regular season title, and home-field advantage throughout the playoffs. The second-place Rochester Rhinos currently are in line to join them in the semifinals, but the Richmond Kickers could make a stronger claim should they win both of their contests in the Caribbean on Friday and Sunday night against Antigua Barracuda FC.
The Kickers currently sit three points behind the Rhinos, and two points behind the Charleston Battery, in fourth place. With a game in hand on both of the teams ahead of them, however, the Kickers could finish on 41 points. Having split the season series with the Rhinos, who can also finish with a maximum of 41, and both teams potentially finishing with an identical record, the Kickers’ goal differential could carry them past Rochester on the league’s third tiebreaker. Richmond, which still needs one win to guarantee its playoff berth, currently has a goal differential of +4, to the Rhinos’ +3.
Should the Kickers win on Friday night, Rochester would then likely be looking for a big win against the Pittsburgh Riverhounds on Saturday night. Charleston, meanwhile, will hope both of its rivals slip up, opening the door for the Battery to claim second with a victory against the Dayton Dutch Lions on Saturday.
While some teams battle for seeding, others will battle for their playoff lives, with doubleheaders between Wilmington and Charlotte in North Carolina and Harrisburg and Los Angeles in California set to round out the playoff field. Wilmington sits in the box seat of the four teams, needing one win out of its two games with the Eagles to advance to the postseason. Charlotte, however, has been second only to Orlando in its form during the past 10 games, going 8-1-1, and would turn up the pressure on the Hammerheads with a victory in their first meeting on Friday night at the Wingate College Sports Complex.
Last season’s USL PRO runner-up Harrisburg also has its playoff life in its hands, with two wins guaranteeing the City Islanders a top-six spot. They will face a big challenge from a Blues side that knows it must win twice, and get help, to reach the postseason. Should Los Angeles win twice, it would also need either Wilmington or Charlotte to sweep their doubleheader, or the Hammerheads to earn a win and a draw, which would allow the Blues to edge the Eagles by a point for the No.6 seed.