ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (October 2, 2017) — As the calendar turns to October, the race to the USL Cup Playoffs is coming into focus, with half the playoff field already having booked its place in the postseason.
The Tampa Bay Rowdies are still on the outside looking in, but could clinch their spot at the table and jump all the way to second place in the Eastern Conference with a win at home over the New York Red Bulls II on Wednesday night at Al Lang Stadium.
With the Rowdies’ ticket to the playoffs within touching distance, it’s time to illustrate once more how the playoffs will unfold.
First, a look at the playoff format.
The top eight teams in each conference will qualify for the playoffs, which will consist of a single-elimination knockout tournament. All matches are single-legged, hosted by the higher seeded team. If the match is tied after regulation, two 15-minute extra time periods will be played in their entirety with no golden goals. If the score remains tied, the winner will be determined via a penalty kick shootout.
The playoffs will take place in four consecutive weekends, beginning the weekend of October 20-22. The full schedule is below:
October 20-22: Conference Quarterfinals
October 27-29: Conference Semifinals
November 3-5: Conference Finals
November 10-12: USL Cup Final (2017 Final was actually held Monday of the following week)
Now, a look at who has punched their ticket already.
In the Eastern Conference, Louisville City FC has secured the No. 1 seed and home-field advantage through the Conference Final. Charleston and Charlotte, second and third, respectively, have booked their place in the field.
Six teams remain in contention for the remaining five playoff spots, with the Rowdies at the head of a pack which also includes the Rochester Rhinos, FC Cincinnati, Orlando City B, New York Red Bulls II and Bethlehem Steel FC.
The Harrisburg City Islanders, Saint Louis FC, Pittsburgh Riverhounds, Ottawa Fury FC, Richmond Kickers and Toronto FC II have all been eliminated from contention.
In the Western Conference, Real Monarchs SC is now just one point away from securing the best points haul in the USL and guaranteeing itself home-field advantage throughout the USL Cup Final.
Below the Monarchs, Reno 1868 FC, Swope Park Rangers, San Antonio FC and Phoenix Rising FC have all confirmed their playoff spots. Sacramento Republic FC, Tulsa Roughnecks FC and OKC Energy FC hold the inside track for the final three playoff spots, but Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC and Orange County SC remain in contention.
Rio Grande Valley FC, Seattle Sounders 2 FC, LA Galaxy II, Vancouver Whitecaps FC 2 and Portland Timbers 2 have been eliminated from contention.