September 2, 2007

USL First Division Playoff Picture - Through 9/1

Saturday night brought two big results that helped clear things up, so we'll take a look at the teams and where they could finish and where they'll probably finish.

1. Portland Timbers - 50 points, 27 games played. A big win in Carolina last night keeps their regular-season title chances alive. Only game left is next Sunday at Vancouver, which could decide who finishes on top.

2. Seattle Sounders - 48 points, 26 games played. Could have all but sewn up the regular-season title in Minnesota, but dropped a 2-1 decision. Nonetheless, they win out and they finish on top. They host California on Thursday before finishing the season on Sunday in Minnesota. And don't forget about their mid-week US Open Cup semifinal against FC Dallas.

3. Montreal Impact - 47 points, 26 games played. After all is said and done, they still have a shot at finishing on top. But Wednesday's game is huge when they host Atlanta, as a loss could help Atlanta jump past them. I don't see it happening, but crazier things have happened. I see the Impact holding onto this spot.

4. Atlanta Silverbacks - 42 points, 26 games played. The 'Backs got a big three points to all but sew up the 4th spot last night. They could mathematically move into 3rd with a win at Montreal on Wednesday and a win at Vancouver on Friday coupled with a Rochester win over Montreal on Wednesday, but again, I don't see it happening. One more points sews up fourth, so that's where I see Atlanta. Good to see they're probably going to finish in the top half of the playoff teams and the top third of the league.

5. Rochester Raging Rhinos - 39 points, 27 games played. I'm not going to get into tiebreakers. Rochester hosts Montreal on Saturday in their last match, one that they need, not for positioning, but for a morale booster heading into the playoffs. They looked terrible on Friday night at Montreal, so they need something to get them going.

5. Puerto Rico Islanders - 39 points, 27 games played. Battling with Rochester for 5th, but more importantly they can put an end to Charleston's playoff hopes on Friday at Blackbaud. Would be nice revenge after falling to Charleston in the first round of last year's playoffs. And we know these two teams don't like each other. I predict they'll finish in 5th and draw Atlanta in the first round.

7. Vancouver Whitecaps - 37 points, 26 games played. What a season for the defending champs. I don't think anyone envisioned things going like this. Still having problems scoring goals, but they finally broke the 12-game winless streak. They host Atlanta on Friday and Portland on Sunday. Yes, they could move all the way up to 4th, but I don't see them getting more than one points out of their last two games. 7th place it is.

Now comes the real fun:

One playoff spot remaining, 3 teams still alive.

Note: Minnesota will be officially eliminated after today's Miami-Charleston match. Minnesota can only reach 29 points, so a win by either team is too much to overcome, and a draw puts Charleston on 30.

8. Charleston Battery - 29 points, 26 games played. Today's game at Miami is huge. A win could put them in the driver's seat, a loss could all but seal their fate. Granted, they still host Puerto Rico on Friday, but as I mentioned earlier, that'll be a big game for the Islanders too.

8. Carolina RailHawks - 29 points, 26 games played. I wouldn't bet against the RailHawks to take the final spot. At Minnesota and at California is probably the best they could have hoped for to end the season. My pick for the 8th spot.

10. Miami FC - 28 points, 27 games played. The first team to end their season, Miami hosts Charleston later today with their playoff lives on the line. They need a win and some losses to keep their dream alive, but I don't see it happening.


Anonymous said...

It will be a tough two game trip for the Silverbacks with suspensions looming and the injury list growing larger. I'm not expecting much because the team will be shorthanded but it has already been a successful season.

Anonymous said...

Charleston loses to Miami 3-2.

Anonymous said...

Who's out of the Canada games because of injuries? And suspensions?

Longshoe said...

Not sure on yellow card suspensions off the top of my head, but Hayes will be out for at least the first one due to his red Saturday night.

With the way he received it, in a dead ball altercation, I guess it's possible that he could receive an extra game. I doubt it though.

Anonymous said...

There may be two players out with visa issues. Moore, Hassim and maybe Buete are out.

Longshoe said...

I was fairly sure Hassim was out, wasn't sure about Moore, and didn't know about Buete yet.

I'm assuming that Kandji and Wolfe might the visa issue guys just because they're the latest additions to the roster.

Luckily, it appears that they should be pretty safe in the 4th spot. Let's just hope they don't line up against Vancouver or Montreal in the playoffs where the visa issues could be a HUGE problem.

Anonymous said...

Mtl 1 Atl 0
I thought Atlanta did well with some of the second line guys tonight. They neutralized the Mtl midfield and took Gbeke completely out of the game. I think he had only one shot. The Silverbacks are going to be a dangerous team in the playoffs if they can get all of their players back.