USL Week 24 Recap: Republic Back on Top, Orlando Holding on in East

Bonney Field, home of the Sacramento Republic

by ANTHONY J. MERCED

Week 24 was all about positioning as the eight teams in each conference are locking in their playoff berths with strong results. Teams like Richmond and Rochester are hoping to push up the table and guarantee at least one playoff game. Out West, Sacramento looks to place their stamp on first place after a roller coaster of a season.

The playoff picture in the Eastern Conference is all but set with only one spot remaining. New York, Louisville, Charlotte, Richmond, Rochester, Charleston and Cincinnati all have their places. Orlando seem poised to take the final spot but will need to ward off the advances of the City Islanders and Steel FC.

Sacramento In Top Form at the Right Time

Since losing three out of four in mid to late July, Sacramento Republic FC have done a complete 180 degree turnaround. The team has an eight game unbeaten streak with five wins and three draws. That is good enough to over take Rio Grande Valley FC who has also surged passed early leaders Vancouver and LA for the top spot.

A new defensive awareness from Paul Buckle and his crew have given Sacramento a new lease on life. The team has only allowed five goals over the past eight games and scored an amazing 13 goals.

Everything is coming together at the right time as Sacramento looks to reclaim their spot as the top team in the USL.

Door for Playoff Hopes Closing in the East

Orlando City B currently holds the final spot in the Eastern Conference playoffs but hasn’t locked it up. Both Harrisburg and Steel FC are five points from the coveted spot with only three games remaining for either side. This weekend proved uneventful for all sides as all teams involved could only must three points total.

The pivotal game between Harrisburg and Steel FC ended in a 1-1 draw, a devastating result considering that Orlando dropped their game against Pittsburgh 2-0. Harrisburg also drew Pittsburgh on the 27th, missing the opportunity to make up ground in the standings. For Steel FC the task was far more daunting. They dropped a 2-0 result to front runners New York Red Bull II and their chances of advancing into the playoffs is slowly disappearing.

WEEK 24 RESULTS:

Portland Timbers 2: 1
Seattle Sounders FC 2: 2

Bethlehem Steel FC: 2
Harrisburg City Islanders: 2

FC Cincinnati: 2
Charlotte Independence: 3

Charleston Battery: 1
Richmond Kickers: 1

San Antonio FC: 1
Swope Park Rangers: 2

Wilmington Hammerheads: 2
FC Montreal: 2

OKC Energy FC: 1
St. Louis FC: 1

LA Galaxy II: 2
Arizona United SC: 1

Vancouver Whitecaps FC: 1
Seattle Sounders FC 2: 2

Louisville City FC: 1
FC Montreal: 0

Pittsburgh Riverhounds: 2
Orlando City B: 0

LA Galaxy II: 0
Colorado Springs Switchbacks: 3

Rochester Rhinos: 2
Charleston Battery: 0

Rio Grande Valley FC: 2
Swope Park Rangers: 0

Tulsa Roughnecks: 1
Real Monarchs SLC: 1

Orange County Blues FC: 1
Sacramento Republic FC: 2

New York Red Bulls II: 2
Bethlehem Steel FC: 0

Charlotte Independence: 5
Toronto FC II: 1

Arizona United SC: 1
San Antonio FC: 1

OKC Energy FC: 0
Portland Timbers 2: 5