Playoffs Take Shape as USSF D-2 Pro League Enters Final Week
Week 25 Recap and Week 26 Preview of the USSF D-2 Pro League
Week 25 Recap
The USSF D-2 Playoffs are almost set as the race for the final seeding spots will come down to the final week on Friday, Oct. 1, after 25 weeks of regular season action. Last week, the NSC Minnesota Stars beat the Tampa Bay Rowdies 3-1 on the road assuring themselves at least seventh place in the standings. The result moved them out of reach of the Puerto Rico Islanders, who are now guaranteed to finish in the eighth spot at the end of the season. Matching Minnesota's pace, the Montreal Impact secured a big 1-0 victory on the road to Vancouver Whitecaps FC. The win pulls the Quebec club even on points with Minnesota and their superior goal differential gives them the edge for sixth spot as they split regular season results with Minnesota. Miami won their second match of the week as they bested the Rochester Rhinos 1-0 at home. Rochester's loss opened the door for Austin to take first place in the league which they accomplished by taking care of AC St. Louis 4-2 at House Park. The win moves Austin two points clear at the top of the table with one more game to play than the Rhinos. The Portland Timbers defeated Crystal Palace Baltimore 3-1 in Towson, Md., to continue edging closer to the top of the USL conference, while Carolina's 2-1 win against Puerto Rico saw them jump over Vancouver for first place in the NASL Conference by virtue of superior number of goals scored during the course of the season. Two eliminated teams played midweek as Miami FC defeated AC St. Louis 4-2 in Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.
Week 25 Results
|Sept. 22||Miami FC 4, AC St. Louis 2||Lockhart Stadium; Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.|
|Sept. 24||Tampa Bay Rowdies 1, NSC Minnesota Stars 3||George M. Steinbrenner Field; Tampa, Fla.|
|Sept. 24||Vancouver Whitecaps FC 0, Montreal Impact 1||Swangard Stadium; Burnaby, British Columbia|
|Sept. 25||Miami FC 1, Rochester Rhinos 0||Fort Lauderdale Stadium; Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.|
|Sept. 25||Crystal Palace Baltimore 1, Portland Timbers 3||Paul Angelo Russo Field; Towson, Md.|
|Sept. 25||Carolina RailHawks 2, Puerto Rico Islanders 1||WakeMed Soccer Park; Cary, N.C.|
|Sept. 25||Austin Aztex 4, AC St. Louis 2||House Park; Austin, Texas|
Week 26 Preview
Austin can clinch the No. 1 spot in the first match of the week with a win or draw at Carolina at 7 p.m. ET on Friday, Oct. 1, in Cary, N.C. However, the RailHawks have everything to play for as well, as they try to finish the season on top of Vancouver for the NASL Conference title and the No. 2 seed overall. Also on Friday, Crystal Palace Baltimore will head to Tampa to take on the Rowdies at 7:30 p.m. ET. The following day, Vancouver and Portland will square off for the fourth time this season when they meet at 7 p.m. at Swangard Stadium. Vancouver will be trying to regain the top spot in the NASL Conference, while Portland has a chance to take second place in the USL Conference if Rochester loses in St. Louis earlier in the evening at 8:10 p.m. ET. Puerto Rico and Miami will also be in action on Saturday night with both teams already having their postseason statuses confirmed. The last match of the season will take place in Montreal as the Impact face Austin in Stade Saputo at 2 p.m. ET.
Week 26 Schedule
|Oct. 1||Carolina RailHawks vs. Austin Aztex||7 p.m.||WakeMed Soccer Park; Cary, N.C.|
|Oct. 1||Tampa Bay Rowdies vs. Crystal Palace Baltimore||7:30 p.m.||George M. Steinbrenner Field; Tampa, Fla.|
|Oct. 2||Vancouver Whitecaps FC vs. Portland Timbers||7 p.m.||Swangard Stadium; Burnaby, British Columbia|
|Oct. 2||AC St. Louis vs. Rochester Rhinos||8:10 p.m.||Anheuser-Busch Soccer Park; St. Louis, Mo.|
|Oct. 2||Miami FC vs. Puerto Rico Islanders||7:30 p.m.||Lockhart Stadium; Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.|
|Oct. 3||Montreal Impact vs. Austin Aztex||2 p.m.||Stade Saputo; Montreal, Quebec|
|*+Austin Aztex||USL Conference||1||28||15||5||8||52||35||17||53|
|*Carolina RailHawks||NASL Conference||2||29||12||9||8||41||31||10||44|
|*+Rochester Rhinos||USL Conference||3||29||15||8||6||36||23||13||51|
|*Portland Timbers||USL Conference||4||29||13||7||9||32||21||11||48|
|*Vancouver Whitecaps FC||NASL Conference||5||29||10||5||14||30||20||10||44|
|*Montreal Impact||NASL Conference||6||29||11||11||7||34||30||4||40|
|*NSC Minnesota Stars||USL Conference||7||30||11||12||7||32||36||-4||40|
|*Puerto Rico Islanders||USL Conference||8||29||9||11||9||36||34||2||36|
|xMiami FC Blues||NASL Conference||9||29||7||11||11||36||48||-12||32|
|xTampa Bay Rowdies||USL Conference||10||29||6||12||11||35||43||-8||29|
|xAC St. Louis||NASL Conference||11||29||7||14||8||31||46||-15||29|
|xCrystal Palace Baltimore||NASL Conference||12||29||6||17||6||21||49||-28||24|
|*=Team has qualified for Playoffs
+=Team has clinched top four spot
x=Team has been eliminated from the Playoffs
Week 26 Notes
- Austin will clinch first place in the league and the No. 1 seed in the Playoffs with one win or two draws in their last two matches. The same is also true if Rochester fails to win in St. Louis.
- Carolina holds the advantage over Vancouver in the Goals For column and will grab first place in the NASL Conference if the clubs match results.
- Montreal is guaranteed the sixth seed as long as they do not lose by more than nine goals against Austin on Sunday as they hold an eight-goal advantage in Goal Differential over Minnesota, who has already completed their regular season schedule.