As we head into the final two weekends of the regular season it looks like quite the horse race for a couple of slots. Interestingly enough, the Launch are the most likely to be locked into their slot, assuming they take care of business in Boston on Saturday. After last night’s gutted out win by Ohio in Denver the two teams are tied for the top spot and barring any really ridiculous hiccups and permutations they will occupy the 1st and 2nd seeds and will host home playoff games in the semifinals, with the Launch likely to travel to one of them.
Here are the standings as of today and the games remaining:
|Week 14 – 7/27||Charlotte||Boston|
|Week 14 – 7/27||Denver||Chesapeake|
|Week 14 – 7/29||Atlanta||Rochester|
|Week 14 – 7/29||Boston||Florida|
|Week 14 – 7/29||Ohio||New York|
|Week 15 – 8/3||Chesapeake||Denver|
|Week 15 – 8/5||Boston||Atlanta|
|Week 15 – 8/5||Rochester||Ohio|
|Week 15 – 8/5||New York||Charlotte|
One thing we can certainly say is that Boston is eliminated and that’s good and bad news for the Launch Saturday. The good is that Boston will have to travel to Charlotte for a Thursday tilt against a desperate Hounds team coming off their loss down here and that will take a toll on them. The bad is that Boston has nothing to lose and will play either loose (bad) or indifferent (good). Either way, the Launch need to remember early in the year when Boston came back to beat the Launch 18-17 in OT after the Launch led by 3 in the 4th quarter. Had they held on they would be 8-5 and pretty much locked into a playoff spot and quite possibly hosting a semifinal, so it is important for the Launch to come out and jump on Boston early and not give them any reason to believe.
So, assuming the Launch take care of business it comes down to an amazing race for the fourth playoff spot, not unlike last year when SIX teams finished at 8-6 and two of those were eliminated. It likely will come down to the three teams that are 6-6 but there are probably a few ways a 5-7 team can close out with 2 wins and get in with a 7-7 record. On paper Chesapeake might have the toughest road given they end with a home and home against Denver as most teams find it difficult to win in Denver because of the need to acclimate to the altitude, although Ohio handled it last night.
New York will have to go to Ohio and face a team looking to clinch a home game. The bragging rights to first overall really mean nothing as last year’s top spot was quickly forgotten in the wake of their MLL championship game loss to Denver. They might even make a calculated decision that hosting the Launch as #2 seed might be more beneficial to them than hosting NY. That’s not to mean they would want to lose to NY but now that they got the win in Denver that is a confidence booster going forward and now it’s about finishing Top 2, gaining the home game and trying to peak for it. New York can not afford to lose and hope for good results from others. That game basically is a matchup of two very experienced teams. Ohio then has to travel to Rochester, with the Rattlers also likely in desperation mode, so it is not out of the realm of possibilities that Ohio could still fall to 8-6, but they should have the tiebreaker over Florida with the 1-0 record in the regular season.
Rochester finishes with a road trip to Atlanta and the home game with Ohio and needs a sweep. That is also not out of the realm as they own a season’s sweep of Denver and have proven they can rise to the occasion in the past few years.
For Atlanta and Charlotte it’s pretty simple. Win the last two and hope. Both play Boston so they will not be able to benefit from head to head tiebreaker possibilities as much as the 6-6 teams.
When you look a little deeper at the tiebreakers you get some tidbits:
Florida holds the tiebreaker over both NY and Rochester, but not Chesapeake (goal differential)
Rochester and NY will only play once this season and NY has that win already
Chesapeake and NY also only play once this season and NY has that win already too. NY wins out and goes no matter what.
Atlanta has already beaten Rochester and if they get to 7-7 they will have swept Rochester. Atlanta and NY have played twice and they not only split, but also scored the same total goals against each other so that will require another level to solve.
Charlotte has the deepest hole. They would not only need to win at NY but win by at least 3 points to even out that tiebreaker. Rochester has the tiebreaker already over Charlotte but Chesapeake and Charlotte have the same exact scenario as Atlanta and NY.
If I had to put money down on this one I think it would look like:
Denver at #1 (after last night’s game I believe Denver has the one goal differential in the 1-1 series)
Ohio at #2
Florida at #3
New York at #4
That would send the Launch out to Ohio for the 1st round and Denver hosting NY.
No matter what, stay tuned!