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Title Races Heat Up as Hypothetical League Two Season Nears Finale

Photo from FA Euro New York

The hypothetical 2020 USL League Two season is now really hitting its home stretch. With seven weeks played and just two remaining in the regular season, we’re starting to gain some clarity on what the playoff picture will look like.

While no teams have clinched a postseason berth yet, 15 teams have been eliminated from contention (teams with “e” next to their logos in the standings). This week’s article features a new section at the end: the current standings for the best second-placed team in each conference.

As a reminder, each division champion automatically makes the playoffs, while the best second-placed team in each conference earns a wild card spot.

Here’s how things went down in Week 7.

Deep South Division

It was East Atlanta FC’s week in the Deep South. The new expansion club took seven points from three matches through wins over Asheville City and Peachtree City MOBA, and a draw with the latter.

SC United Bantams remain very much in the hunt with a game in hand, but didn’t capitalize on two opportunities to move closer to a playoff place. A 2–2 draw with Dalton and a 1–1 with Asheville kept the Bantams from reaching top spot.

Independence 2 and Tormenta 2 advanced up the table, with respective wins over SSA Kings and Charlotte Eagles.

1. East Atlanta FC, 2. SC United Bantams, 3. Dalton Red Wolves, 4. Charlotte Independence 2, 5. Tormenta FC 2, 6. Asheville City SC, 7. Charlotte Eagles, 8. Peachtree City MOBA, 9. SSA Kings.

Southeast Division

The seesaw battle at the top of the Southeast swung back the way of Tampa Bay Rowdies U23. While the Rowdies have played two extra games than The Villages SC, their 2–0 victory over Treasure Coast Tritons coupled with The Villages’ 1–1 draw against FC Miami City helped Tampa climb back into first.

Sarasota’s 3–0 drubbing of Treasure Coast allowed Metropolis FC to stay in the title hunt as well, and Daytona’s 1–0 win over Miami kept the Rush on the fringes of it.

1. Tampa Bay Rowdies U23, 2. The Villages SC, 3. Sarasota Metropolis FC, 4. Daytona Rush SC, 5. Florida Elite SA, 6. Treasure Coast Tritons, 7. Weston FC, 8. FC Miami City.

South Atlantic Division

Virginia Beach United earned a massive 2–1 comeback win over Tobacco Road FC to go three points ahead of TRFC, but immediately surrendered the lead they gained when they lost to Wake FC at the week’s end. TRFC bounced back with a 2–0 victory over NCFC U23.

West Virginia Alliance are strong title contenders too, helping their cause this week with a 2–1 win against NCFC U23. Lionsbridge beat NC Fusion U23 3–1, but both teams were mathematically eliminated from playoff contention thanks to other results.

1. Tri-Cities Otters, 2. Virginia Beach United, 3. Tobacco Road FC, 4. West Virginia Alliance, 5. Wake FC, 6. North Carolina FC U23, 7. Lionsbridge FC, 8. NC Fusion U23.

Mountain Division

Another week, another two games in the Mountain Division. Ogden City and Colorado Rush ground to a 0–0 stalemate in the first of their encounters, and looked set to do the same in the second. But a stoppage time winner for Ogden helped them jump ahead of Colorado in the table on goal difference.

Though the points were surely nice to pick up, the division is pretty much wrapped up for New Mexico United U23, who need just three points from their final four games to clinch the title.

1. New Mexico United U23, 2. Ogden City SC, 3. Colorado Rush, 4. Park City Red Wolves.

Northwest Division

The Northwest title race is down to two teams. Lane United did themselves a big favor this week by beating both Vancouver TSS FC Rovers and Eastside FC, while OVF Alliance picked up four points from facing the same two opponents.

Those results move LUFC three points ahead (having played an extra game). The two sides meet head-to-head next week in a game that will likely determine which team earns the division’s guaranteed playoff spot.

The week’s only other fixture was a 0–0 draw between Portland Timbers U23 and Calgary Foothills.

Southwest Division

Two San Francisco rivals are neck and neck with three games remaining. San Francisco City were the happiest team in the division this week, after beating Southern California Seahorses and seeing Ventura County Fusion and San Francisco Glens both drop points after drawing 2–2 with each other.

FC Golden State Force continued an unbeaten run, but two draws this week didn’t quite help them make up some necessary ground in the title race.

*Southern California Seahorses should show a record of 0–6–4.

1. San Francisco Glens SC, 2. San Francisco City FC, 3. Ventura County Fusion, 4. FC Golden State Force, 5. Santa Cruz Breakers, 6. Southern California Seahorses.

Great Lakes Division

It finally happened: the Flint City Bucks won a game — and then a second in the same week. The curse is over at last. Flint looked like their old selves, grabbing a 2–0 road victory over South Bend Lions before returning home and beating Louisville City U23 2–1 at Atwood Stadium.

At the top end of the table, Grand Rapids FC and AFC Ann Arbor both played out 0–0 draws in their first games of the week. Grand Rapids then used its game in hand to good effect, beating Dayton Dutch Lions 3–1 to stretch its lead in the standings to four points.

1. Grand Rapids FC, 2. AFC Ann Arbor, 3. Cincinnati Dutch Lions, 4. South Bend Lions, 5. Oakland County FC, 6. Dayton Dutch Lions, 7. Louisville City FC U23, 8. Flint City Bucks.

Heartland Division

FC Manitoba’s unbeaten campaign ended at the hands of the worst team possible for the Canadian side: title rivals Peoria City. Peoria hosted Manitoba in Illinois and beat the visitors 2–0 to move level on points with them. Manitoba still had a game in hand and a chance to regain the lead, but a road loss to Green Bay Voyageurs saw them drop to second place on goal difference.

Green Bay picked up a second home win of the week against another visiting Canadian team, 1–0 over Thunder Bay Chill. Des Moines Menace beat Kaw Valley by the same scoreline, while Chicago FC United and St. Louis Lions each dropped points in the title race by tying each other 1–1.

Mid South Division

Week 7 in the Mid South saw Corpus Christi FC and Texas United pull away from the rest of the pack. Corpus Christi triumphed over AHFC Royals and Brazos Valley Cavalry to guarantee a top-two finish, and would have one hand on the title if not for Texas United’s dominant trio of victories: two against Mississippi Brilla FC, and one against Houston FC.

Houston beat Brazos Valley 3–0 to close out the week, but it doesn’t look like either team will be able to catch the leaders.

1. Corpus Christi FC, 2. Texas United, 3. AHFC Royals, 4. Houston FC, 5. Brazos Valley Cavalry FC, 6. Mississippi Brilla FC.

Northeast Division

AC Connecticut and Boston Bolts played to a tense 1–1 draw to open the week, keeping the gap between them at two points and giving Connecticut the chance to take top spot with their game in hand against GPS Portland Phoenix.

But GPS shocked ACC with a 2–0 win, handing Boston the upper hand in the title race with two games left. Seacoast United Phantoms are still in with a shout thanks to a win and two draws this week, but they’ll need a lot of help over the home stretch to earn the Eastern Conference wild card berth.

1. Boston Bolts, 2. AC Connecticut, 3. Seacoast United Phantoms, 4. Western Mass Pioneers, 5. GPS Portland Phoenix, 6. Black Rock FC.

Mid Atlantic Division

Reading United has been showing its big game experience in recent weeks and continued to do so in Week 7, shutting out in-state rivals West Chester United SC (1–0) and Philadelphia Lone Star FC (2–0) to continue their pursuit of Lehigh Valley United.

Lehigh Valley gave no ground at first, picking up two wins of their own (both against Ocean City Nor’easters). But tired legs gave out in their third game of the week, as they suffered their first loss of the campaign (0–3 to West Chester, turning Reading’s glimmer of hope into a significant beam.

1. Lehigh Valley United, 2. Reading United AC, 3. Evergreen FC, 4. Philadelphia Lone Star FC, 5. West Chester United SC, 6. Ocean City Nor’easters, 7. FC Bascome Bermuda.

Metropolitan Division

FA Euro started the season very slowly, but have really found their form in recent games. The New Yorkers are now unbeaten in five, this week adding a 5–0 thrashing of Manhattan SC and a 1–0 win over Long Island Rough Riders to their resume.

Those results moved FA Euro to the top of the table, though admittedly they’re level on points with both Manhattan and Cedar Stars and have played three more games than the former.

Manhattan recovered from its blowout loss in impressive style, beating New York Red Bulls U23 3–0. Westchester compounded the Red Bulls’ misery by defeating them 1–0, and the Flames then drew 1–1 with Cedar Stars to close out the week.

1. FA Euro New York, 2. Manhattan SC, 3. Cedar Stars Rush, 4. Westchester Flames, 5. Long Island Rough Riders, 6. New York Red Bulls U23.

Wild Card Races

Below are the rankings of the second-placed teams in each conference as things stand. With two weeks remaining, these are the teams that are top contenders for wild card playoff places.

1. Texas United, 2. FC Manitoba, 3. AFC Ann Arbor.
1. AC Connecticut, 2. Reading United AC, 3. Manhattan SC.
1. SC United Bantams, 2. The Villages SC, 3. Virginia Beach United.
1. OVF Alliance, 2. San Francisco City FC, 3. Ogden City SC.

That’s it for Week 7! Check back next week as we should see the first batch of teams clinch playoff spots.

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