Path to the Four Corners Cup is clear; the playoff picture still clear as mud
New Mexico United’s path to hoisting the Four Corners Cup is simple; beat Phoenix and the Cup is theirs.
By Seth Biddulph | Photo: Adam Nish
Only two matches remain in the inaugural competition for the Four Corners Cup. With only Colorado Springs being mathematically eliminated so far, the door is open for any of the other three to take home silverware this season.
While Phoenix and Real struggled early in the season, United notched convincing wins against both Real and Colorado to take the reins in the cup standings. As the season progressed, Phoenix found their footing (and a 20 match win streak) and propelled themselves to the top of the Western Conference and back into contention for the Cup.
Real would also force their way back into the conversation with a shock win over United back in July. Without that result, the table would have only two clubs fighting for the hardware.
Of the clubs that still have a chance, United has the simplest scenario of the three; win and the Cup is theirs.
That’s not the only possible scenario that could play out, however. Here are the remaining possible scenarios for each club to claim the Four Corners Cup.
New Mexico United – With a win United would clinch the Cup. The outcome of the Phoenix and Real match would not affect United.
New Mexico United – With a draw against Phoenix, United would need a Draw between Phoenix and Real on October 12.
Phoenix Rising – Win against both United and Real
Phoenix Rising – Draw with United and Win against Real
Phoenix Rising – Win against United and Draw with Real
Real Monarchs – Draw between United and Phoenix, Real defeats Phoenix
Real Monarchs – Phoenix wins against United, Real defeats Phoenix
|FOUR CORNERS CUP 19||W||L||T||Pts|
|New Mexico United||3||1||1||10|
|Real Monarchs SLC||3||2||0||9|
|Phoenix Rising FC||2||0||2||8|
At the time of writing, only five clubs have been mathematically eliminated from the playoff picture. Two from the West; Colorado Springs and Tacoma, and three from the East; Charlotte, Hartford, and Swope Park. The Western Conference is still as muddled as ever, with only five points separating the clubs sitting in eighth through fourteenth.
Both Rio Grande Valley FC and Tulsa Roughnecks could potentially be eliminated this weekend, reducing the possible number of contenders in the Western Conference to 14.
New Mexico United’s best chances at securing a playoff spot may not come until their final four matches, which are all against clubs below the current cutoff line. If they could somehow pull out a point against Phoenix Rising this weekend, it would give them a lot of confidence going into the last few weeks of the season.
The Rest of the West
Three of the six guaranteed spots have already been claimed, leaving thirteen other clubs to fight for the other three spots plus the four play-in positions. For the majority of the season, the clubs have fought for the middle of the table and it’s going to come down to who can get hot at the right time. The question is how will the table shake out?
Sacramento Republic FC – Sacramento sits in a good position heading into the final few weeks of the season and has the talent to finish strong. Prediction: 4th
Orange County SC – After a return to the form they exhibited last year, they’ve played much better in recent months and are poised to make a return to the playoffs. Prediction: 5th
New Mexico United – With a very favorable end of the schedule, United could make a huge jump in the table and avoid one of the play-in positions. Prediction: 6th
Real Monarchs SLC – A very tough back end of the schedule could limit how high Real could reach as they play five clubs above the current cutoff line. Prediction: 7th
Austin Bold FC – Four matches to go and a rough run of recent form could see Bold slip up against an unexpected opponent. Prediction: 8th
LA Galaxy II – Los Dos turned around their season and have been playing very well of late. With a more favorable schedule than El Paso, despite having fewer matches left to play they could sneak into the ninth spot. Prediction: 9th
El Paso Locomotive FC – El Paso has six matches left to play, more than any other club still in contention, they could pull off a surprise result or two and potentially jump Los Dos, but it isn’t likely given their upcoming schedule. Prediction: 10th
Strangers from the East
Unlike the West, the Eastern Conference has more breathing room for the clubs in contention for the playoff spots. Five clubs have already secured playoff berths and ten are still in the running for the final spots.
Louisville City FC – With favorable results, the club could still end up as high as fourth in the standings, and could secure their spot in the playoffs before they even play this weekend. Louisville has been a very strong contender in the East all season long. Prediction: 6th
Ottawa Fury FC – Unlike Louisville or North Carolina, Ottawa can’t mathematically clinch a playoff spot this weekend even with favorable results. Ottawa does have a real chance at closing the gap to North Carolina and are more likely to put together a string of positive results. Prediction: 7th
North Carolina FC – NCFC has struggled to put together strings of positive results and the same could happen to them in the final weeks. Without one, they could slip in the standings opening up chances for Ottawa and Saint Louis. Prediction: 8th
Saint Louis FC – The Eastern Conference club to go the furthest in the U.S. Open cup this year suffered during their Cup run just like New Mexico United did. They’ve had favorable results of late and could find their way into the playoffs. Prediction: 9th
Charleston Battery – Charleston has a tough test this weekend as they take on New York Red Bulls II, but an earlier victory against them gives them hope of a repeat performance. Prediction: 10th
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