As the Fall Season in the NASL begins to wind down, the scenarios and battles for playoff positions continue to grow.
There are six clubs fighting for the fourth spot in the Combined Standings, the last ticket into the postseason, who are only separated by a margin of five points. One slip could break playoff hopes, while a crucial kick could bring postseason glory.
From FC Edmonton vs. Tampa Bay Rowdies to Miami FC vs. Rayo OKC, every single minute can change the fate of a team’s season.
Here is a look at this weekend’s crucial matches:
PUERTO RICO FC vs. MINNESOTA UNITED FC (Saturday, 7:30 pm, ESPN 3)
One of the few teams to not be in the hunt for the final playoff spot, Puerto Rico FC host Minnesota United on Saturday night down in the Caribbean.
Speaking of that last playoff spot, Minnesota United will try and regain sole possession of fourth place in the Combined Standings and the last playoff spot this weekend. The Loons are tied at 37 points with the Tampa Bay Rowdies, but sit ahead of the Florida club due to matches played already.
The Rowdies and the Loons drew 2-2 in their last match at Al Lang Stadium. Puerto Rico will try and continue a good spell for the expansion side, one that included last week’s 2-1 won over the Ottawa Fury.
MIAMI FC vs. RAYO OKC (Saturday, 8 pm, ESPN 3)
Miami FC are in dire need of points when they host Rayo OKC on the campus of FIU.
The South Florida club are one point behind the Rowdies and Loons for the fourth playoff spot, and unlike the two fourth place squads, Miami did not play on Wednesday night. Miami’s last result was a 1-1 draw with the Rowdies themselves in Tampa Bay.
Rayo OKC are still in the race mathematically, but if they want to catch up with the pack they must do so fast. The Oklahoma City club finds themselves five points back of fourth place in the Combined Standings entering the weekend after a disappointing home draw with the Carolina RailHawks last time out.
CAROLINA RAILHAWKS vs. FORT LAUDERDALE STRIKERS (Sunday, 1 pm, beIN Sports)
BeIn Sports’ weekend NASL international broadcast match has two clubs who are in similar positions in terms of the playoff picture. The Carolina RailHawks are three back of the last playoff spot, while the Fort Lauderdale Strikers finds themselves five points back of Minnesota for fourth.
This match was originally scheduled for Saturday in North Carolina, but with Hurricane Matthew making its approach up the East coast, the NASL was forced to change the date. The NASL announced yesterday that the match scheduled for Saturday, October 8 at WakeMed Soccer Park, has been postponed to Sunday, October 9 at 1 p.m. ET.
OTTAWA FURY FC vs. NEW YORK COSMOS (Sunday, 2 pm, ESPN3 & ONE World Sports)
The Ottawa Fury and New York Cosmos are two squads in extremely different situations as the season winds down.
While New York has wrapped up the number one seed for the NASL postseason, the Fury have dropped to tenth in Combined Standings, a whopping eight points behind Minnesota and Tampa Bay for fourth place.
The Fury’s consecutive defeats at the hands of Miami FC and Puerto Rico have made their playoff picture extremely dire as they host the league’s most dominant team this weekend. A win against the Cosmos could push the Fury back in the playoff race, but a stern test awaits them in the Canadian capital.
FC EDMONTON vs. TAMPA BAY ROWDIES (Sunday, 4 pm, ESPN 3)
The match of the weekend can perhaps be found in Edmonton, Alberta when FC Edmonton hosts the Tampa Bay Rowdies.
The Eddies are comfortably in the postseason, as the Canadian club are in second place with 47 points, ten ahead of the last playoff spot. The Rowdies on the other hand find themselves in the midst of the battle for fourth place, as they sit tied for the last playoff spot with Minnesota United.
A win for the Eddies would increase their second place advantage over the third place Indy Eleven to five points, while the Rowdies hope a win in Alberta could thrust them into sole possession of fourth place in the Combined Standings.