By COLE KELLOGG
With the top three playoff positions set, the attention switches wholeheartedly to the race for the fourth and final seed.
The Tampa Bay Rowdies currently hold the spot, but they sit just one point ahead of the Fort Lauderdale Strikers and have played one more game. The Rowdies travel to the Atlanta Silverbacks this weekend, while the Strikers host the Carolina RailHawks.
Level on points with the Strikers is FC Edmonton, which travels to Florida to take on the Jacksonville Armada on Saturday.
The Silverbacks and the RailHawks are both still in the playoff race as well, and wins this weekend could really heat things up as the regular season winds down.
Here’s a closer look at this weekend’s match-ups:
ATLANTA SILVERBACKS vs. TAMPA BAY ROWDIES (Saturday, 7:30 p.m., WatchESPN)
The Atlanta Silverbacks will host the Tampa Bay Rowdies on Saturday, with the home side needing a win if they are to have a chance at the postseason.
The Silverbacks have stayed in the running by collecting five points from their last three matches, before a rough 3-0 loss to the New York Cosmos last time out.
Expect Pedro Mendes and Junior Burgos to be the difference if this side can challenge the Rowdies this weekend.
Coming off of that late Freddy Adu wonder assist against the Ottawa Fury, the Rowdies will be riding an emotional high and looking for all three points this weekend.
The Rowdies have no chance to slip up in the final three matches of the season, with several teams hot on their trail for the last playoff spot.
Adu and Brian Shriver were the two that connected late for the point-saving strike last weekend, and the same duo could be expected to get on the score sheet in Atlanta.
FORT LAUDERDALE STRIKERS vs. CAROLINA RAILHAWKS (Saturday, 7:30 p.m., WatchESPN)
While the Rowdies currently hold the final playoff spot, it is the Fort Lauderdale Strikers that sit in the strongest position.
The team from southern Florida has a fantastic opportunity to take 12 points from their final four matches, as the team faces off against four of the bottom five teams in the table.
The Strikers gave up two goals in the first 30 minutes against Minnesota United last weekend and will need to put together a strong-willed performance from the start to take all three points from this match.
Stefano Pinho, PC and Marlon Freitas are the Brazilian connection that are still the most likely to be the difference for the Strikers.
This weekend may be the hardest of upcoming tests for the Strikers, as the RailHawks are coming off of a surprising 2-1 midweek victory over FC Edmonton.
Nazmi Albadawi has scored three goals in the last two matches, while Nacho Novo has returned to spectacular form and delivered two goals in three games.
INDY ELEVEN vs. MINNESOTA UNITED (Saturday, 7:30 p.m., WatchESPN)
Can the tremendous atmosphere from the Indy Eleven home fans inspire the most unlikely of wins against the hottest team in the league on Saturday?
The Eleven have only collected two points in their last five matches, but what seems unlikely is still entirely possible in a league with the parity of the NASL.
Right winger Dane Richards and midfield engine Marvin Ceballos will be key if the Eleven have a chance to score against United this weekend.
As has consistently been the theme for this United team, fluidity and terrific understanding all over the pitch has created a team dynamic in which anybody can score.
The attacking firepower of Ibson, Christian Ramirez, Daniel Mendes, Kalif Alhassan, or Pablo Campos could and likely will see this team win this match easily.
JACKSONVILLE ARMADA vs. FC EDMONTON (Saturday, 7:30 p.m., WatchESPN)
FC Edmonton will need to win its final two matches in order to stay in contention for the fourth playoff seed.
After an uncharacteristic loss to the Carolina RailHawks on Wednesday, the team is level on points with the Strikers with two more games played.
Daryl Fordyce is almost certain to score once again on Saturday, but he will need the assistance of Dustin Corea and Ritchie Jones to pull out a win this weekend.
The Armada have been up and down as of late, recording a record of L- L-W-D-L in their last five matches.
If the team is to compete at home this weekend, Alhassane Keita or Jaime Castrillon will need to find the top form that they possessed earlier this year.
OTTAWA FURY vs. SAN ANTONIO SCORPIONS (Sunday, 3 p.m., WatchESPN)
The Ottawa Fury are in a tight three-way battle for the the top seed and could easily fall as low as third if they don’t finish the regular season strong.
They have a fairly easy schedule to close out the year, but the San Antonio Scorpions could put up a fight on Sunday.
Tom Heinemann has been in top form for the Fury in recent weeks, and Sinisa Ubiparipovic has picked up his form in big games down the stretch.
The Scorpions are unlikely to reach the postseason at this point, although they are not mathematically out of the running just yet.
Two goals from unexpected faces in Giuseppe Gentile and Kris Tyrprak led the Scorpions to a road victory over Indy Eleven last weekend, but the side is going to need more to defeat the Fury team that has led the table for most of the fall.