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Race to the 2023 USL League One Playoffs - Week 27

By ETHAN TRIEBSCH -, 09/14/23, 10:45AM EDT


Trio of teams set to clinch, be eliminated in Week 27

With five weeks and 33 matches remaining in the regular season, the pressure is rising with all 12 clubs remaining in contention for the 2023 USL League One Playoffs. Detailed below are some high-stakes matches to keep an eye on along with current standings with playoff-clinching details

Thursday, September 14

The 14th all-time meeting between Henny Derby rivals Forward Madison FC and the Richmond Kickers has a lot on the line. A loss for Madison would allow them to fall below the playoff line by the end of the week, while a loss for Richmond would all but eliminate any chances of returning to the postseason.

Saturday, September 16

A pivotal matchup – especially if Madison fails to defeat Richmond on Thursday – awaits Knoxville and Greenville, with the winner having a chance to jump as high as fifth in the table. This match could go a long way in determining which two sides will claim the final few postseason spots.


Sunday, September 17

The only match that doesn’t have any Week 27 playoff implications, Lexington’s contest against Charlotte will have a big impact on both side’s postseason hopes in the coming weeks. A Lexington win keeps the first-year side’s playoff hopes alive, while a Charlotte win would mean the Players’ Shield could still be within reach.

1. North Carolina FC
Record: 15-6-5, 50pts

Playoffs Odds: >99%

Magic Number: 2

Max Points Available: 68
Strength of Schedule: 10th

Projected Finish: 1st (48%)

Up Next: vs. TRM (9/16)
By virtue of a tiebreaker all North Carolina need to do to lock up its first postseason appearance since 2019 is win or draw against South Georgia.


KNX loss/draw vs. GVL
2. Northern Colorado Hailstorm FC
Record: 14-5-7, 49pts

Playoffs Odds: >99%

Magic Number: 3

Max Points Available: 67
Strength of Schedule: 9th

Projected Finish: 2nd (36%)

Up Next: at CV (9/16)
Éamon Zayed and company have put together a really exciting, really effective product. The high-flying Hailstorm are just a win away from locking up their first-ever postseason berth.


KNX loss/draw vs. GVL
3. Union Omaha
Record: 14-5-7, 49pts

Playoffs Odds: >99%

Magic Number: 3

Max Points Available: 67
Strength of Schedule: 11th

Projected Finish: 3rd (39%)

Up Next: at CHA (9/16)
Unbeaten in a league-record eight consecutive, the Owls have soared up the standings and now have a 22% chance of finishing atop the table. Win on Saturday and they’re in the playoffs.


KNX loss/draw vs. GVL
4. Charlotte Independence
Record: 12-8-7, 43pts

Playoffs Odds: >99%

Magic Number: 9

Max Points Available: 58
Strength of Schedule: 8th

Projected Finish: 4th (68%)

Up Next: at LEX (9/17)
The Jacks aren’t able to clinch this week but are still in a good position heading into the final stretch. Charlotte are close to locking up a top-four finish for the first time in club history.
5. Forward Madison FC
Record: 10-8-8, 38pts

Playoffs Odds: 85%

Magic Number: 14

Max Points Available: 56
Strength of Schedule: 1st

Projected Finish: 5th/6th (36%)

Up Next: vs. RIC (9/14)
Madison have never been able to close out seasons. The ‘Mingos have won less points through their final 10 matches of a season in each of their four previous seasons, and with the toughest remaining schedule looming, things could get messy in Madison.
6. Greenville Triumph SC
Record: 10-9-7, 37pts

Playoffs Odds: 81%

Magic Number: 15

Max Points Available: 55
Strength of Schedule: 12th

Projected Finish: 5th (37%)

Up Next: at KNX (9/16)
With the easiest remaining schedule in the league, Greenville might just be a lock to return to the playoffs for the fifth consecutive season - in its fifth season of existence. Still, an incredibly consequential match against Knoxville on Saturday could mix things up.

7. One Knoxville SC
Record: 9-9-9, 36pts

Playoffs Odds: 31%

Magic Number: N/A

Max Points Available: 51
Strength of Schedule: 6th

Projected Finish: 7th (51%)

Up Next: vs. GVL (9/16)
Knoxville are riding a five-match unbeaten run - tied for the second longest in club history - and can jump back above the playoff line this weekend for the first time since June. Only Northern Colorado and Omaha have picked up more points across their last five than Knoxville.
8. South Georgia Tormenta FC
Record: 9-13-5, 32pts

Playoffs Odds: 3%

Magic Number: N/A

Max Points Available: 47
Strength of Schedule: 2nd

Projected Finish: 8th (50%)

Up Next: at NC (9/16)
It’s just about do or die for the defending champs as they travel to first-place NCFC this weekend. The Ibises are currently on track to become the first defending champ to miss out on the playoffs.
9. Lexington SC
Record: 7-12-8, 29pts

Playoffs Odds: <1%

Magic Number: N/A

Max Points Available: 44
Strength of Schedule: 3rd

Projected Finish: 9th (39%)

Up Next: vs. CLT (9/17)
Strong at home, Lexington need to grab as many points as possible from its remaining three matches at Toyota Stadium. If the next three matches go according to LSC’s plans, the home finale against first-place NCFC could be huge for the first-year side’s playoff hopes.
10. Richmond Kickers
Record: 6-10-10, 28pts

Playoffs Odds: <1%

Magic Number: N/A

Max Points Available: 43
Strength of Schedule: 5th

Projected Finish: 10th (42%)

Up Next: at MAD (9/14)
Not only is Richmond set to become the first Players’ Shield holder to miss out on the playoffs, but a finish anywhere below the playoff line would confirm the most significant drop in standings in league history from one season to the next.
11. Chattanooga Red Wolves SC
Record: 6-15-6, 24pts

Playoffs Odds: <1%

Magic Number: N/A

Max Points Available: 39
Strength of Schedule: 7th

Projected Finish: 11th (61%)

Up Next: vs. OMA (9/16)
Likely the third 2022 playoff team set to sit out the 2023 postseason - confirming a new league record should that occur - Chattanooga’s postseason desires will end with a loss against Omaha.


CHA draw vs. OMA AND GVL draw vs. KNX


MAD win at RIC AND GVL win vs. KNX
12. Central Valley Fuego FC
Record: 5-16-5, 20pts

Playoffs Odds: <1%

Magic Number: N/A

Max Points Available: 38
Strength of Schedule: 4th

Projected Finish: 12th (80%)

Up Next: vs. NCO (9/16)
While not completely out of the race, it’s time to focus on finishing strong, finding a solid permanent head coach and looking ahead to next season.


MAD win/draw at RIC AND GVL WIN vs. KNX

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