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Pittsburgh Riverhounds

Race to First: Nashville victory means Hounds must win Sunday to claim Eastern Conference’s top spot

Photo courtesy Nashville SC

Nashville SC took care of business on Saturday, beating Atlanta United 2, 3-0, to move — temporarily — into first place in USL Championship Eastern Conference standings.

Nashville currently sit at the top of the table with 67 points after winning four straight to close out its regular season.

This sets the stage for the Riverhounds SC, currently with 65 points, needing a win at Birmingham on Sunday to claim the top spot in the Eastern Conference.

Most of the remaining playoff spots in the Eastern Conference were sorted out on Saturday.

Charlotte Independence, the Hartford Athletic, and North Carolina FC all produced late winners to defeat Ottawa Fury FC, the Tampa Bay Rowdies, and Saint Louis FC respectively, dealing blows to all three’s playoff standings. NCFC’s win and Ottawa’s loss means the former enter the Play-In Round as the No. 7 seed, while Ottawa will enter as the No. 8 seed.

St. Louis’ loss also clinched a playoff spot for the Hounds’ opponent on Sunday, Birmingham Legion FC. This now sets up an interesting scenario where Birmingham may consider resting numerous key players, as they will have to play on Wednesday night in a play-in match. If they win, they’ll clinch the 9th seed, and travel to Ottawa. With a loss on Sunday, Birmingham will travel to North Carolina.

In other results, Loudoun United FC outscored New York Red Bulls II in a 10-goal affair that saw the hosts close out the regular season with a 7-3 win at Segra Field, pushing the Baby Bulls, who were once in first place, to a sixth place finish.

Hard-charging defending USL champions, Louisville City FC clinched a home playoff game for the fifth straight season thanks to Hartford and Loudoun United’s results on top of a 2-1 win over Memphis 901 FC at AutoZone Park.

The Charleston Battery punched its ticket to the postseason with a 5-1 win over Bethlehem Steel FC in the club’s final game at MUSC Health Stadium.

The Eastern Conference quarterfinal match-ups that are set for next weekend include: Indy Eleven hosting NY Red Bulls II and Louisville City FC hosting the Tampa Bay Rowdies.

All of the other playoff match-ups will still be determined by what happens in Birmingham on Sunday.


Pos. P W L T GD Pts Form
Nashville SC
Nashville SC 34 20 7 7 33 67
Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC
Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC 33 18 4 11 27 65
Indy Eleven
Indy Eleven 34 19 9 6 19 63
Louisville City FC
Louisville City FC 34 17 8 9 17 60
Tampa Bay Rowdies
Tampa Bay Rowdies 34 16 8 10 28 58
New York Red Bulls II
New York Red Bulls II 34 17 11 6 23 57
North Carolina FC
North Carolina FC 34 16 10 8 20 56
Ottawa Fury FC
Ottawa Fury FC 34 14 10 10 7 52
Charleston Battery
Charleston Battery 34 11 10 13 0 46
Birmingham Legion FC
Birmingham Legion FC 33 12 14 7 -15 43
Saint Louis FC
Saint Louis FC 34 11 14 9 -1 42

John Krysinsky has covered soccer and other sports for many years for various publications and media outlets. He is also author of 'Miracle on the Mon' -- a book about the Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC, which chronicles the club, particularly the early years of Highmark Stadium with the narrative leading up to and centered around a remarkable match that helped provide a spark for the franchise. John has covered sports for Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, DK Pittsburgh Sports, Pittsburgh Sports Report, has served as color commentator on Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC broadcasts, and worked with OPTA Stats and broadcast teams for US Open Cup and International Champions Cup matches held in the US. Krysinsky also served as the Head Men’s Soccer Coach at his alma mater, Point Park University, where he led the Pioneers to the first-ever winning seasons and playoff berths (1996-98); head coach of North Catholic boys (2007-08), associate head coach of Shady Side Academy boys (2009-2014).

PItt MF Michael Sullivan

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