The final week of the 2016 USL regular season is here, and for the local Southern California teams involved, the final game represents two very different scenarios.
For the Orange County Blues, their regular season finale against the Colorado Springs Switchbacks is a real do or die moment for their campaign. After losing 1-0 last week to Rio Grande Valley FC at home, they were dealt a major blow in their quest to qualify for the USL playoffs for the second straight year, and they must win against the Switchbacks to even have a chance at advancing. If they do win, they will still need additional help, as another three teams are also vying for the final playoff spot in the Western Conference and the Blues are no longer in pole position.
If the Blues win, they need San Antonio FC, who lead them by a point, to not win their final game, and they need Portland Timbers 2, level with them on points but ahead in goal difference, to either not win or to overcome the -1 goal difference deficit if both teams happen to win. As you can see, a win itself is not enough for Orange County, who will need help from one or two other teams just to get that final playoff slot. They are in a real battle, and you can check out the must-win game against Colorado Springs for yourself on Saturday at Anteater Stadium in Irvine. Kickoff is scheduled for 7 pm PT.
In contrast, LA Galaxy II have booked their ticket to the postseason already and Saturday’s showdown against Real Monarchs at home only counts to play out the string, playoff seeding, and getting the team in the right mode ahead of the playoffs. Sitting in sixth place at present, Galaxy II could move as high as fourth in the West with a win, although Real Monarchs are technically still alive for the same playoff spot the Blues are aiming for, although Real Salt Lake’s reserve team needs even more help than Orange County to qualify.
LA have only lost one of their last five games, so they’re in solid shape, and a 1-1 draw against NorCal rivals Sacramento Republic on the road last weekend is a good result with the playoffs approaching. Those two teams have met in the playoffs the last two seasons — will they write another chapter in their rivalry in the 2016 playoffs?
Whether they will or not, LA will most likely be aiming to fine tune their approach in Saturday’s game against Real Monarchs. There won’t be the same playoff intensity for them as for the Blues, for obvious reasons, but Curt Onalfo’s squad will be looking to put their best foot forward to be in consideration for playing time in the business end of the season.
If you’re interested in catching LA Galaxy II’s regular season finale, you can catch them in action against Real Monarchs at StubHub Center’s Track and Field Stadium on Saturday. Kickoff is scheduled for 7:30 pm PT.
So, will the Blues have games to play after Saturday? Will LA get a better seed in their quest to return to the USL final this year? Tune in Saturday to find out!