Salt Lake’s Surprise, History in Texas, and a PNW sweep headline the Week 9 action
June 27, 2023 by Alex Rubin in Recap with 0 comments
The favorites took care of business in week 9, with only one game decided by fewer than four goals. With just four weeks left in the regular season, the playoff picture is coming into focus, and some playoff spots have been clinched. Nothing is yet final, setting up an exciting stretch run with vital games each week. Here’s how everything is shaping up, division-by-division.
Scores and Standings through Week 9
State of the Playoff Race
To start with the obvious, Houston and Dallas are eliminated. By definition that means Atlanta, Carolina, and Austin have clinched playoff spots, but the next few weeks will sort out their seeding and home field advantages. Atlanta and Carolina play each other twice, while Carolina has an additional
game win against Dallas scheduled. Austin will likely win its remaining three games (against Dallas and Houston). Because both Atlanta and Carolina have tiebreaker advantages over Austin, the Sol can finish no higher than second. Depending on what happens between the Hustle and Flyers, someone will probably have to make a challenging trek out to Texas for a playoff game.
Key Games: Atlanta @ Carolina (7/15), Carolina @ Atlanta (7/22)
With four teams very much in the playoff hunt, no team has officially clinched a spot yet, but Salt Lake is undefeated with two wins over Colorado, so they have the inside track for the division title. Colorado, Los Angeles, and Oakland each have three losses. At least one of those teams will miss the playoffs while San Diego and Seattle have a tiny outside chance to sneak in. The Aviators and Spiders play each other twice in the season’s final weeks; those games could effectively determine who makes it past the regular season. While Colorado does have a challenging game against New York left, it should easily dispatch Portland and Seattle to round out their schedule. While not mathematically eliminated, Portland is effectively out of contention with their 0-7 record.
Key Games: Los Angeles @ Oakland (7/15), Oakland @ Los Angeles (7/21)
With more parity than ever, even 0-7 Detroit is not technically eliminated yet from the Central Division playoff race. Minnesota and Indy lead the division at 6-2 and have put themselves in a strong position to clinch a playoff berth in the coming weeks. Chicago is the only other team with a winning record, but Pittsburgh and Madison have proven themselves to be potent spoilers – if not challengers – and they won’t go away quietly. Madison has lost six of their seven games by a combined 11 goals. A few inches here or there and we could be thinking of the Radicals as a genuine playoff threat. They’ll need to run the table to get into the post season, but it’s hard to say that’s impossible given their results. Pittsburgh meanwhile plays Chicago and Indianapolis twice each to close out the season. Some might think of that schedule as a challenge, but the Thunderbirds are surely looking at it as an opportunity to chip away at the games-back column. Chicago and Indy both still need to survive a trip to Minnesota, while the Wind Chill have a date at Breese Stevens Field remaining. In short, each team has some vulnerabilities heading into the stretch run.
Key Games: Pittsburgh @ Chicago (7/8), Indy @ Minnesota (7/9), Chicago @ Minnesota (7/15)
Let’s start with the easy facts: 0-9 Montreal is out. 8-0 New York is in. DC (6-2) is all but assured a playoff spot as well. That leaves 4-4 Boston, Philadelphia, and Toronto to battle it out for the last playoff spot. The Phoenix should have the inside track with their remaining challenging games (Boston, DC, Toronto) all coming at home. The Glory, meanwhile, need to travel to Philadelphia, Toronto, and DC and will have their work cut out, given their roster inconsistencies over the years. Three of the Rush’s four wins have come against Montreal, so Toronto will need to earn their first win over a quality team to advance to the playoffs. They also do have a freebie game against Detroit scheduled.
Key Games: Breeze @ Empire (6/30), Boston @ Toronto (7/1), Boston @ Philadelphia (7/7), Toronto @ Philadelphia (7/22)
News and Notes
- Colorado stopped a three game skid with a ten-point thumping over the Central Division leaders Minnesota.
- Indianapolis skated by Madison in the closest game of the week, winning by just a single goal.
- Atlanta outscored Dallas and Houston by 20 points combined in two wins this weekend.
- DC punctuated a long travel weekend with wins over Montreal and Boston.
|1||New York Empire||-||1|
|2||Salt Lake Shred||-||2|
|11||Minnesota Wind Chill||-||11|
|12||Los Angeles Aviators||-||12|
|20||San Diego Growlers||-6||14|
- The Spiders’ Week 8 win over Colorado bumps Oakland higher in our rankings, while the 3-loss Summit fall behind a trio of impressive East Coast teams.
- San Diego’s home loss to Seattle sees them sink down the standings.