Tuesday, August 13, 2013

USL Pro Spotlight - The Game for a Throne

Article By: Pedro Gomes

                                     
The USL Pro season is nearing its end and the battle for the Regular Season title comes to a head on Wednesday night when the Richmond Kickers host Orlando City at 7 PM Eastern. Richmond and Orlando City are currently tied for 1st in the USL Pro standings with 51 points and only 2 games remaining in their schedules. A win by either club will determine who will be crowned the Regular Season Champions as well as guarantee that team home field advantage through the playoffs.

A draw however, complicates the title chase a bit. If, the contest does finish in a draw then the Regular Season Championship will be determined by the results of each club’s matches during the weekend. Richmond will face the Pittsburgh Riverhounds on the road and Orlando City will host the Charlotte Eagles at the Florida Citrus Bowl.

If both teams finish the season level on points, then the title will go to the USL Pro tie-breaker criteria which include 10 criteria listed in order of importance for which we will only list the first 5:
  1. Head-to-head record based on total points in league games
  2. Total wins in league games
  3. Goal difference in league games
  4. Goals scored in league games
  5. Total points within smallest grouping. If number of games is unequal, then point percentage will be used
Since the Richmond Kickers currently hold the advantage in the head-to-head matchup against Orlando City (They handed them a 2-0 defeat at the Citrus Bowl back on June 29) they would be crowned Regular Season Champions.

Hopefully, that has clarified the qualifiers for the Regular Season crown. Now that leaves us the question of what type of advantage or benefit does a club have in winning the Regular Season title versus the USL Pro Championship? Well, there are two distinct advantages for the winning club.

First, they receive home field advantage throughout the playoffs. That may not seem like a very big benefit but when you consider that USL Pro playoffs are a single elimination format it seems a nice benefit to have. Then when you consider that Richmond has yet to lose a game at home this season (7-0-6) and that Orlando City holds a 11-2-0 record at home the home field advantage becomes even more inviting.


Aside from the competitive advantage, each club will probably see a significant monetary advantage as well. In theory, each club could host an additional 3 home games throughout the playoffs which could add significant dollars to their bottom lines. For example, is Orlando City hosts an additional 3 games with 10,000 fans in attendance each paying an average of $10 per ticket, then Orlando could theoretically rake in an additional $300,000 in ticket sales not even including concessions. These are big numbers for USL Pro operating budgets.

As you can see, the match on Wednesday carries some significant weight and with both clubs having such storied seasons there is no better match up to crown a potential Regular Season Champion. Come Wednesday night neither team will be looking to end the match with a draw. You can expect that both clubs will be battling hard to ensure they leave City Stadium with that much coveted title and significant advantage heading into the post-season, which begins on August 24. 

So buckle in folks, you are in for quite a ride.

Photo Credit: Joe Petro

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