The Orange County Blues took a huge step towards playoff qualification for the 2015 USL season on Saturday, when they beat Portland Timbers 2 3-1 at Anteater Stadium. Not only did they chip away at the nine points they needed heading into the weekend's action to clinch a playoff berth, they moved up the standings and lowered their magic number even more.
According to USL's handy-dandy Playoffs Tracker page (which is totally awesome, I will reiterate), the Blues' magic number to ensure qualification for the postseason is now four points, so Saturday's game (plus results elsewhere, especially Sacramento Republic's defeat of Tulsa Roughnecks) was actually a "five-pointer." I know that's not really a thing, but in this case, it was!
The good news is that Orange County have four games to pick up four points, and on top of that, they have a teeny bit of breathing room for the moment in the standings, as they've moved up to fourth place, though it must be noted they are tied with the third-place team, Colorado Springs, as well as the fifth-place team, Seattle Sounders 2, and are a mere point ahead of the sixth-place team, Sacramento. So they've moved up, which is great, but it's a precarious position at present. However, they are three points ahead of Tulsa, who are the first team out of the playoff spots at present, so they've got some space to cushion any blows that could come in the final four games.
That's the final point: Though OC only need four points in four games, they've got some tough games coming up, against LA Galaxy II on Saturday, who they've never beaten in history, on the road against Seattle, which will be a toughie, another road clash two days later against the Vancouver Whitecaps 2, who are out of playoff contention but could still be a dangerous team to face, and finally against Sac Republic. Three of those four teams also appear to be playoff-bound, barring a September collapse. That said, if results go the Blues' way, like they did on Saturday, the magic number could shrink even without them picking up maximum points.
Should be an exciting ride the next couple weeks!
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