Charlotte Independence — Playoff Projection
On the back of a 6 game winning streak, Charlotte find themselves in 2nd place. The. Highest. They. Have. Ever. Been.
A playoff spot is virtually assured unless they have a complete and utter catastrophe. The final playoff spots, based on team’s current point per game is going to be around 39–40 points, Charlotte have 31 points in the first half of the season. Even a huge injury crisis won’t stop them from picking up 9+ points, especially with 4 games remaining against the dregs of the Eastern Conference, Toronto & Richmond.
Key games to secure a playoff spot: 7/26 v Richmond, 8/9 at Toronto, 8/26 v Toronto, 9/2 v Richmond
So if a top 8 spot is assumed, whats its going to take to finish in the top 4 to get a home playoff game? Bethlehem & Rochester are both on pace for 50–51 points to finish in 4th and 5th, so about 20 more points will possibly get the job done. Is 7 wins in the final 16 probable? Probably. They’ve racked up 9 wins in the first half and have 7 games remaining against clubs 9th or lower.
Key games to secure 4th or higher: 7/29 v Bethlehem, 8/16 v Bethlehem, 9/23 at Tampa Bay
Can we aim even higher and finish 2nd? Entirely possible. On a points per game basis there is a significant gap between the top 3 and the rest. Louisville started impressively with 25 points after 12 games but have faltered lately with 2 losses and a draw in their last 4. A draw at Charleston is a fine result, but losses at Harrisburg and home to Cincinnati could be pivotal in the race for 2nd.
There isn’t much of a difference in the remaining games between Charlotte & Louisville, both teams have 9 at home and 7 away. They have 8 identical matchups with another common opponent in Harrisburg, that leaves 5 unique matchups each. While Charlotte gets Charleston and Tampa away, we also get Toronto and Richmond at home. Most of Louisville’s unique matchups are midtable. Realistically, the 2 matchups between Charlotte and Louisville will go a long way to determining 2nd.
Key matchups to finish 2nd: 8/5 v Louisville, 10/7 at Louisville
Can Charlotte aim even higher and attempt to win the conference? Absolutely. Charleston have been the class of the Eastern Conference but even with an abundance of talent throughout their squad, Romario Williams still sets their team apart from the rest. They failed to finish their chances vs St Louis in his absence, and if he misses another 7–10 days representing Jamaica in the Gold Cup, then their next 2–3 games become much trickier.
Charlotte have 2 games in hand and the clubs remaining schedules are similar in strength with 6 identical matches and 2 common opponents.
Key Matchups: Sep 9th at Charleston, Oct 14th v Charleston