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Home or away? Playoff picture to be decided Saturday

By Riverhounds Staff, 10/28/21, 12:30PM EDT

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Games in Pittsburgh, Birmingham and Austin to determine Hounds' first-round matchup


Fans celebrate the opening goal in the Hounds' last home playoff game, Nov. 2, 2019 against Louisville City FC.

The Riverhounds know they’re going to the playoffs; that much is assured.

Where they play and who they will face remains unknown, and it might not even be decided by the time the Hounds walk off the field Saturday night after hosting Hartford Athletic in a 7 p.m. match at Highmark Stadium.

The first step of the equation is a simple one: The Hounds (17-8-6) must win against Hartford to have any chance of passing the Charlotte Independence (18-9-4) for second place in the Atlantic Division. If the Hounds do not win, they will be locked in as the No. 3 team coming out of the division.

If the Hounds win, all eyes will turn to Charlotte’s match at 9 p.m. on the road against the Austin Bold. If that match ends with a Charlotte loss or a draw, the Hounds take the No. 2 spot and will host Central Division third-place Memphis 901 FC in the first round of the playoffs Saturday, Nov. 6.

Working in the Hounds’ favor in that match is Austin’s desperate playoff position. The Bold must win the match and get a loss by Rio Grande Valley FC and a loss or draw by New Mexico United to qualify for the playoffs, but Austin’s hopes will be alive and well when the opening whistle blows in Texas.

If the Hounds do slip to the No. 3 spot, the other game of interest will be between Birmingham Legion FC and Louisville City FC in a de facto Central Division title game at 7:30 p.m.

Homestanding Birmingham would need only a draw to clinch the top seed, which would send the Hounds to Louisville to open the playoffs for a second consecutive season. If Louisville gets the win and the top spot, the Hounds would be off to Birmingham to face the Legion, against whom the Hounds scored their famous 7-0 playoff win in 2019.

Got all that? If not, it’s fine, just use the handy guide below. And just remember that everything needs to start with a Hounds win on Saturday!

 

Result — playoff destination

• Hounds loss or tie — Away at Birmingham/Louisville loser (LOU if tie game), date TBD

• Hounds win, Charlotte win — Away at Birmingham/Louisville (LOU if tie game), date TBD

• Hounds win, Charlotte loss or tie — Home vs. Memphis, Saturday, Nov. 6