USL Playoffs: Red Bulls II take best record into postseason

Overall points leader Red Bulls II heads the USL's Eastern Conference playoff field for first-round, sinlge-elimination games this weekend. Red Bulls II set a league record by piling up 69 points, nearly twice as many as No. 8 Orlando City B (35).

Defending champion Rochester just edged into the top four to earn a home playoff date with Charlotte, which is in the postseason for the first time. 

Saturday

No. 4 Rochester (13-5-12, 51 points) vs. No. 5 Charlotte (14-8-8, 50 pts.), 6:05 p.m. ET.
Defending champion Rochester needed a win and a Charlotte tie to get this playoff matchup at Rhino Field, where the home team finished 9-2-5 by beating Toronto FC II, 1-0, on the final day of the season. They are led by top goalscorer Christian Volesky (10 goals), dual-threat Steevan Dos Santos (eight goals, five assists) and Golden Glover winner Tomas Gomez (0.69 goals-allowed average).

In its first postseason appearance, the Independence is yet another playoff team not reliant on a monster goalscorer. Brian Brown and Enzo Martinez led the team with nine apiece, and three other players scored at least six.

Charlotte failed to score against Rochester in their two regular-meetings, but the Rhinos got just one goal – by Dos Santos – in the two games.
 
Sunday
No. 1 NY Red Bulls II (21-3-6, 69 pts.) vs. No. 8 Orlando City B (9-13-8, 35 pts.), 4 p.m. ET.

The best record, most wins, and most goals (61) stamp Red Bulls II as a strong favorite to win it all. A stingy defense (league-fewest 21 goals allowed) and attackers such as Brandon Allen (15 goals), plus the momentum of winning nine of the last 10 games has this team in the spotlight.

Orlando City B barely squeaked into the playoffs by ending an eight-game winless streak thanks to a 2-0 decision against Bethlehem Steel. But the Lions had already reeled off a nine-game unbeaten run to get into playoff contention and that run included road wins at Louisville City and Charleston. Michael Cox led them in goals with 11.

Their meeting at Titan Soccer Complex in May ended, 2-2, but Red Bulls II romped, 5-1, at Red Bull Arena Aug. 12.
 
No. 3 FC Cincinnati (16-6-8, 56 pts.) vs. No. 6 Charleston (13-8-9, 48 pts.), 4 p.m. ET. 
An amazing first season at Nippert Stadium, where FCC smashed league attendance records by averaging 17,296 fans per game, sets up what should be a memorable playoff debut. As of midweek, the team had sold more than 15,000 tickets for its postseason match.

Sean Okoli took the Golden Boot award by scoring 16 goals and Cincy ranked among the defensive leaders with 27 goals conceded. The Battery has been deprived of attacking catalyst Julian Portillo, who has come down with acute appendicitis, but still has Mikael Chang (six goals, six assists) and loanee (from Montreal Impact) Romario Williams, the top scorer with 10.

Williams scored the goal in a 1-0 defeat of FC Cincinnati on the opening day of the season. The other match ended 1-1 at Nippert.
 
No. 2 Louisville City (17-4-9, 60 pts.) vs. No. 7 Richmond (12-9-9, 45 pts.), 7 p.m. ET.
LCFC’s Chandler Hoffman, formerly of the Galaxy, scored 14 goals to wind up second in the league. Captain Aodhan Quinn, son of former U.S. international Brian Quinn, orchestrates the attack from midfield.

The Kickers stabilized a rocky season by rolling through 10 games without a defeat but finished mired in a five-game winless run. Yudai Imura topped the scorers with 10 goals and also logged three assists. They overcame the early-season injury loss of Ryan Taylor by using five other keepers while conceding just 26 goals.

Richmond failed to score against Louisville City during the regular season. The teams tied, 0-0, in May, and LCFC took its home game, 2-0, with goals by Cameron Lancaster and Magnus Rasmussen.
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