With the Orange County Pateadores announcement that they would be forced to forfeit the last three matches of the season, we explore the impact this has on playoff qualifications for the West Region’s Southern Flight.
The clear winner is FC Hasental who will get a free three points - enough to almost assuredly hand them first place in the Southern Division. Orange County had kept Hasental from receiving full points in both previous matchups this season, which both ended in draws. If Orange County had managed another draw or dealt Hasental a defeat, this would have greatly aided their own title hopes as well as Santa Clarita’s.
Incidentally, Santa Clarita also pick three points from Orange County - whom they lost to twice earlier in the season. Santa Clarita currently trails Hasental by 4 points, and even though the three points are a boost, the fact that Hasental will get three free voids this contribution to Santa Clarita and in fact makes it impossible for the second place Storm to move into first place - even they manage to knock off Hasental and the San Diego Flash in their remaining two contests.
The real loser is the San Diego Flash who unlike Hasental and Santa Clarita defeated Orange County twice out of three meetings. Because of the free points being awarded to first place Hasental and second place Santa Clarita, the Flash now have no hope of taking over the title, even should they win each of their last two matches. Further, heading into last weekend the San Diego and Santa Clarita were tied on points, with the tie-breaker going to San Diego on goal differential. Santa Clarita leaped clear of the Flash with the forfeit victory while San Diego only managed a draw with last place San Diego Boca. The Flash will likely pick up three points this weekend against Las Vegas, but could find themselves still on the outside of a playoff spot if Santa Clarita defeats Hasental this weekend. This would take the playoff race down to the season finale in which the Flash will host the Storm in San Diego. Should that be the case, Santa Clarita could advance with win or draw while San Diego could only advance with a win.
Essentially, the Orange County forfeits have big playoff implications. Hasental suddenly finds that they have clinched the division (and a playoff spot) while the the Flash find themselves in a situation where they almost have to win each of their remaining matches. Santa Clarita will be disappointed that they don’t have a shot at the title, but have less pressure than San Diego to win both of their remaining matches and still claim the last playoff spot.
And while San Diego Boca will also pick up a forfeit victory, the extra points really only mean that Boca might be able to finish second to last instead of last.