With just a few matches left in the NPSL regular season, the 2nd guaranteed playoff spot in the Golden Gate Conference will be determined in the next few weeks. CD Aguiluchos USA already clinched the top spot in the Conference three weeks ago. The 2nd place spot has been a heated battle between three clubs, two former NPSL National champions, the Sacramento Gold and the Sonoma Sol, as well as the East Bay FC Stompers. All three clubs are also in play for a wild card spot in the West Region, but this is much less likely.
CD Aguiluchos USA
Remaining Games: 2
Points (Points per Game): 25 (2.5)
Goal Differential: +9
Since the Aguiluchos have already clinched the Conference title, all they have left to play for is home field advantage for the playoffs. They currently hold the best points per game average in the West Region. This should give them at least home field advantage through the Western Regional playoffs. FC Arizona is closest to Aguiluchos in the region with 2.43 points per game. So with two games remaining, CDA still have something to play for.
Remaining Games: 1
Points (Points per Game): 16 (1.45)
Goal Differential: +7
Sacramento is the only team at this point that have slowed down the Aguiluchos. They have done so twice this season, picking up both a win and a draw against them. The win this past Sunday vs. Aguiluchos put the Gold in the driver’s seat for the 2nd guaranteed playoff spot. With only one game remaining, their fate for the most part, is in their own hands. If they win at home against East Bay in two weeks, the Gold can lock up the 2nd spot if Sonoma drop just one more point.
Sonoma County Sol
Remaining Games: 3
Points (Points per Game): 10 (1.11)
Goal Differential: 0
The Sol has struggled to show their traditional dominance over the Conference this year as they have done in past years. They are the defending Golden Gate Conference and West Region champions. The Sol find themselves in a situation where they need to win out to make the playoffs. They have three games remaining and can pick up a total of 9 points, and even then they would need Sacramento to lose or draw their final game. The playoff push for the Sol begins with a trip to the Stompers this weekend in a must win game for both clubs. A draw doesn’t officially rule them out of contention, but will make it really hard for the Sol to return to the playoffs this season.
East Bay FC Stompers
Remaining Games: 2
Points (Points per Game): 11 (1.1)
Goal Differential: -6
The Stompers missed a golden opportunity to put themselves in a prime position when they dropped 2 points against winless Napa Valley this past weekend. With just two games remaining, the Stompers must win both games to return to the playoffs for a 2nd time ever. They first host the Sol this coming weekend in a must win match. If they are able to beat the Sol, it will line up an exciting final day game between East Bay and Sacramento, just like last year. The Stompers will head to Sacramento on July the 1st to play a match that would decide the 2nd guaranteed playoff berth.
The Sacramento Gold controls their own destiny for the most part. A win in their final game against East Bay most likely guarantees them a spot in the playoffs. It would take a miracle three wins in three games from Sonoma to change that. The Stompers have a chance, but must win both of their remaining games. Following Sonoma’s visit to East Bay this weekend, one less Golden Gate team will still be in the playoff hunt.
As of now, it is highly unlikely that the Golden Gate Conference will receive any of the wild card spots for points per game as both the Southwest and the Northwest Conference’s have teams significantly higher in their points per game averages. The highest any of the Golden Gate Conference teams could reach is 1.58 ppg, while the current cut off is at 1.92 ppg with multiple other teams in front of them.