The final week of the USL Championship is here and the drama will be palpable under the Friday night lights as Memphis 901 FC travels to Albuquerque to face New Mexico United.
901 FC has completed their first goal of securing a playoff spot, but the No. 4 club in the Eastern Conference will still be looking for a result to clinch home field advantage in the first round postseason.
New Mexico won’t need any extra motivation as they compete for the final playoff spot in the Western Conference with Oakland and Monterey Bay not far behind in their rear view mirror.
United have answered the call when they needed it most lately with two crucial wins over Louisville City FC and Phoenix Rising FC in their past two matches. The 2-1 victory at Phoenix followed a 2-0 win over Louisville where the team held firm in a must-win match despite playing down with nine men.
901 FC carries their own momentum into the contest coming in from the Eastern Conference. Undefeated in four of their last five, Memphis is coming off of a strong 4-0 victory over El Paso Locomotive. 901 FC enjoyed a dominate overall performance including big shifts from players like Laurent Kissiedou, who recorded a goal and an assist and was one of three Beale Street Boys named to the Team of the Week.
“We’ve done it every week. We’ve suffered a few times defensively because we haven’t done the job we should have. But I think you can see the focus not to lose the ball tonight,” Head Coach Stephen Glass said after the win. “That team was pretty dangerous so we had to be on it and the way we started the second half was pretty impressive. We managed to hold on and see it out and we’re hoping to take care of business so we can be back here again.”
With a victory or draw in Albuquerque, Memphis will clinch the home playoff match and host Louisville City FC or Indy Eleven in the third home postseason match in club history. With a loss, Memphis would need help from Tampa Bay over Louisville on Saturday to host.
“We’ve had some really special nights and when we play at home it feels different,” Glass said. “I want to feel a playoff game at home. It’d be a chance to repay the fans for their belief in us this year. We’d love to repay them with a home game and a home victory.”
Kickoff for the interconference matchup is set for 8 p.m. CT. Fans can stream the match on ESPN+ and watch locally on WMC Bounce 5.2.