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Memphis 901 FC vs. Birmingham Legion preview: Push for home playoff game

Heading into last Saturday’s game at the Tampa Bay Rowdies, there was reason for optimism for Memphis 901 FC. They had just beaten the Rowdies at AutoZone Park in a wild game just two weeks prior. Not only that, but they were also riding a streak of four games out of five where they had picked up points. Needing just three points from their remaining four games to secure a third consecutive playoff appearance, the Beale Street Boys decided not to leave anything to chance and secured all three points by beating Tampa in their house. Rodrigo Da Costa dropped a hat trick and new signing Samuel Careaga added one for good measure meaning 901 FC ran out 4-2 winners and clinched a playoff spot.

But the job isn’t done for the Beale Street Boys. As wonderful as it is to be going back to the playoffs for the third time in club history, there is still an opportunity to make it even better. With three games to play in the regular season, 901 FC has the chance to get at least one home playoff game and perhaps more if A) they run the table by winning their final three games thus improving their seeding or B) chaos happening in the playoffs. 901 FC currently sits in 4th in the Eastern Conference tied with Louisville City on points, but ahead based on both head to head results and goal difference. But just ahead of 901 FC in third place is the Charleston Battery with 56 points. It would take a lot for Memphis to wind up in the third spot (they would need to win all three games and hope that Charleston only manages to get a total of two points from their final three games) but continuing to win is very important because of the current tie with Louisville for the fourth and final home playoff spot.

And anybody that needs a reminder of why hosting a home playoff game is so important they need to look no further that just last year. Following the conclusion of the 2022 regular season, 901 FC was the number 2 team in the Eastern Conference and earned a home playoff game against Detroit City, which they won in front of 6,010 fans at AutoZone Park. That was the third largest crowd of the season and coincided with the announcement of a possible soccer stadium. The following week was another home playoff game against the Tampa Bay Rowdies in front of the second largest home crowd of the year: 6,063.

But the next few games are not going to be some sort of cakewalk for Memphis. First in their way is a rivalry game against the Birmingham Legion. Not only has 901 FC not beaten the Legion this year (a 3-0 hammering in the Open Cup back in June and a 1-1 last week) but Birmingham is desperately pushing for their own spot in the playoffs. With three games to play they are currently in 7th place in the Eastern Conference but are perched quite precariously. They are only three points ahead of Detroit City for the final playoff spot, and even more concerning, just four points ahead of FC Tulsa who is currently in 9th and on the outside looking in. It all sets up for Saturday night at AutoZone Park to be a tense affair with so much on the line.

When, Where

Date: Saturday, September 30, 2023

Venue: AutoZone Park

City: Memphis, Tennessee

Time: 7pm CT

TV: WMC 5.2, ESPN+

Tickets: Single Game Tickets

All-Time Series

Memphis 901 FC trails 3-6-5

Last Meeting

Date: Wednesday, September 20, 2023

Venue: Protective Stadium

City: Birmingham, Alabama

Result: Memphis 901 FC 1-1 Birmingham Legion

Conference Standing

Memphis 901 FC: 4th in East (49pts, clinched playoff spot)

Birmingham Legion: 7th in East (40pts)

Next Game

Date: Saturday, October 7, 2023

Competition: USL Regular Season

Match-Up: Memphis 901 FC vs. El Paso Locomotive

Venue: AutoZone Park

City: Memphis, Tennessee

Time: 7pm CT

TV: WMC 5.2, ESPN+

Tickets: Single Game Tickets

Photo Credit: D’Angelo Connell Photography

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