Memphis 901 FC vs. Hartford Athletic Preview: homestand wraps up
The push for the playoffs is heating up. Three teams in the Eastern Conference have already locked up their spots: the Pittsburgh Riverhounds, the Tampa Bay Rowdies, and the Charleston Battery. Memphis 901 FC currently sits in fifth place in the Eastern Conference with six games to play, three of which are at home. The extra games they had in hand are now gone and they’ll have to play well down the stretch if they want to earn a home playoff game (they sit one point behind Louisville City in the fourth spot but are three goals better in the goal difference column). The next step towards locking up a playoff spot and earning a home playoff game is down at AutoZone Park against the hapless Hartford Athletic.
The run-up to the playoffs for Memphis 901 FC really got started with a three game homestand. The first game of that homestand was a wild affair against the Tampa Bay Rowdies. It was a game that saw the Beale Street Boys fall behind, tie it up, fall behind again, tie it up again, and then score the winner in stoppage time. And in the middle of all of that Tampa’s coach was sent off and shown a red card. It was eerily similar to 901 FC’s dramatic win against the Birmingham Legion in 2021, and caused this writer to declare it the “turning point of the season” during a recent episode of the 901 Soccer Podcast.
The follow up to the win against Tampa was less than stellar. Just three days after pulling out that 3-2 win against the Rowdies they played host to Monterey Bay FC. It was a game where 901 FC had the bulk of the possession and more shots than any game in club history, but they were unable to find the back of the net. Which by itself would not have been terrible except for the fact that they conceded a penalty that proved to be the only goal of the game, though the time it took the referee to point to the spot caused some consternation.
Despite the loss, all is not lost for 901 FC. They are still well within the playoff places, nine points ahead of ninth place FC Tulsa. They are also still more than capable of jumping Louisville for the fourth spot and getting a coveted home playoff game. Two years ago 901 FC used a crazy home win in the month of September to turn their season around and make the playoffs. This year, they were in a much better position than that 901 FC team but can still use a wild home September win to launch themselves into the postseason. But if they are going to accomplish that feat, then this home game against Hartford is a virtual must-win.
Quite frankly, Hartford stinks. They are not having a good season. They haven’t yet been mathematically eliminated from postseason contention (only the Las Vegas Lights in the Western Conference have that dubious honor) but are in the cellar of the Eastern Conference with a mere four wins all season. Things got so bad that they had to make a managerial change back in Junem when they fired former USMNT international Tab Ramos. Their run of form coming into this game has been absolutely miserable. They have lost five straight games, and have won only once in their last seven games. Their most recent outing last Saturday against the Rio Grande Valley Toros was suspended due to severe weather in the area.
Date: Saturday, September 16, 2023
Venue: AutoZone Park
City: Memphis, Tennessee
Time: 7pm CT
TV: WMC 5.2, ESPN+
Tickets: Single Match Tickets
Memphis 901 FC leads 5-0-1
Date: Saturday, May 6, 2023
Venue: Trinity Health Stadium
City: Hartford, Connecticut
Result: Memphis 901 FC 2-0 Hartford Athletic
Memphis 901 FC: 5th in East (42pts)
Hartford Athletic: 12th in East (16pts)
Date: Wednesday, September 20, 2023
Competition: USL Regular Season
Match-Up: Memphis 901 FC @ Birmingham Legion
Venue: Protective Stadium
City: Birmingham, Alabama
Time: 7pm CT
TV: WMC 5.2, ESPN+
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