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Race for eighth in USL Eastern Conference is down to four teams

And Orlando City B is still somehow the favorite.

Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

The Pittsburgh Riverhounds have bowed out of the race for the USL Eastern Conference playoffs. The team needed to win its last three games - and get some help - to stay even mathematically capable of clinching the eighth and last open post-season berth, but it could only battle FC Cincinnati to a 0-0 draw at home on Wednesday, September 14.

There are still four teams in the hunt for eighth in the USL East, and Pittsburgh might get the chance to play spoiler, since it plays still-a-contender Bethlehem Steel on Sunday, September 18.

But first Cincinnati will have another say in the matter. Cincy hosts Orlando City B on Saturday. OCSC B is the front runner in the race for eighth, but has been making every effort to unburden itself of that position. Orlando has gained one point from its last seven games - and has lost its last four straight - which is the primary reason there is any sort of continuing uncertainty about the identity of the team that will play New York Red Bulls II in the first round of the playoffs.

If OCSC B can find a win in Cincinnati, it could (finally) clinch its place in that match against NYRB II, but it is very much second favorite in its game this weekend. Not only is Orlando on the road and in dismal form, it is also up against a Cincy side that will have ample encouragement to make its last home game of the regular season a memorable one.

While OCSC B tries to contain Cincy, Wilmington Hammerheads will play Harrisburg City Islanders. Home team HCI needs a win or it is out of the race for eighth, and it is out anyway if Orlando wins. (Baltimore-bound?) Wilmington is two points behind OCSC B, so three points are only strictly necessary if there is an upset in Cincinnati.

Pittsburgh's game against Bethlehem is only significant if Orlando doesn't win, and the Steel will then need three points to stay in the conversation.

uslsoccer.com

FC Cincinnati vs Orlando City B: Nippert Stadium; 7:00 pm, Eastern; Saturday, September 17

Harrisburg City Islanders vs Wilmington Hammerheads: Millersville University; 7:00 pm, Eastern; Saturday, September 17

Bethlehem Steel vs Pittsburgh Riverhounds: Goodman Stadium; 3:00 pm ,Eastern; Sunday, September 18

All games on USL YouTube Channel.