The Rhinos haven't always made it easy for themselves this season, but the team is on the verge of making the 2014 USL Pro playoffs.
Here are the standings for the teams still in contention for the final three playoff spots. The top 8 teams qualify for playoffs and Orlando City SC, Sacramento Republic FC, Richmond Kickers, LA Galaxy II, and Charleston Battery have all clinched berths in the postseason by now.
5) Charleston Battery, 38 points, 1 game remaining, 10 wins
6) Wilmington Hammerheads, 35 points, 2 games remaining, 8 wins
7) Rochester Rhinos, 35 points, 1 game remaining, 9 wins
8) Harrisburg City Islanders, 34 points, 2 games remaining, 9 wins
9) Pittsburgh Riverhounds, 32 points, 1 game remaining, 9 wins
10) Charlotte Eagles, 31 points, 1 game remaining, 9 wins
Charleston has shored up its passage to the postseason but can finish in fifth, sixth, seventh, or eighth place. If the Battery lose, the other three teams currently in playoff spots win, and Rochester makes up +3 in goal differential then Charleston could end the year in eighth place.
Wilmington travels to Dayton on Friday night before facing the Rhinos on Sunday afternoon. Dayton has not won a game at home all season but the leeuwen (Dutch for Lions) might perform in a pride game. Wilmington secure playoffs with at least a draw from its two remaining games. If the Hammerheads lose both, however, they could get bumped out at the last moment by Rochester if Harrisburg and Pittsburgh both get wins.
Harrisburg has a difficult back-to-back scenario to close out the 2014 USL Pro regular season. The City Islanders play Charleston on the road Friday night before getting on a bus to play Charlotte on Saturday. With two wins Harrisburg could finish as high as fifth but needs more than a single point to ensure playoff soccer.
Pittsburgh needs to win against visiting Arizona United SC and needs one of the following to happen: Wilmington loses twice, Rochester loses, Harrisburg only earns one point. I wouldn't be surprised if the Riverhounds complete their end of the deal as this team only routinely pulls out odd wins.
Charlotte is in the most precarious position. The Eagles need to win over Harrisburg and both of the following to occur: Pittsburgh loses/ties Arizona and Harrisburg also loses/ties against Charleston.
And the Rhinos?
Rochester qualifies for the 2014 USL Pro playoffs with at least a tie against Wilmington. A win could move Rochester up to fifth place if Charleston loses (making up +3 goal differential), Wilmington loses/ties Dayton, and Harrisburg only wins one of its two matches.
Rochester could slip out of the playoff hunt if they lose to Wilmington, Harrisburg wins one of its matches, and Pittsburgh beats Arizona (because Arizona would hold the first tiebreaker, league wins).
The Rhinos play Wilmington on Sunday after the Hammerheads play in Dayton on Friday in what will actually be Wilmington's fourth league game in 8 days. Logic may hold that Rochester has an advantage over teams playing with little rest, that's not exactly rung true over the season. Rochester is 1-3-1 when hosting teams who played either the night before or two days before
Charleston Battery played in Pittsburgh on April 26 before playing in Rochester on the 27th; the Rhinos won 1-0
Orlando played in Pittsburgh on May 9 before playing in Rochester on the 10th; the game ended 1-1
Charlotte played in Pittsburgh on June 27 before playing in Rochester on the 28th; the Rhinos lost 1-0
Wilmington played in Harrisburg on July 18 before playing in Rochester on the 19th; the Rhinos lost 1-0
Orange County played in Pittsburgh on August 8 before playing in Rochester on the 10th; the Rhinos lost 1-0
Can the Rhinos reverse that trend and qualify for the 2014 USL Pro playoffs with a result at home against a tired Wilmington Hammerheads FC side? Tune in on Sunday to see, kickoff from Sahlen's Stadium is at 4:05PM and you watch the game here.