The Premier Development League (PDL) playoffs are upon us as FC Tucson travels to Las Vegas for a first round play in match against the Los Angeles Misioneros. But what are the PDL playoffs? Take a look at our rundown of the playoff structure and which teams have already qualified.
PDL Playoff Overview
Before we talk about the teams, let's first give you a general layout of the league. This year, the PDL consisted of 70 teams across the country broken up into 10 divisions and four conferences (Eastern, Central, Southern and Western). FC Tucson plays in the newly formed Mountain Division within the Western Conference. Two of the conferences have three divisions (Eastern and Western) while the other two conferences (Central and Southern) have just two divisions. This matters because it determines how teams in each conference make the playoffs.
The ultimate goal of all 64 clubs in PDL is to reach their conference finals. The conference finals consists of four teams and two rounds (semifinals and finals). The four conference finals winners are then re-seeded with the No. 1 seed playing the No. 4 seed and the No. 2 seed playing the No. 3 seed in the national semifinals. The winners play in the PDL championship and the winner is crowned the PDL champion. Now that we have the general layout, let's look at each conference and who will be in the playoffs as of today.
Central Conference Finals
Who makes the conference finals: First and Second Place from the Heartland and Great Lakes Division will qualify for the Central Conference Championship.
Who's in from the Great Lakes: Michigan Bucks and K-W United FC have clinched spots. Both clubs have 27 points, but if the Bucks win or draw in their final match, they clinch the division title.
Who's in from the Heartland: Des Moines Menace and St. Louis Lions have clinched spots, with Des Moines being the division champion.
Southern Conference Finals
Who makes the conference finals: First and Second Place from the Mid-South and Southeastern Division will qualify for the Southern Conference Championship
Who's in from the Mid-South: Austin Aztex are in after clinching the division title.
Who could still qualify: Midland/Odessa Sockers FC (24 points) are currently second. The Laredo Heat (21 points) could move into a second-place tie and reach the conference finals through tiebreakers. The Heat have one more match.
Who's in from the Southeastern: Ocala Stampede and SW Florida Adrenaline have clinched spots, with Ocala being the division champion.
Eastern Conference Finals
Who makes the conference finals: First place of Northeast, Mid-Atlantic, and South Atlantic advance into the Conference Championship. Second place from Northeast and Mid-Atlantic will have a play-in game to determine the fourth spot in the Eastern Conference Championship.
Who's in from the Mid-Atlantic: Jersey Express have clinched a spot with one match remaining.
Who could still qualify from the Mid-Atlantic: The second-place spot is up for grabs between Reading United AC (28 points) and the Long Island Rough Riders.(27 points). Both teams have one match remaining.
Who's in from the Northeast: Seacoast United Phantoms (32 points) and CFC Azul (29 points) will both play in the postseason but the division title, and an automatic spot in the conference finals, is up for grabs. Whoever doesn't win the division will play in the second-place play in match.
Who's in from the South Atlantic: No one has officially booked a spot in the conference finals. This is the widest open race in the country.
Who could still qualify: West Virginia Chaos (24 points), Cincinnati Dutch Lions (21 points) and Southern West Virginia King's Warriors (21 points) could all potentially win the division.
Western Conference Finals
Who makes the conference finals: First place of the Northwest will qualify for the Conference Championship as well as the play-in winner between the NW second place vs. third place game. First place of the Mountain Division will play the second place of the Southwest division, first place of the Southwest will play the second place of the Mountain division-2 winners advance to the Conference Championship (these two games will be a neutral site in Las Vegas).
Who's in from the Northwest: Kitsap Pumas won the division and got a spot in the conference finals. Vancouver Whitecaps U-23s won their play in match and will be the No. 2 team from the Northwest.
Who's in from the Southwest: Ventura County and La Misioneros FC clinched spots, with Ventura County winning the division.
Who's in from the Mountain: FC Tucson and BYU clinched spots, with FC Tucson winning the division.
Vegas play in matches: Ventura County plays BYU while FC Tucson plays LA Misioneros this Saturday. The highest-seeded winner will play Vancouver while the lower seeded winner will play Kitsap.