With just seven league games remaining on the schedule, the ninth-place Minnesota Thunder find themselves currently out of the USL Division 1 playoff picture. Seventh-place Vancouver has 31 points. Eighth-place Miami has 25 points. Only the top seven teams qualify for the playoffs.
While being 11 points out seems like an improbable task, the opportunity is still there. It begins on Thursday when the Thunder (4-11-8) play host to the Cleveland City Stars (3-15-7). Three points are an absolute must in this matchup.
Minnesota will then travel to Puerto Rico to face the fourth-place Islanders (11-5-8) on Saturday. A tough match, but Puerto Rico has had an equally rough two weeks.
The Islanders qualified to compete in the CONCACAF Champions League. Their schedule the past two weeks has been brutal. It began with a USL game on August 15, when they defeated Montreal 1-0.
The Islanders then traveled to face MLS First-Place Columbus Crew on August 18 in Champions League action. That game ended in a 2-0 loss.
Another road trip followed on August 25 to face Saprissa, who currently sit on top of the Costa Rican Premier League table and are the defending league champions. A 3-1 loss sent the Islanders packing for Bayamon looking for a break. Four days later, the Thunder will be coming.
Is six points out of reach this week? No, but it will a tough road. A road that could lead Minnesota into the playoff picture.