Playoff spot on line as Crunch host Mustangs in Cleveland; fans respond by selling-out Saturday game

The Cleveland Crunch hope to cement their spot in the Major Arena Soccer League 2 playoffs Saturday night, and the Colorado Inferno hope to jump start their chances for post-season play as the teams host the Chicago Mustangs and Amarillo Bombers respectively.

The game in Cleveland – which sold out more than a week in advance of kickoff in North Olmsted – is the final contest in the Great Lakes Invitational series of games. With a win, Cleveland will be guaranteed a spot at the M2 championship weekend in Wichita July 17 and 18.

The winners of the league’s three series of “invitational” games earn a spot in the semi-finals. By virtue of winning the Heartland Invitational earlier this season, the Wings are already in, as are the Bombers who took the title in the Rocky Mountain Invitational in March.

Should Chicago prevail, both Cleveland and the Mustangs would have 2-1 records in GLI games and tiebreakers would then be used, starting with head-to-head result, goal differential in GLI games, total GLI goals scored, and then total GLI goals allowed.

The fourth and final playoff spot will go to the team with the highest winning percentage among the remaining league teams that did not win one of the three invitationals this season. Winning percentage is being used because not all M2 teams will be able to play the same number of games in the 2021 season.

“While we understand the formula to crown a champion this season is a little unorthodox because of the Covid-19 concerns, we’re still going to have four fantastic teams in Wichita, all with a chance to  bring home a championship in July,” Commissioner Chris Economides said. “The excitement level is even higher than we anticipated as evidenced by the Crunch selling out Saturday’s game just hours after tickets went on sale last week.”

The Inferno will host Amarillo, and need  to go on a winning streak to make a run for the playoffs, which are still very much in reach, with the team adding several new potential star players in the last few weeks. 

The two teams squared off earlier this year in Wichita as part of the Heartland Invitational, with the Inferno taking a 6-4 win, behind a two-goal effort from Daniel Jimenez and a three-point night from Felix Elias.

Both games will be streamed live on each team’s respective Facebook pages. Visit the Crunch or Inferno social media platforms for more information. Kickoff is 7 p.m. for both on Saturday, with Colorado’s kickoff being Mountain Daylight Time.