Only two matches remain in the Buffalo & District Soccer League regular season, and four of the six playoff berths have been clinched and one team has been relegated.
In other words, there's still much to achieve over the next two weeks. First, a look at the premier division standings before Week 10:
Let's get to the primer:
*BN Soccer Match of the Week:
BSC Raiders (5-1-3) at SoHo FC (7-1-1)
2 p.m. Sunday at Nichols
Preview: This heavyweight contest isn't Match of the Week because of its playoff implications; both teams have clinched and are jockeying for seeding. It is a chance, though, for SoHo to claim their regular-season superiority -- a win over Raiders, combined with a Sharpshooters loss or draw against Rogue FC, seals SoHo's place at the top of the table. Not bad for a team we picked third before the campaign.
The red card and ensuing suspension to SoHo's Peter Duerden will force a bit of a shakeup in the back line, but they should compensate rather easily. The Burgers have an ax to grind, as Raiders bounced SoHo from Tehel Cup play.
For three straight weeks, Raiders have drawn a team below them in the table, a trend that cannot be comforting for a proud side. The playoffs do lie ahead for BSC, though, and a win Sunday over the league-leaders could remind the rest of premier that Raiders have won back-to-back titles.
Rocky Palmeiro's squad has missed a few key players in the last two draws: Chris Walter and Kendell McFayden weren't available for the draw against Yemen Elite, while Walter and Midseason Best XI selection Casey Derkacz weren't present for the Queenston tie.
Prediction: 3-2, SoHo. Raiders would then have to play a quarterfinal game.
FC Yemen (2-5-2) at BSC International (0-7-2)
4 p.m. Sunday at Nichols
Preview: Sunday's contest is a must-win for Taha Omar's side, which remains in the race to avoid relegation with BUSS and Roos FC, whose match has been postponed. While three points against BSC Inter wouldn't actually secure their safety, a loss would be incredibly detrimental considering the bright form of Roos and BUSS.
Sunday marks Inter's best chance on the campaign for a win, as FC Yemen haven't won a non-forfeit since the season opener, and Inter are showing signs of life offensively through Devonte Black and Lorne Maxime. A superb showing in net from Brian Arcara, who's been far better than the stats suggest, could go a long way toward Inter's first victory.
Prediction: 2-1, FC Yemen. FCY are just too quick and pesky on turf.
Yemen Elite (3-2-4) at Clarence Yotes (6-2-1)
6 p.m. Sunday at Clarence Town Park
Preview: It's an odd scenario, but it's not the first time this year that two teams have squared off in Tehel Cup during the week and then met again that Sunday. In the second overtime on Thursday, Clarence's A.C. LaFlore nodded a header past YE's Scott Augustine, giving the Yotes a huge quarterfinal victory.
The match did indicate, though, that these two teams are pretty even in ability, and Elite were without their captain, Mateo Escobar, in the cup game. We've seen enough in the past that Escobar's presence is enough to turn the tide of a game, and three points for Elite on Sunday would clinch an unexpected playoff spot, should Queenston FC and Rogue FC both suffer defeat.
Prediction: 1-1 draw. It's a dogfight.
Amherst Sharpshooters (6-1-2) at Rogue FC (3-5-1)
6 p.m. Sunday at Orchard Park Soccer Complex
Preview: A quarterfinal bye would be massive for Sharpshooters, which could use a week off to nurse injuries to Drew Braun and Brandon Loncar. Conceding three goals to BUSS last week raised concerns about Amherst's back four, which hasn't been as dominant without Braun and LaFlore around.
Alex Stephan, who also plays in the Rochester & District Soccer League, should make his Rogue FC debut on Sunday, adding firepower to Taylor Baach's midfield. Will he be more of a thorn in Sharpshooters' side than Canisius College's Francesco Strangio, who hasn't tapped the score sheet despite ample opportunity? It's going to be an uphill climb for Rogue, especially physically, in this one.
Prediction: 4-2, Sharpshooters. Trevor Lawler pops three past Rogue, levels the team scoring lead with Regan Steele.
Celtic United (4-4-1) at Queenston FC (3-4-2)
6 p.m. Sunday at Veterans Park (Grand Island)
Preview: In terms of playoff impact, this match is surely the best of the week. Just when it seemed that Queenston were doomed to another playoff-less season in premier, the Parliament snagged an unexpected point from BSC Raiders under the lights and now at least give themselves a chance against Celtic United, a team that eliminated them handily from Tehel Cup, 4-1.
Assuming Celtic United field enough of a squad to keep pace at the spacious Grand Island pitch, they should be the favorites in this one. Should United win and Rogue either lose or draw against Sharpshooters, then the top Celtic team will clinch a playoff berth. But it's never a safe assumption that they'll field enough of a squad.
Prediction: 2-1 Queenston. United shows up with 12 players and George Todino snatches the winner late, creating a mess of the final two playoff spots before next weekend.
BUSS vs. Roos FC has been postponed due to players competing in the Fowler Cup at SUNY Brockport.
Email Ben Tsujimoto, who kept this one under 1,000 words thanks to BUSS and Roos, at firstname.lastname@example.org