USL power ratings: June 11, 2018

It was a tamer week than we’ve recently seen, with the top three in each conference remaining static. There’s plenty of other shakeup across the USL. Don’t forget to follow the site on Twitter and Facebook for all the content on USL, US Soccer, and Nashville SC.

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USL East Power Rankings:

  1. Louisville City 3.09
  2. Cincinnati 3.04
  3. Nashville 2.71
  4. Indianapolis 2.37 (+1)
  5. Charleston 2.17 (-1)
  6. Bethlehem 2.14
  7. Pittsburgh 2.07 (+1)
  8. Charlotte 1.94 (-1)
  9. NYRB2 1.92
  10. Ottawa 1.64
  11. Richmond 1.59 (+2)
  12. Tampa Bay 1.58 (-1)
  13. Penn 1.37 (-1)
  14. North Carolina 1.26
  15. Atlanta 2 1.09
  16. Toronto 0.19

It remains mostly status quo in the East: you have the top three teams in a tier of their own (with Louisville and Cincinnati effectively tied at the top, and Nashville just unable to close that gap), then a bit of a muddled next group that makes up the likely/potential playoff teams.

At this point, that second tier looks to be about down to the eighth team – though New York Red Bulls earning a big win over Charlotte puts them in a challenge to join that tier – and it’s been somewhere around there (between six and nine) since we’ve had enough data to trust what the numbers say. I think we can trust Indy, Charleston, and Pittsburgh enough to assume they’ll remain in that group. The others have trendlines volatile enough that they can drop out or continue rising with what feels like equal likelihood.

Of course, there can still be surprising results (or results outside of what current form would lead you to believe). We saw Charlotte smash Cincinnati a couple weeks ago, for example, and I’d consider Richmond’s win over Charleston this weekend as another example of that.

One thing is for certain: Toronto II is easily the worst team in the USL (though they showed signs of life against Penn FC under a new head coach – maybe they’ll make a late-season run).

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USL West Power Rankings:

  1. Real Monarchs 3.82
  2. Sacramento Republic 2.63
  3. Phoenix Rising 2.46
  4. Portland Timbers 2 2.39
  5. Swope Park 2.34 (+1)
  6. Orange County 2.31 (-1)
  7. San Antonio 1.89
  8. Reno 1868 1.79
  9. St. Louis 1.77 (+1)
  10. Las Vegas Lights 1.74 (-1)
  11. Colorado Springs 1.50
  12. Fresno FC 1.44
  13. Seattle Sounders 2 1.32 (+2)
  14. LA Galaxy II 1.25 (-1)
  15. Rio Grande Valley 1.17 (-1)
  16. Tulsa Roughnecks 0.74
  17. OKC Energy 0.69

Raise your hand if you’re cheering for Real Monarchs to lose and both Tulsa and OKC to win a game so that the graph can be scaled much more compactly. Just me? OK. Real is way ahead of the pack, and the two Oklahoma teams are way behind it (though remember, LAGII was in their cohort just a couple weeks ago). There are some nice distinct tiers among the other 14 teams, though.

The top six teams down to Orange County remain – in whatever order they’re in, though there’s just one flip between OC and Swope Park this week – well ahead of the rest of the pack. Barring major collapses from one or more of them (or a great run of form from a team below), these are pretty safe playoff teams. That they’re currently the top six teams in the table is no coincidence.

That makes the battle for spots seven and eight pretty interesting. There’s a four-team group next, with San Antonio and Vegas both dropping off after being much better early in the year, and Reno and St. Louis mostly remaining steady in the same range they’ve been all year. Whether SAFC and LVL are going to bounce back or if there’s a consistent downward trend that continues is going to spell the story of the playoff race in the West.

What it means for Nashville

NSC has earned its position on the table despite playing two thirds of its games on the road, and against the toughest slate of any team in the East. That makes a run of four home games, two of them against pretty bad teams, a welcome reprieve.

Of course, the other two games are against sides that join NSC in the top four in the table… and of course they play No. 1 in a non-league game in between all of it. This is a portion of the schedule that should see Nashville earn a solid six points (against North Carolina FC and Atlanta United 2), and however many they pick up against Indy and Cincinnati should help to start shape the top of the East table behind Louisville City.

Methodology note: No home/away or goals for/against numbers are included in the rankings. It’s strictly points per game multiplied by a strength of schedule component (opponents’ points per game, excluding games against the team of interest).

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