USL Power ratings: Sept. 17, 2018

Mostly a chalk-ish week, but some interesting swings in the USL. Don’t forget to follow the site on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook for all the content on USL, US Soccer, and Nashville SC.

Table Power

This rating method counts only opposition played and points attained in a given game – it is best used as a proxy for how the table is likely to play out at the end of the year.

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USL East power rankings:

  1. Cincinnati 3.11 – 77 projected points
  2. Louisville 2.45 – 61 projected points
  3. Pittsburgh 2.39 – 59 projected points
  4. Charleston 2.36 – 59 projected points
  5. Indianapolis 2.12 – 53 projected points
  6. Nashville 2.05 – 51 projected points
  7. Bethlehem 1.93 (+1) – 48 projected points
  8. NYRB 1.89 (-1) – 47 projected points*
  9. North Carolina 1.84 (+1) – 46 projected points
  10. Ottawa 1.82 (-1) – 45 projected points
  11. Charlotte 1.68 – 42 projected points
  12. Penn 1.62 – 40 projected points
  13. Tampa Bay 1.61 – 42 projected points*
  14. Atlanta 1.18 – 29 projected points
  15. Richmond 1.03 – 26 projected points
  16. Toronto 0.64 – 16 projected points

*I’ve now baked in the non-conference results for NYRBII (draw against LA Galaxy II) and Tampa Bay (win over Real Monarchs) into the projected point totals, though they aren’t reflected in the ratings themselves.

There wasn’t a ton of shakeup here, though we were thisclose to getting Toronto back on the bottom of the chart (they led Cincy on the road in the 79th minute before giving up two goals to lose it). TFCII is a legitimate team at this point in the season – frustrating for those who have to play them in the stretch run – and if they hadn’t started so bad, they’d easily be ahead of Richmond, and probably ahead of ATL UTD 2, as well.

In more impactful games – you know, the ones that were going to be able to budge either team out of their current position on the table – Red Bulls drew TFCII in the midweek (like I said: not a bad team anymore), which incremented the Baby Bulls slightly down. Combined with an idle Bethlehem Steel and a win for North Carolina over Penn (and the expected win for Ottawa over Richmond), and there’s a real dogfight for the final two playoff positions between four teams.

You can see some pretty distinct tier, with Louisville, Pittsburgh, and Charleston relatively safe in the three first-round host spots, Nashville and Indy pretty safely in the playoffs barring a tanking the rest of the way, and the quartet I just mentioned probably the only others with a serious shot at the postseason. Maybe Tampa makes a run (don’t start Tuesday pls) with new signings, but they have a ways to go.

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USL West power rankings

  1. Phoenix Rising 2.63 (+1) – 65 projected points
  2. Orange County 2.62 (+1) – 64 projected points
  3. Real Monarchs 2.62 (-2) – 62 projected points*
  4. Sacramento Republic 2.40 – 59 projected points
  5. Portland Timbers 2.24 (+1) – 55 projected points
  6. Reno 1868 2.21 (+2) – 54 projected points
  7. Swope Park 2.15 (-2) – 53 projected points
  8. St. Louis 2.09 (+1) – 51 projected points
  9. San Antonio 2.09 (-2) – 51 projected points
  10. OKC Energy 1.68 (+2) – 41 projected points
  11. Fresno FC 1.65 (-1) – 41 projected points
  12. Colorado Springs 1.59 (+1) – 39 projected points
  13. LA Galaxy II 1.54 (-2) – 38 projected points*
  14. Rio Grande Valley 1.39 – 34 projected points
  15. Las Vegas Lights 1.31 – 32 projected points
  16. Seattle Sounders 1.04 – 26 projected points
  17. Tulsa Roughnecks 1.01 – 25 projected points

*As above, Real Monarchs’ projected points and LAGII’s include their non-conference results. That means the point totals won’t quite follow with the ratings themselves. 

The long-awaited “Real Monarchs no longer at the top” has come to fruition, and in the projected points, a loss that’s not accounted for in the calculations docks them another two points (without even getting into that it might be slightly more if the formulas knew it came to a Very Bad Eastern team). Phoenix and OC are barely differentiable, and a non-scientific perusal of their remaining schedules makes me think Rising’s additional point in this projection is likely to come true, if not be slightly conservative.

Reno climbed significantly mostly because Swope and San Antonio suffered losses, not because a win over LAGII is anything to write home about.

Swope’s loss wasn’t bad in the lens of what it tells us about a team’s overall quality, but certainly in “this is a team I’m competing with to get playoff position.” If the Rangers had been able to knock of STLFC, it would have nearly cemented them in the postseason (though they’re close anyway). San Antonio’s catastrophic loss to Tulsa is a much bigger deal: they’re the ninth team out of eight now, which is must be noted is not the spot you want to be in. A blitz to the end is not the time to lose to the worst team.

There’s still plenty of season left – though less so in the West, the conference is also prone to much crazier week-to-week swings – so other than “three-horse race at the top,” “Sacramento in fourth,” and “five teams for four spots,” the final playoff picture still looks up in the air. There are plenty of permutations possible within those categories.

Pure Power

This rating method uses almost an opposite philosophy: focusing only on goals scored for/against in each game, without attention to individual results. It looks at the quality of offensive and defensive performance against each given opponent, with a home/road component attached. It’s more effective for predictive purposes in single games, rather than necessarily projecting the end-of-year table.

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Oooooh pretty colors. I shaded the components to make some trends (or data points that buck trends) a little easier to see. Louisville is bad at home, to a degree that’s unique among the top 11 teams – and certainly for one as good as they are away. Real Monarchs and Nashville SC are the only teams in the top 14 that are worse than average on the road (though neither by a huge amount). Nashville SC’s offense is by far the worst among the top 19 in USL – it say somethin’ about somethin’ that their defense is still good enough to place them in the top seven teams overall. As for week-to-week changes, you can now see those in the column with the purple (bad) and yellow (good) highlights.

A road draw for LCFC bumps them past the team they tied – and that was the first time Pittsburgh has given up two home goals all year. Indy takes a pretty large fall after losing to Penn FC (which moves up thanks to that game, despite a loss to North Carolina FC last night).

Fresno also moves down following its home loss to Orange County. Hardly shame in that 1-0 result, of course, but combined with the out-of-town scoreboard, it was enough to shake them up a bit. St. Louis moves up with the win over Swope.

Some less significant/impactful moves lower in the table outside of TORONTO FC II NO LONGER SECOND-WORST. Their 4-3 loss at Cincinnati was painfully close to earning a result (even a win, with a 79th-minute lead), but they were still solid enough in defeat to bump past Sounders 2. That makes Richmond about as close to second-bottom Seattle as Seattle is to No. 28 Atlanta. They bad (far worse than Toronto ever was this year, even when TFCII was far and away alone on points).


I made pictures out of the discussion I’ve been having here in the past couple weeks:

You have current position on the far left, then the other columns are pretty self-explanatory. Nobody in the West is guaranteed playoff position yet, while nobody in the East outside of Cincinnati is guaranteed anything other than not finishing bottom three.

What it means for Nashville SC

The action around the USL was ultimately a mixed bag. Some teams in the playoff race dropped points, others who were potentially on the fringe earned crucial points, and the Boys in Gold sat at home preparing for Tuesday’s mid-week game.

That one should tell the whole story of how the remainder of the season should play out: if NSC gets all three points against Tampa, they’re in a battle for fourth or fifth position (though still most likely to finish sixth), and if they don’t, suddenly the scrap to remain in playoff position becomes real.

Everybody ahead of them in the table has 1-3 games in-hand conceded to Nashville, but the team also has to take advantage of those opportunities to gain points. Based on form over the season, they’ll be able to. The pessimistic fan certainly has reason to at least worry they won’t, though.

2 thoughts on “USL Power ratings: Sept. 17, 2018

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