USL Power ratings: Oct. 8, 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. Obviously as we approach the end of the year, it’s going to 1) look a lot like the current table, and 2) potentially spit out final point totals (five from two games, for example) that may not be technically possible.

Screen Shot 2018-10-08 at 8.00.36 AM.png

USL East power rankings:

  1. Cincinnati – 78 points
  2. Louisville – 64 points
  3. Pittsburgh – 62 points
  4. Charleston – 53 points
  5. Indianapolis – 52 points
  6. Nashville – 51 points
  7. Bethlehem – 48 points
  8. NYRB (+1) – 48 points*
  9. North Carolina (-1) – 45 points
  10. Ottawa – 45 points
  11. Charlotte (+1) – 43 points
  12. Tampa Bay (-1) – 42 points*
  13. Penn – 38 points
  14. Atlanta – 30 points
  15. Richmond – 23 points
  16. Toronto – 17 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. It basically docks Red Bulls half a projected point and gives Tampa 1.8 projected points.

Just a couple flips here with unexpected results in the East: Red Bulls’ win over North Carolina FC was obviously a six-pointer in the playoff race (and indeed moved NYRBII into a projected playoff spot over NCFC), while Tampa’s loss to Charlotte was another six-pointer, albeit one that only officially knocked the second-most expensive team in the USL out of the playoffs – the Rowdies were likely to be officially eliminated with other results, anyway – while moving Charlotte past.

Charleston’s nosedive over the past four weeks or so is noteworthy, and far more precipitous than Nashville’s version of same earlier in the year. Indeed, it gives NSC the opportunity to move into fourth place (they’re the only team with that opportunity, since Indy doesn’t have a game in-hand).

I played around with including Cincinnati on the top and the bottom three in the chart this week, since we’re getting close to the end of the year and we miss those guys. The scaling was really bad, though (everything from Charleston to Charlotte looked like a complete lump) so I decided against it. Trust that they’re mostly holding steady with a very slight drop from Cincy, a slight rise from Atlanta, and Richmond and TFCII remaining well behind the pack.

Screen Shot 2018-10-08 at 8.13.21 AM.png

USL West power rankings

  1. Orange County – 67 points
  2. Phoenix Rising – 66 points
  3. Sacramento Republic – 62 points
  4. Real Monarchs – 58 points*
  5. Reno 1868 – 56 points
  6. St. Louis (+2) – 52 points
  7. Portland Timbers (-1) – 52 points
  8. Swope Park (-1) – 52 points
  9. San Antonio – 50 points
  10. OKC Energy – 42 points
  11. Colorado Springs – 41 points
  12. Fresno FC (+1) – 39 points
  13. LA Galaxy II (-1) – 39 points*
  14. Rio Grande Valley – 38 points
  15. Las Vegas Lights – 30 points
  16. Seattle Sounders (+1) – 23 points
  17. Tulsa Roughnecks (-1) – 23 points

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

Even though the playoff situation has been much clearer here for several weeks, there was still a bit of fluidity (even with results that were mostly expected). St. Louis moved to the top of the logjam for the 6-8 spots, though all three of them, Portland, and Swope are projected on 52 points – they can’t actually all finish there, with Swope on 50 with a single game left.

San Antonio is still alive for that last spot, and they’ll be kicking themselves for a couple silly dropped points in the final few weeks if they don’t end up in the playoffs. They are currently tied on points with St. Louis and hold the wins tiebreaker, but give up a game i-hand, so even just a win and a draw from STLFC would make it impossible for San Antonio to finish ahead of them.

It’s super-tight at the top between Orange County and Phoenix, with Rising needing a win and a better result than OC’s final game out of that game in-hand to win the West, because they give up the wins tiebreaker. Their midweek game against Vegas shouldn’t be intriguing on the small-scale (Vegas is awful), but as it relates to the race for the top of the West, does carry some larger-scale implications.

Tulsa is back to being the bottom team in the West by virtue of having lost to a worse team (here meaning “the No. 5 team instead of the No. 1 team”).

Pure Power

This rating method uses 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.

Screen Shot 2018-10-08 at 8.24.11 AM.png

Nashville and Sacramento make big four-position rises… but look at 1) the gulf between those two and Pittsburgh ahead of them in the 5-spot, and 2) how tight things are all the way back to No. 10 Charleston or so. They made much smaller moves in the actual raw numbers than they did on the leaderboard, just because it’s so tight in there.

Big drops from Charleston (loss to Atlanta United 2) and Portland (2-0 home loss to Reno) helped facilitate those moves, of course. Reno only climbed a bit as a consequence, so that game was much more a “Portland worse than expected” than a “Reno better than expected.” Atlanta climbed a fair amount, so the result in Lawrenceville was a little bit of both.

Other big moves were New York going up two spots after a win over North Carolina, which sunk one position as a result. A bad road team getting a road result is always going to be a slightly bigger boost than a team having a slightly better-than-expected result (see: SC, Nashville).

Colorado Springs getting thrashed by Fresno FC resulted in an entirely understandable drop.


Tiebreakers not taken into account in this chart (Portland has already clinched at least eighth on tiebreakers, for example, but as we approach the home stretch, the table is becoming super-clear nonetheless:

Cincy and Atlanta are the only two teams in the USL who know exactly where they’ll finish in their conference. Playoff races (or at least the relevant portions thereof) are mostly broken down above.

What it means for Nashville SC

The win against Richmond was necessary but not sufficient to make the playoffs. A win against Toronto FC II Tuesday would almost certainly seal things. It would also open the door to finishing much, much higher than just eighth (indeed, fourth place would be on the table).

I’ll have a playoff breakdown for NSC in specific coming up.

2 thoughts on “USL Power ratings: Oct. 8, 2018

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