Update: Where last year’s key USL players will be in 2019

This is an update to a previous post, with the signings since late January fully updated. By this point there are 17 different players who earned at least one USL Team of the Week honor in 2018 that have not signed anywhere (or retired). I’ll operate on the assumption that none will be in the Championship this year.

Team of the Year

To begin, let us take a look at last year’s All-league first and second teams, with their 2019 clubs included.

USL1stTeam-2019clubsUSL2ndTeam2019clubs

Four of last year’s all-league players are with MLS – three moving up along with the FC Cincinnati team they were on last year, and Ottawa Fury goalkeeper Maxime Crepeau returning to Montreal Impact after a season-long loan. Hadji Barry and Kyle Bekker will play for clubs in Israel and the Canadian Premier League, respectively.

Among the players staying in the USL Championship, four will play for Nashville SC (three of them signed from other clubs), two each for Charleston, Indy, Pittsburgh, and Sacramento (with Indy’s Thomas Enevoldsen the only signed from a different club), and one each for Louisville, Orange County, Phoenix, and Seattle.

Team of the Week

(See the previous post for the internal validity – though I’ll contend that the causal relationship could just as easily be in either direction – that TOTW selections are correlated with position in the table).

I’m going to do this slightly different than last time, in addition to updating the data: if an MLS reserve team (or a technically independent team over whom an MLS team has control of technical decisions) “lost” a player to their affiliate, I’ll assume that player or a comparably talented one will be sent down to replace them this year, so I won’t note players with the parent club as “players out.”

Eastern Conference
Team 2018 Picks Out In Net 2019 Total
Nashville SC 9 2 16 +14 23
Indy Eleven 12 5 6 +1 13
Pittsburgh Riverhounds 15 4 1 -3 12
Louisville City FC 18 9 2 -7 11
Tampa Bay Rowdies 11 7 7 0 11
Ottawa Fury FC 10 4 3 -1 9
Saint Louis FC 10 3 1 -2 8
New York Red Bulls II 10 4 0 -4 6
Charleston Battery 11 6 0 -6 5
Atlanta United 2 5 1 0 -1 4
Charlotte Independence 9 8 3 -5 4
North Carolina FC 12 8 0 -8 4
Bethlehem Steel 12 9 0 -9 3
Birmingham Legion FC 3 +3 3
Swope Park Rangers 13 10 0 -10 3
Hartford Athletic 2 +2 2
Memphis 901 FC 1 +1 1
Loudoun United 0 0 0
FC Cincinnati 18 – (MLS)
Penn FC 6 – (hiatus)
Richmond Kickers 3 – (League One)
Toronto FC II 4 – (League One)
Western Conference
Team 2018 Picks Out In Net Net
Sacramento Republic FC 14 5 7 +2 16
Phoenix Rising FC 15 5 5 0 15
Orange County SC 14 4 1 -3 11
Portland Timbers 2 12 3 2 -1 11
Reno 1868 FC 13 4 2 -2 11
Real Monarchs SLC 15 6 1 -5 10
Fresno FC 10 1 0 -1 9
LA Galaxy II 11 3 1 -2 9
New Mexico United FC 7 +7 7
OKC Energy FC 5 3 4 +1 6
San Antonio FC 15 11 2 -9 6
Austin Bold FC 3 +3 3
Colorado Springs Switchbacks 9 6 0 -6 3
Rio Grande Valley FC 5 2 0 -2 3
Seattle Sounders FC 2 4 2 0 -2 2
Tulsa Roughnecks FC 4 4 2 -2 2
Las Vegas Lights FC 7 6 0 -6 1
El Paso Locomotive FC 0 0 0

So let’s apply last year’s lines of best fit, keeping in mind a couple areas in which we’re going to be a little questionable statistically:

  • Obviously there are going to be players from last season who aren’t around to make team of the week lists (90 TOTW selections are playing in other leagues, retired, or remain unsigned), and players who made zero teams of the week last year will make plenty in 2019. Something tells me guys coming down from MLS teams, for example, will have their say here.
  • I don’t currently have the time and effort to calculate whether Team of the Week selections from one year correlate with those selections the following year (given my suspicions about “pick a player from a team who won,” it might not be that high).
  • With a different number of teams, the points won’t line up to last year’s totals. The line of best fit probably also changes year-over-year.
  • Especially with MLS2 teams, the assumption that a player of similar caliber will be sent down – if not literally the same guy – is likely not a safe one. Efrain Alvarez, who made four teams of the week last year, won’t be sent down from the Galaxy much, and they won’t be sending a player of his caliber down again.
  • While I’m correlating the two here, there’s not necessarily a tight link between good players and team of the week selections: Denso Ulysee made team of the year with zero team of the week honors. And something tells me Matt Pickens and Maxime Crepeau were a little bit better than essentially being replacement-level players.

So with that said…

East West
Proj. Points Team Proj. Points Team
92.2826087 NSH 69.0513834 SAC
56.05072464 IND 65.09881423 PHX
52.42753623 PIT 49.28853755 OC
48.80434783 LOU 49.28853755 POR
48.80434783 TBR 49.28853755 RNO
41.55797101 OTT 45.33596838 RSL
37.93478261 STL 41.38339921 FRS
30.6884058 NY 41.38339921 LA
27.06521739 CHS 33.47826087 NM
23.44202899 ATL 29.5256917 OKC
23.44202899 CLT 29.5256917 SA
23.44202899 NC 17.66798419 AUS
19.81884058 BST 17.66798419 COL
19.81884058 BHM 17.66798419 RGV
19.81884058 SPR 13.71541502 SEA
16.19565217 HFD 13.71541502 TUL
12.57246377 MEM 9.76284585 LVL
8.949275362 LDN 5.81027668 ELP

Those are rough, rough estimates (something tells me Nashville collecting all but 10 points on the year ain’t happening), but a starting point for recognizing who should be strong on the basis of returning talent.

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