Welcome to the USL power ratings! Herein, I’ll give weekly updates on the Eastern and Western Conference with a projected final table. When there’s enough data, I’ll include my second set of ratings, which are predictive on a game-to-game basis (rather than a season-long aggregate).
When the first playoff eliminations or clinchings happen (which by definition cannot happen until squads have played more than half their games), I’ll begin to include playoff scenario updates.
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. At this stage of the year, it’s broken: there aren’t quite enough games played for the data to make sense. A few teams have more than the maximum number of points projected; others are projected for fewer points than they already have. We’re probably two more full weeks of games away from numbers that make sense, but I’m impatient.
USL East power rankings:
- North Carolina – 171.29 points
- Saint Louis 153.95 points
- Tampa Bay 130.27 points
- Ottawa 76.13 points
- Louisville City 71.05 points
- Nashville 67.67 points
- NYRB2 67.67 points
- Indy 63.44 points
- Charleston 50.75 points
- Memphis 47.37 points
- Bethlehem 25.38 points
- Atlanta 2 20.30 points
- Pittsburgh 16.92 points
- Charlotte 12.69 points
- Loudoun 12.69 points
- Swope Park 6.34 points
- Birmingham 0.00 points
- Hartford 0.00 points
Since we have a true double round-robin this year, the projections will actually turn out to be a little more accurate when the data is robust, so that’s nice. Chucking cross-conference games, three-play opponents, and a couple teams that got some bonus home games from last season means that everyone’s schedule will end up about average.
Anyway: North Carolina, Saint Louis, and Tampa Bay are the three teams that break the table on the high end so far. They’re a combined 6-0-2 (with both draws coming in a game that was level between STLFC and the Rowdies Saturday), and most impressively, they’ve done it against opposition that’s currently a combined 10-7-5. That means against all other competition, that slate is 10-1-3. Pretty good!
Tampa plays Loudoun this weekend, so they’ll possibly stop breaking the table as soon as the next edition in a week. Saint Louis has Charlotte, so they might drop the same (though the Independence has only two games played, so it may not drag them down enough. We’re close though). North Carolina’s game against Charleston probably means they will take another week to come back down to earth unless they lose the game.
On the low end, neither Birmingham nor Hartford is technically breaking the table yet with fewer points than they’ve already earned, but obviously at the very least somebody has to get points when they play each other twice this year, even if both manage to lose every other game (which also isn’t happening). I don’t foresee either getting a result this week, though, so it may take a minute before some sense is banged into the numbers.
USL West power rankings
- Sacramento Republic 161.19 points
- Real Monarchs 71.96 points
- Tulsa Roughnecks 70.52 points
- Portland Timbers 2 69.08 points
- Colorado Springs 69.08 points
- New Mexico 63.14 points
- Fresno FC 61.68 points
- OKC Energy 60.45 points
- Reno 1868 51.81 points
- LA Galaxy II 34.54 points
- Orange County 28.06 points
- Phoenix Rising 25.91 points
- El Paso 20.15 points
- Tacoma Defiance 18.50 points
- San Antonio 13.82 points
- Las Vegas Lights 12.09 points
- Austin Bold 6.48 points
- Rio Grande Valley 4.32 points
There’s nobody breaking the table on the low end, so that’s good. You can see that RGV’s early-season strength of schedule is worse than the teams with whom they’re tied in the actual table on one point. That’ll make it rough when the going gets even tougher, but certainly a total of fewer than five points (especially with Houston Dynamo loanees coming down the road) is unlikely.
On the high end, only Sacramento Republic has more than the maximum number of points in their projection. The Republic stands 2-0-1, with their opposition 5-2-2 (meaning those teams are 5-0-1 when not playing Sacramento), so both the strength of schedule and results are pretty elite at this point. They’ve got Tacoma this weekend, which may be enough to drag them back down toward sanity.