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 expand the variety of rankings available.
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.
USL East power rankings:
- Saint Louis – 87.03 projected points
- Nashville – 66.87 points
- Tampa Bay (+3) – 60.79 points
- North Carolina (+3) – 59.11 points
- Indy (+6) – 56.03 points
- Ottawa (-3) – 52.66 points
- Charleston (+3) – 51.55 points
- Louisville City (+5) – 48.47 points
- Birmingham (-5) – 46.81 points
- Pittsburgh (-1) – 46.47 points
- Atlanta 2 (+1) – 44.18 points
- Loudoun (+3) – 39.12 points
- Bethlehem (-5) – 38.58 points
- NYRB2 (-9) – 38.56 points
- Memphis (-1) – 28.36 points
- Charlotte (+1) – 25.17 points
- Swope Park (-1) – 16.05 points
- Hartford – 0.00 points
One semi-surprising result didn’t swing things that much, with Nashville losing major ground in projected points, but still holding onto the No. 2 spot thanks to its new projected total being better than everyone below them had last week (except Ottawa, which helped the Boys in Gold out by losing to Louisville City).
The other result was more surprising and had a more significant impact on the standings (and those two items are related, of course). New York Red Bulls II lost to Loudoun United, giving the Baby Bulls their first loss and DC’s USL affiliate its first win. That helped Loudoun climb incrementally, but saw NYRB II drop like a rock. In hindsight, this was coming the first time that team lost: they have run up a very impressive record, but done so against by far the weakest schedule in the East. If not for Loudoun moving past Bethlehem with Saturday’s win, their opponents would include the worst five teams in the conference, plus Nashville SC. The cure to NYRBII’s early-season inconsistency from years past has been “play the easiest early-season schedule possible.” Given that they tend to come on strong over the course of the season, they may be able to put together a really strong point total eventually.
The imbalance of the schedules (which is sort of the point of this exercise on the grand scale) the low number of games played – several squads only have five in the books – means things will jump around a bit still. Things are starting to get a bit more robust data-wise, but there’s still a wider range in the East, with fewer overall games played, plus a wider range of games played per team.
The other big changes this week were climbs by Indy Eleven and Louisville City. Both of them took care of lesser opposition and are looking closer to preseason expectations than the early-season results had indicated. With Indy and NYRBII facing off this weekend in Montclair, it could be an early indication of who’s for real between what had looked like an overachiever and another who had looked like an underachiever through the first tiny sample of games.
USL West power rankings
- Portland Timbers 2 (+1) – 78.28 projected points
- Fresno FC (+8) – 68.70 points
- New Mexico (+3) – 65.60 points
- Sacramento Republic (-1) – 58.91 points
- Real Monarchs (-1) – 56.58 points
- Reno 1868 (+5) – 55.29 points
- Tulsa Roughnecks (-2) – 52.86 points
- LA Galaxy II (-7) – 49.90 points
- Orange County – 43.67 points
- Austin Bold (+5) – 41.08 points
- Phoenix Rising (+2) – 40.67 points
- OKC Energy (-5) – 39.10 points
- Colorado Springs (-5) – 37.84 points
- Las Vegas Lights (+2) – 37.32 points
- San Antonio (+2) – 34.21 points
- El Paso (-4) – 30.00 points
- Tacoma Defiance (-3) – 27.37 points
- Rio Grande Valley – 26.18 points
More position changes (and dramatic ones) in the West, but that’s because the teams are more closely bunched, rather than major net difference in the projected point numbers. Whereas there’s a range from 87.03 in the East, it’s merely 52.10 in the West. That is largely for some of the reasons mentioned in the penultimate paragraph of the East section, and also because there isn’t a team that appears to be historically bad dragging the bottom end down.
Still, major changes for LA Galaxy II in a downward direction (which regular readers will recognize that I see as a correction to early-season quirks) and and upwards for Fresno FC (probably an overcorrection, especially given they were idle this weekend – still, a 25-point change is big, but not huge given the context).
Tacoma continues to adjust back downward after their MLS-fueled upset over Sacramento Republic, while the Republic’s numbers are mostly stabilizing where they are. After Timbers are alone at the top, the range from Fresno to Galaxy appears to be close enough to consider them a mostly-even cohort, and it’s anyone’s game from Orange County on down within a separate group, too. Of course, I’d expect OCSC and Phoenix to climb into that second tier while the likes of Tulsa and LA drop down, if preseason expectations hold.
The chart shows only the most recent five weeks, and given that there are now six total weeks worth of rankings for the West (only five for the East), the first week of the ratings has been chopped off the left side. That’ll be a rolling change in subsequent editions going forward.