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 combines points per game with the quality of opposition played. It’s best used as a proxy for how the table will play out at the end of the year. It’s still a little jittery, but getting close to what you’d expect going forward (if teams achieve expected results – which we all know doesn’t happen consistently).
USL East power rankings:
- Saint Louis – 77.95 projected points
- Nashville – 64.01 points
- Ottawa (+3) – 62.58 points
- Indy (+1) – 55.95 points
- Birmingham (+4) – 55.50 points
- Tampa Bay (-3) – 55.32 points
- Charleston – 55.11 points
- North Carolina (-4) – 51.71 points
- Louisville City (-1) – 49.43 points
- NYRB2 (+4) – 48.58 points
- Pittsburgh (-1) – 46.45 points
- Bethlehem (+1) – 38.91 points
- Atlanta 2 (-2) – 38.15 points
- Loudoun (-2) – 32.72 points
- Charlotte (+1) – 27.96 points
- Memphis (-1) – 24.49 points
- Swope Park – 14.01 points
- Hartford – 0.00 points
There are a couple major swings here that I don’t really get based on the results, and will have to attribute them to the out-of-town scoreboard (there was only one draw in the East – Nashville fans know which one that was – so the average PPG across the league shifted upward slightly, too): Ottawa made a big climb for… beating a mediocre Atlanta team? Birmingham the same for knocking off Loudoun? North Carolina’s drop makes more sense – that’s the SOS punishment for playing Hartford, and obviously it’ll level off a bit when everyone gets their obligatory three points there.
Red Bulls still look low because… well, the traditional table doesn’t show it, but I kind of think they deserve to be that low? Beating Indy at home is good, drawing Nashville at home is fine, but their other five games – including a loss – are against the bottom five teams in the conference. There’s really no way yet to evaluate how they’ll perform when they take on more reasonable opposition (and away from home), but for now the numbers are skeptical.
The East is broken into a few tiers: Saint Louis by themselves, Nashville and Ottawa together, a huge mass from there down to Pittsburgh at No. 11, and then the teams that (barring a change in form) aren’t likely to compete for playoff positions. Then Hartford all by its lonesome off the bottom of the chart. Seeing who climbs between tiers is going to be interesting to watch in the next few weeks.
USL West power rankings
- Portland Timbers 2 – 75.95 projected points
- New Mexico (+1) – 62.04 points
- Fresno FC (-1) – 59.27 points
- Tulsa Roughnecks (+3) – 54.71 points
- Sacramento Republic (-1) – 53.26 points
- Austin Bold (+4) – 51.59 points
- Real Monarchs (-2) – 48.65 points
- Reno 1868 (-2) – 45.61 points
- Phoenix Rising (+2) – 45.00 points
- LA Galaxy II (-2) – 43.66 points
- Orange County (-2) – 42.46 points
- OKC Energy – 42.46 points
- El Paso (+1) – 41.90 points
- San Antonio (+1) – 38.54 points
- Las Vegas Lights (-1) – 37.04 points
- Colorado Springs (-3) – 31.92 points
- Rio Grande Valley (+1) – 27.83 points
- Tacoma Defiance (-1) – 22.95 points
This is quite a bit more stable than the East, which you might expect given that teams here have played closer to the same number of games, and the overall number of games played here is a little higher (so there’s only so much more variance added week-to-week).
Like in the East, there’s a clear front-runner in the form of Portland Timbers 2, and a clear bottom-dweller in the form of Tacoma Defiance (whose numbers are a little propped up by that “let’s play six MLS guys” game against Sacramento Republic. They may pull that bag of tricks out again, but on a game-to-game basis, they’re no bueno). The middle is a little more muddled, even though we’re able to zoom in and get a bit more definition than the chart in the East.
Basically everyone down to No. 15 (Vegas) is one good result away from being reasonably in the playoff hunt projection-wise, so this should be a fun time to watch the West.