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). There’s still a lot of season – 76.3% of it, to be precise – to be played.
The cancellation of the Saint Louis/Ottawa game is a particular bummer to me, because it would have been very interesting as a clarifying factor near the top: would Saint Louis have extended its lead on the field, or would Ottawa have pulled itself into that top tier while bringing STLFC down to a trio with themselves and Nashville? Alas, we’ll have to wait for that. (I must note that I’m actually a skeptic on Ottawa, whose low number of games played inserts even more noise than the rest of teams have at this point. I expect they’ll drop into the middle of that clustered tier).
Hey! First point for Hartford! Sure, it came at the expense of a Charlotte team that seems determined to prove it’s as bad as early-season returns made it seem, but beggars can’t be choosers by any stretch of the imagination. Against my better judgment, I re-scaled the chart to include Hartford at the very bottom. Depending on how big the gap between them and Swope becomes, they may drop off in future editions to give us a bit more clarity in the more relevant middle portions of the chart.
Swope and Louisville have a Monday evening game tonight, which is a minor annoyance given that this is a Monday morning feature. A hypothetical Louisville win (the expected result) wouldn’t change much, but a tie or Swope win would drop LCFC pretty precipitously, for what it’s worth.
USL East power rankings:
- Saint Louis – 75.42 projected points
- Nashville – 67.96 points
- Ottawa – 62.22 points
- Indy – 61.04 points
- NYRB2 (+5) – 59.00 points
- Tampa Bay – 56.32 points
- Charleston – 54.65 points
- North Carolina – 53.53 points
- Pittsburgh (+2) – 00.02 points
- Louisville City (-1) – 49.45 points
- Birmingham (-6) – 47.00 points
- Atlanta 2 (+1) – 35.33 points
- Bethlehem (-1) – 35.22 points
- Loudoun – 32.30 points
- Charlotte – 25.41 points
- Memphis – 23.18 points
- Swope Park – 13.53 points
- Hartford – 4.04 points
The status overall isn’t so different from last week: Saint Louis is comfortably ahead of the pack, Nashville solidified its position in a tier (just) above the chasing group, and then there’s a large mass. As things stand now, basically anyone from Ottawa to Birmingham looks to have a reasonable shot to land at any point within those 3-11 positions
USL West power rankings
- Fresno FC (+1) – 70-.71 projected points
- Portland Timbers 2 (-1) – 59.69 points
- New Mexico – 59.33 points
- Reno 1868 (+1) – 53.95 points
- Tulsa Roughnecks (+2) – 53.31 points
- OKC Energy (+3) – 52.65 points
- El Paso (+5) – 50.16 points
- Rio Grande Valley (+7) – 49.36 points
- LA Galaxy II (+2) – 47.60 points
- Austin Bold (-6) – 46.16 points
- Orange County (+3) – 45.60 points
- Real Monarchs (-4) – 43.23 points
- Sacramento Republic (-7) – 41.45 points
- Phoenix Rising (-4) – 40.02 points
- Las Vegas Lights (+2) – 39.33 points
- San Antonio (-3) – 34.00 points
- Colorado Springs (-1) – 30.51 points
- Tacoma Defiance – 19.37 points
‘Twas a wild week in the West, with teams making seven-position climbs (Rio Grande Valley), seven-point drops (Sacramento Republic), and just about everything in between. RGV’s big climb was facilitated by a win over Portland Timbers 2 that saw T2 drop out of its comfortable slot at No. 1. Republic lost to a Las Vegas team that only made a marginal gain with the victory.
It’s important to note even with these wild position changes how close things still are, though. Barely more than 14 projected points separate No. 4 Reno from No. 15 Vegas. An upset here or there, and you’re bound to see some major changes. essentially nobody outside of Tacoma (barring a return of the MLS Sounders to the lineup) should really feel completely out of it at this point.
There are a couple games of particular note in terms of potential impact this week (particularly midweek): Sacramento Republic makes the relatively short trip to Fresno to try to knock off the current No. 1 team (and prove their early-season form is merely temporary), while Austin hosts OKC and Phoenix hosts Rio Grande Valley, each with the chance to flip their respective positions back to perhaps what we expected in preseason.
It’s worth noting that, even if the chart here looks less bunched than the East, it’s actually more so, thanks to the scale: it runs from 10 to 75, rather than the 0 to 85 range of the East’s chart. This is a very tightly-bunched race.