USL power ratings: July 8, 2019

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Table Power

This rating method combines points per game with the quality of opposition played (also measured in points per game). It’s blind to home/away splits as well as scoring margin. The goal is to project a final table based on the games already played.

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USL East power rankings:

  1. Tampa Bay Rowdies – 71.69 projected points
  2. Indy Eleven – 70.95 points
  3. New York Red Bulls II – 62.53 points
  4. North Carolina FC – 58.90 points
  5. Ottawa Fury (+1) – 57.90 points
  6. Nashville SC (-1) – 55.46 points
  7. Louisville City (+1) – 53.30 points
  8. Pittsburgh Riverhounds (-1) – 52.14 points
  9. Charleston Battery – 47.36 points
  10. Saint Louis FC – 45.33 points
  11. Loudoun United (+1) – 37.27 points
  12. Charlotte Independence (+1) – 37.04 points
  13. Bethlehem Steel (-2) – 36.09 points
  14. Atlanta United 2 – 28.34 points
  15. Memphis 901 (+2) – 28.16 points
  16. Birmingham Legion (-1) – 26.87 points
  17. Swope Park Rangers (-1) – 25.71 points
  18. Hartford Athletic (-1) – 19.39 points

Tampa and Indy maintain their lead on the field, with Tampa holding onto the top spot over idle Indy (even though the Rowdies’ numbers dropped ever-so-slightly due to the out-of-town scoreboard and a softening of their own strength of schedule for playing Swope).

It wasn’t a crazy week in that chasing pack, but certainly a notable one: Louisville beat Nashville to firmly remove itself from bubble talk at this point, While North Carolina followed up it’s big week last time around by… drawing Charlotte at home. That saw NCFC drop, but Pittsburgh dropped the same amount despite coming away with a win: they actually lost to that very same Charlotte side. It’s particularly crazy because the Hounds have been one of the hottest teams in the East (probably second-hottest in USL behind Phoenix) in recent weeks, then that happens.

The group from No. 3 Red Bulls down to No. 8 Pittsburgh feels like a big, swirling mass that still have plenty of changes on the way in the coming weeks, with nothing remotely set in stone. Above them seems pretty locked in, while Charleston and Saint Louis feel locked below that group.

Speaking of that latter duo, though… are they (combined with some results from Charlotte, Bethlehem, and Loudoun) in danger of finally breaking up that “the teams that are in are settled” status? STLFC in particular has been on a hard downswing (while Charleston’s form is more level, and they’d probably have had a slight move up if their game against Atlanta hadn’t been postponed to weather). They have a mid-week Open Cup game, and even if they lose to Atlanta United 2, they probably have at least one more week of that extra fatigue factoring in – and given that their game this weekend is against a suddenly-surging Charlotte, it could bite them. We shall see if they recover after that.

Meanwhile, the teams currently on the wrong side of the playoff line are starting to separate themselves into three distinct groups. There are the three chasers, those that are already borderline eliminated (with Atlanta and Swope in different situations because they can get help from the parent club), and sadly, a Hartford team that looked like it would move toward the top of the crap pack has settled back in at the bottom.

For what it’s worth, we are one game away from having exactly half the schedule played in the Eastern Conference. We’ll get there Wednesday.

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USL West power rankings

    1. Phoenix Rising – 70.35 projected points
    2. Fresno FC – 63.02 points
    3. Reno 1868 – 60.88 points
    4. El Paso Locomotive (+2) – 53.39 points
    5. Portland Timbers 2 – 52.52 points
    6. Real Monarchs (+3) – 52.31 points
    7. Sacramento Republic (-3) – 52.10 points
    8. New Mexico United (-1) – 49.95 points
    9. Austin Bold (-1) – 48.77 points
    10. OKC Energy – 47.27 points
    11. Las Vegas Lights – 42.50 points
    12. Orange County (+1) – 41.44 points
    13. LA Galaxy II (+1) – 38.26 points
    14. San Antonio FC (+2) – 37.70 points
    15. Rio Grande Valley (-3) – 36.31 points
    16. Tulsa Roughnecks (-1) – 34.52 points
    17. Colorado Springs Switchbacks – 26.19 points
    18. Tacoma Defiance – 20.38 points

At this point, Phoenix is probably going to remain off the top of the chart for a while (at least unless somebody gets close enough that there’s not a massive gap between them and No. 2), while Colorado Springs is dangerously close to getting knocked off the bottom end of the chart, joining Tacoma Defiance. The drama about first and last – and second-last – just doesn’t exist in the West, but there’s quite a bit more intrigue in the middle.

Fresno and Reno took care of business to solidify their claims on the top two spots behind our benevolent overlord Phoenix Rising. Reno’s opposition was quite a bit less impressive (Rio Grande Valley), while Fresno not only helped themselves but knocked back a potential chaser in Sacramento Republic.

That group from No. 4 El Paso to No. 7 Sacramento is tight as can be, with all but Real Monarchs (a win over New Mexico United) actually moving down this week, but since they did it in lockstep, the team that moved down the least – El Paso – actually passed a couple of their rivals. A single result here would be plenty to shake things up in a major way.

Nw Mexico’s slide continues, and they’re very much in a similar position to Saint Louis FC in the other conference, with the slight distinction that they actually have a chance to beat their Open Cup opposition, Minnesota United, this Wednesday. Their depth situation is a bit better, too, but the reality remains that they’re pretty much gassed. That said, they’re still nearly 7.5 projected points removed from missing the playoffs, so if they can steady the ship just a tiny bit, they may be OK (and frankly, making the Open Cup semifinals would be well worth the cost of barely sneaking in).

Speaking of that playoff line, we’re starting to get juuuuust a bit of separation between 10 and 11, with OKC almost five points ahead of Las Vegas Lights. The next couple weeks should go a long way toward determining if that battle for the last playoff spot will get wrapped up early, or remain in contention for a while.

Pure Power

This ratings method uses scoring in each individual game (compared to the opponent’s averages) to determine teams’ overall quality. It’s blind to result but not location or score, making it essentially the opposite metric of Table Power. Zero is average for offense, defense, and total. A team with a 2.0 overall rating would be two standard deviations better than average, 1.0 is a single standard deviation better, etc.

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Tampa makes a nice run back up the table with a simple win over Swope Park Rangers – earning a multi-goal win, rather than grinding out a 1-0 result, is helpful there – and it’ll be interesting to see if the Rowdies get back to their early-season dominance in short order. Nashville moves down slightly after a loss in Louisville, but Pittsburgh’s own loss to Charlotte keeps them in striking distance for the Boys in Gold.

The margin of Reno’s win over RGV (4-0) is a boost to their numbers – like Tampa, more impressive than just taking care of business, and by an even great magnitude – and Reno takes the huge knock on the other side of that. The Toros have at times been a decent-to-good team, and we shall see if they manage to get back there.

Carolina drops precipitously for the aforementioned home draw (remember, this method is venue-aware) against Charlotte, and the Independence’s two-result week sees a reasonable climb in the ratings.

The other notable shift was San Antonio, who smacked Austin Bold in Alamo City in the mid-week. A home win over Austin is hardly anything to write home about, but doing it by a 4-0 score certainly helps the numbers.

Games to watch

Here are the games this week that should have interesting impacts on some of the numbers.

  • #BSTvNY (7:30 p.m. EDT Wednesday). The raw numbers may not give much intrigue to the matchup: the Baby Bulls are a much better side. However, NYRBII is a totally different team away from home than they are at home (to the negative), while a Bethlehem win makes a run to that No. 10 spot and a playoff berth much more realistic.
    Numbers say: Bethlehem 1.28, New York 1.72
  • #CLTvSTL (7:00 p.m. EDT Saturday). Charlotte is on a nice little run of form, while Saint Louis’s form has been poor for several weeks now. Add in that STLFC will be coming off an emotional (win or lose) US Open Cup game Wednesday, and there’s reason to believe that the Independence can get the result here. If they do, the Top-10, Bottom-8 divide in the East will basically disappear.
    Numbers say: Charlotte 1.07, Saint Louis 1.04
  • #AUSvOC (7:00 p.m. CDT Saturday). The projected table says these teams are sorta far apart, while the Pure Power says they’re comparable on a game-to-game basis. Of course, Austin is also a pretty good home team (5-1-3 at Bold Stadium), so maybe that’s a little bit of a red herring.
    Numbers say: Austin 1.49, Orange County 0.83
  • #SACvPOR (8:00 p.m. PDT Saturday). These teams share razor-thin margins both int he projected table and in terms of Pure Power – so I guess a draw would be an epically boring result here, but there’s a lot at stake in terms of positioning 4-8 in the West and on the top-15 cusp of the power ratings.
    Numbers say: Sacramento 1.92, Portland 2.16
  • #OTTvLOU (2:00 p.m. Sunday). Is Ottawa ready to solidify its claim on a top-4 spot in the East? Is Louisville’s recent resurgence for real, or just a blip for a team that remains a pretender in the East? We’ll have a heck of a data point in both regards in the final game of the weekend.
    Numbers say: Ottawa 1.92, Louisville City 1.22

As every week, thanks for reading. Feel free to share the power ratings to spread the good work of statistical analysis in USL.

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