USL power ratings: July 29, 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 – 70.66 projected points
  2. New York Red Bulls II (+1) – 65.25 points
  3. Indy Eleven (-1) – 63.48 points
  4. Nashville SC (+1) – 60.31 points
  5. Pittsburgh Riverhounds – 57.16 points
  6. North Carolina FC (+1) – 55.42 points
  7. Ottawa Fury (-3) – 55.09 points
  8. Charleston Battery – 50.34 points
  9. Louisville City – 47.53 points
  10. Saint Louis FC – 43.58 points
  11. Loudoun United (+3) – 38.28 points
  12. Birmingham Legion (+1) – 37.53 points
  13. Charlotte Independence (-2) – 36.97 points
  14. Bethlehem Steel (-2) – 36.77 points
  15. Memphis 901 – 32.37 points
  16. Swope Park Rangers – 27.61 points
  17. Atlanta United 2 – 24.44 points
  18. Hartford Athletic – 20.67 points

There wren’t too many huge swings in the raw numbers, but there were extremely meaningful results throughout the depth of the East (at least as meaningful as they can be for the teams that appear to be on the outside looking in playoffs-wise).

Red Bulls II won a six-pointer against Tampa Bay, and Nashville SC did the same against Indy, tightening things up just a bit at the top of the league. This is… sort of back to the status quo before weird swings in form for a couple of the teams (primarily Nashville and NYRBII taking turns dropping a couple results within the past several weeks).

Meanwhile, Ottawa Fury lost to Memphis, dropping them to the bottom of the pack trying to avoid a play-in game (and currently in that No. 7 spot, having to take on No. 10). That group still has a bit of distance on those behind them. Louisville’s loss to Loudoun United sees them fail to hop up into the potential first-round bye set – though they aren’t so far that a good run of form can’t change that. Loudoun is suddenly in the No. 11 spot, closest to picking off a playoff position.

Every time I’m about ready to write off Saint Louis, they have a bit of a bounceback, and knocking off Bethlehem was basically a six-pointer for them. They also got help from Birmingham, which knocked of Charlotte (and moved near the top of that non-playoff group, with only Loudoun separating them from a chance to pass Saint Louis directly).

As you can see with Memphis’s recent trajectory, nobody’s more than a couple good weeks away from getting into the mix, but the longer they go without starting such a run, the less realistic the chance becomes. Pending results over the next week, we could have our first instance in which a given team (Hartford) can’t finish first in the conference… and we’re probably only mid-August away from saying that a team’s projection basically eliminates them from playoff contention.

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USL West power rankings

  1. Phoenix Rising – 72.94 projected points
  2. Fresno FC – 63.95 points
  3. Reno 1868 – 62.02 points
  4. Austin Bold (+2) – 53.96 points
  5. New Mexico United (+3) – 50.79 points
  6. El Paso Locomotive (+1) – 49.61 points
  7. Real Monarchs (-2) – 49.63 points
  8. Sacramento Republic (-4) – 47.82 points
  9. Portland Timbers 2 – 45.44 points
  10. OKC Energy – 44.25 points
  11. San Antonio FC (+1) – 44.23 points
  12. Orange County (+1) – 43.36 points
  13. LA Galaxy II (+2) – 42.03 points
  14. Las Vegas Lights (-3) – 41.72 points
  15. Rio Grande Valley (-1) – 37.32 points
  16. Colorado Springs Switchbacks – 32.09 points
  17. Tulsa Roughnecks – 29.60 points
  18. Tacoma Defiance – 22.37 points

This was a week of major convergence in the West: almost everybody moved toward about a 45-point mark – some more severely than others – with just a couple exceptions. Phoenix remained about static (they dropped a tiny bit, just because they didn’t have much to gain from playing Tulsa and the out-of-town scoreboard was slightly harsh on them), while Austin Bold and New Mexico United made climbs, Vegas was below 45 and slid, and three of the bottom four teams did the same.

Fresno and Reno took really big hits with 1868 getting blasted midweek by Orange County SC, and the Foxes falling to Austin Bold. They still have a pretty healthy lead on the teams behind them – particularly thanks to the most of those squads dropping down, aside from Austin – and it’s unlikely they go anywhere unless poor form continues.

New Mexico United and El Paso Locomotive both had bounceback weeks after reasonably lengthy slides of their own for two expansion teams that were near the top of the West for a long stretch – that seems like it was ages ago, but really only ended within the past month-ish.

The margin between Nos. 10 and 11 (i.e. making or missing the postseason) is all of 0.02 projected points… the battle for the final spot remains far more interesting over here, even if Phoenix is making the top very predictable.

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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Hello, Nashville! A comfortable win over Indy Eleven sees them rise in a major way in Pure Power, while Indy doesn’t drop significantly (it wasn’t a banner performance for the Eleven by any stretch, but a two-goal road loss is hardly the end of the world).

New York Red Bulls II climb with a big Friday win over Tampa Bay Rowdies, and while the defense and road form still aren’t much, they also provide plenty of opportunity to climb quickly if things get turned around there.

Ottawa Fury and Louisville City FC drop bigtime in the East after upset losses to Momephis 901 FC and Loudoun United, respectively, with each being downed by multiple goals. That makes the gap between the haves and have-nots in the East pretty massive (much more than it is on the projected table).

The West was much more about small movement (like it was on the projected table), and even a win for Tacoma – they beat Vegas by four goals mid-week – they aren’t particularly close to being anything but acres away from moving up to second-worst in the league. They’re so, so much worse on a game-to-game basis than the projected table, just because of the margins by which they consistently lose.

Games to watch

  • #NMvELP (7:00 p.m. MDT Wednesday). Both teams had a bounceback performance this week. If we get a winner in their head-to-head, it’d be safe to say that team is back on the right track, while the loser still has work to do to get there. A draw would be un-fun, to me.
    Numbers say: New Mexico 0.94, El Paso 0.98
  • #NYvSTL (7:00 p.m. EDT Friday). I’ll admit this isn’t the most compelling game on its own merit, but is the most interesting on a pretty crowded Saturday, so it gets the treatment. A loss probably doesn’t hurt Saint Louis too much in the projected table, but if other results go against them, trouble time may finally be here after teasing us for several weeks. If they get the upset in Montclair, their flirt with disaster could get a temporary stay.
    Numbers say: New York 2.39, Saint Louis 0.51
  • #NCvIND (7:00 p.m. EDT Saturday). These sides are close in Pure Power, even if Indy’s ability to more consistently take care of business has a wider gap in the projected table. A road trip to Cary beckons, and if NCFC can snag a winner, suddenly Indy’s spot among the East elites is in serious question. If the Eleven can get a winner, they’re looking rosy for that top-4 spot. It’s worth noting that these two have the easiest schedules (Table Power) in the East to date.
    Numbers say: North Carolina 1.56, Indy 1.23
  • #SAvSAC (7:30 p.m. CDT Sunday). These teams have been converging toward each other for a couple weeks now, and San Antonio is staking a serious claim on rounding into a playoff contender. Hosting a Sacramento team in a bit of a poor spell is a good venue to try to keep the good vibes rolling, and would certainly have SAFC feeling like the postseason is no longer a pipe dream – after that maybe wasn’t the case a few weeks ago.
    Numbers say: San Antonio 1.46, Sacramento 0.76

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

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