Nashville SC

USL power ratings: Oct. 14, 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 ratings:

  1. Pittsburgh Riverhounds – 66.29 projected points
  2. Nashville SC – 65.42 points
  3. Indy Eleven – 61.85 points
  4. New York Red Bulls II – 60.42 points
  5. Tampa Bay Rowdies – 60.04 points
  6. Louisville City – 58.62 points
  7. North Carolina FC – 54.37 points
  8. Ottawa Fury – 57.71 points
  9. Charleston Battery – 44.10 points
  10. Saint Louis FC – 43.11 points
  11. Birmingham Legion – 41.55 points
  12. Loudoun United (+4) – 36.89 points
  13. Charlotte Independence – 36.18 points
  14. Memphis 901 (-2) – 36.12 points
  15. Atlanta United 2 (-1) – 35.80 points
  16. Bethlehem Steel (-1) – 32.28 points
  17. Hartford Athletic (+1) – 26.90 points
  18. Swope Park Rangers (-1) – 26.84 points

We’ve come to the point in the year where the level of specificity in the numbers (down to the hundredths place) is more academic than predicting the actual precise final point tallies, of course. We’ve also reached the point in the year where there’s not a ton of variability: the only changes in the order of the table came from teams already eliminated from playoff contention.

So, looking ahead: the math seems to think Pittsburgh and Nashville will get the same-ish points off Birmingham and Atlanta United, respectively, next weekend, and that decides the top of the table.

Speaking of Birmingham, they’re among the teams right near that playoff cutoff that have shown little interest in, you know, actually doing things to try to stay in that hunt. They remain a possibility because both Charleston and Saint Louis are similarly limping to the finish. If one of them can be more successful than the other in their respective mid-week games, that could be the decider come deadline day.

The only other positions close enough to change hands (and relevant enough that we care at all) are the 3-6 slots, which are basically capable of finishing in almost any order that doesn’t include Louisville in second or Indy in sixth. North Carolina and Ottawa can also technically swap spots with each other.

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Just one chart this week. Imagine, if you will, that Phoenix is waaay off the chart to the top, and Tacoma/Colorado Springs comfortably off it to the bottom.

USL West power ratings

  1. Phoenix Rising – 75.94 projected points
  2. Reno 1868 (+1) – 58.61 points
  3. Fresno FC (-1) – 58.74 points
  4. Real Monarchs (+4) – 54.16 points
  5. Orange County (-1) – 51.93 points
  6. El Paso Locomotive – 50.15 points
  7. Austin Bold (-2) – 50.14 points
  8. Sacramento Republic (-1) – 49.00 points
  9. LA Galaxy II (+1) – 46.39 points
  10. San Antonio FC (+1) – 45.97 points
  11. New Mexico United (-2) – 45.49 points
  12. Las Vegas Lights – 42.41 points
  13. Portland Timbers 2 – 40.67 points
  14. Rio Grande Valley (+1) – 39.50 points
  15. OKC Energy (-1) – 38.61 points
  16. Tulsa Roughnecks – 35.06 points
  17. Tacoma Defiance (+1) – 28.97 points
  18. Colorado Springs Switchbacks (-1) – 27.11 points

For the past several weeks, I’ve had to periodically remind that huge swings in those 4-12 positions (or so) in terms of ranking aren’t necessarily meaningful… but I’d say Real Monarchs’ climb this week is: wins over Orange County and Phoenix Rising saw them gain nearly five projected points, and with two games remaining (and Reno and Fresno both in weaker form of late) there’s a chance they sneak up a spot or two.

The 6/7 line is obviously an important one, and El Paso and Austin are separated by a hundredth of a projected point for that final first-round bye. From a practical standpoint, Austin is actually in better position (they hold the wins tiebreaker over El Paso), and given that they play Tacoma, they can hope to at least match El Paso’s result and get the nod.

The other intrigue is for that final playoff position, where there’s a seriously contentious battle. LA Galaxy II and San Antonio both managed to pass New Mexico for the final two playoff positions thanks to United’s loss to Tulsa(!), and while New Mexico still controls its playoff destiny with a game in hand over both teams and a GD tiebreaker over LA, they can’t survive any misstep.

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.

Screen Shot 2019-10-14 at 8.10.53 AM

Nashville moves up to second overall after a week in which they beat two playoff teams in the course of five days. The top three teams in the East remain pretty close, while there’s a small gap beyond that. In the West, Reno has – like in the Table Power – comfortably passed Fresno, and even Real Monarchs are stronger over the course of the season.

Lower in the table, the most notable change comes from Birmingham Legion, which was on the cusp of a playoff berth and lost 4-0 to Hartford Athletic last week. That’s, like, Lane Kiffin-leave-the-coach-on-the-tarmac type performance.

Games to watch

  • #BHMvNY (7:00 p.m. CDT Wednesday). This is a big game for both teams: Birmingham’s quest to make the playoffs is probably in the range where the term “sneak” must always be used, whereas New York is in position to earn one of the two outstanding second-round home games with a win.
    Numbers say: Birmingham Legion 0.83, New York Red Bulls II 1.32
  • #SLCvAUS (7:00 p.m. MDT Wednesday). The Real Monarchs are really making a push toward taking one of those top-three spots that have looked like locks for Fresno and Reno for ages now. Meanwhile, Austin is on the cusp of traveling or hosting in the first round (and they’re a bad road team, so that’s an important distinction for them), and a win in this one would even keep a first-round bye in range. This one was delayed from last week after the tragic death of Austin’s Promise Isaac.
    Numbers say: Real Monarchs SLC 2.78, Austin Bold 0.92
  • #PHXvOKC (6:30 p.m. MST Friday). This one shouldn’t be competitive. However, Phoenix, against a bad team, on Dollar Beer Night, with a chance to set the single season points record… this could be a fun one.
    Numbers say: Phoenix Rising 2.90, OKC Energy 1.05
  • #SLCvSAC (Noon MDT Saturday). The early game is the final piece for Real Monarchs’ drive to a top-four finish (pending the outcome of Wednesday’s game, of course), while Sacramento is sort of holding on in that crowded middle portion of the West table after looking like a solid No. 4 not too long ago.
    Numbers say: Real Monarchs SLC 2.10, Sacramento Republic 1.18
  • #NCvSTL (7:00 p.m. EDT Saturday). This is one of the few potential elimination games out there – Saint Louis could miss the playoffs without a result here, pending the outcomes of Birmingham and Charleston’s midweeks. Meanwhile, Carolina will probably have to win to keep the No. 7 spot over Ottawa (though picking their matchup may see them prefer eighth anyway).
    Numbers say: North Carolina FC 2.27, Saint Louis FC 0.76
  • #LAvELP (7:00 p.m. PDT Saturday). These two teams both feel pretty safe in the playoff field – and if El Paso wins its midweek game, will have locked up its spot before this game kicks off – but if things go sideways while San Antonio takes care of business against Colorado Springs, there’s a possibility LA gets knocked out, at least (and if El Paso somehow loses to Portland Tuesday, they may be in a similar boat).
    Numbers say: LA Galaxy II 0.90, El Paso Locomotive 1.22
  • #OCvFRS (7:00 p.m. PDT Saturday). Fresno is trying to give up its top-three spot, while Orange County is one of the teams that has made strides toward challenging for the No. 3 spot. Even though they’ve long run out of runway to accomplish that, OCSC could still get a first-round bye if out-of-town results go their way earlier in the day.
    Numbers say: Orange County SC 1.48, Fresno FC 1.25
  • #BHMvPIT (5:30 p.m. EDT Sunday). This could be a do-or-die game for Birmingham… while also a potential must-win for Pittsburgh to finish atop the East. With everything else wrapping up the day before, all eyes will be on Magic City.
    Numbers say: Birmingham Legion 0.31, Pittsburgh Riverhounds 1.21

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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