USL power ratings: May 14, 2018

There was plenty of shakeup in the Eastern Conference, with a third conference leader in the past three weeks emerging. The West was a little less ridiculous, but after the top spot, some definite shakeups were in play.

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USL East Power Rankings:

  1. Indy Eleven 3.04 (+2)
  2. FC Cincinnati 3.01 (-1)
  3. Louisville City 2.84 (-1)
  4. Nashville SC 2.50 (+2)
  5. Charleston Battery 2.40 (-1)
  6. Pittsburgh Riverhounds 2.31 (-1)
  7. Charlotte Independence 1.76 (+6)
  8. New York Red Bulls II 1.68 (+1)
  9. Bethlehem Steel 1.59 (-2)
  10. Tampa Bay Rowdies 1.48 (-2)
  11. Richmond Kickers 1.48 (+1)
  12. Penn FC 1.42 (-1)
  13. Ottawa Fury 1.33 (+2)
  14. North Carolina FC 1.21
  15. Atlanta United 2 (-5)
  16. Toronto FC II 0.34

Indy might have gotten off the hook by playing Friday evening: the other two teams in the conference’s top tier took tough road losses Saturday and Sunday, making the Eleven the new team atop the East. Nashville’s win propelled them into fourth in the league, but the big movers were Charlotte (up six spots after the win over Cincinnati – they’d long had a pretty good record, but playing and beating some decent competition took the strength of schedule component way up) and Atlanta 2 (down five after a loss to Ottawa, with basically the same reasoning working in reverse).

The tiers in the conference remain pretty steady: the top three teams are in a cohort of their own, while Nashville, Charleston, and Pittsburgh seem to be separating themselves from the pack when it comes to the next group. Assuming form holds relatively steady throughout the season, that likely means a pretty serious battle royale for the final two playoff spots come the end of the year.

At this point, Red Bulls II and Tampa Bay are in the playoff positions at Nos. 6 and 7 respectively (thanks to the stupid tiebreaker rule of total wins, rather than goal differential) without being in that top six group. We’ll see if they can maintain those spots when they no longer have more games played than the teams around them in the table.

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USL West Power Rankings

  1. Real Monarchs 4.16
  2. Phoenix Rising 2.44 (+2)
  3. Swope Park Rangers 2.40
  4. Orange County SC 2.29 (+3)
  5. Sacramento Republic 2.19 (-3)
  6. Portland Timbers II 2.02 (+2)
  7. San Antonio FC 1.89 (-1)
  8. Las Vegas Lights 1.85 (-3)
  9. Reno 1868 1.69 (+2)
  10. Colorado Spring Switchbacks 1.66
  11. St. Louis FC 1.63 (-2)
  12. Fresno FC 1.33 (+1)
  13. Rio Grande Valley 1.22 (+1)
  14. Seattle Sounders 2 1.20 (-2)
  15. LA Galaxy II 0.93 (+2)
  16. Tulsa Roughnecks 0.84 (-1)
  17. OKC Energy 0.46 (-1)

Things are a lot tighter here, aside from the top where Real Monarchs are way, way ahead of the pack. There’s variability week-to-week, no doubt, but the closeness of the conference means even really surprising results (LAGII with a big win, for example) are less so. There aren’t as defined tiers either, aside from Monarchs way ahead of the pack, and – despite the Galaxy’s win – the three bottom teams are probably still a ways behind that bunched-up middle.

Sacramento Republic was your big loser of the week, dropping three spots after a loss to Reno (and while the numbers don’t take home/road into account, they have no business losing that one at home). A nosedive for Las Vegas also continues, with the Lights losing to Colorado Springs (just a few days after drawing Tulsa, though that result was in the previous week’s numbers).

The top five(ish) look relatively safe for the playoffs if form basically holds, though the table and power ratings are tight enough that the only sure things are Real Monarchs making it, and LAGII, Tulsa, and OKC probably not being able to do so (Sounders 2 and RGV on the borderline of that territory, too).

Methodology note: No home/away or goals for/against numbers are included in the rankings. It’s strictly points per game multiplied by a strength of schedule component (opponents’ points per game, excluding games against the team of interest).

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