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USL Championship Power Rankings – Week 26

By NICHOLAS MURRAY - [email protected], 10/20/21, 2:00PM EDT

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Past week a reminder of the upsets and chaos the postseason could bring

Hello, and welcome to the latest edition of the Championship’s Power Rankings.

As if we needed a reminder, the past week provided a glimpse of what might be ahead when the postseason arrives. From Orange County SC taking victory against Phoenix Rising FC, to El Paso Locomotive FC falling on the road to the LA Galaxy II and Louisville City FC falling twice on the road, the playoffs are right around the corner, and in most years that’s where the real strangeness starts.

Recent history in the postseason, you see, has typically meant the unexpected. It’s been five years since the New York Red Bulls II became the last team to finish with the best record in the Championship and be the last team standing at the end of the playoffs. Historic seasons – like that of FC Cincinnati in 2018 and Phoenix Rising FC in 2019 – have fallen by the wayside when the postseason arrived.

Even last year, the winners of their respective conferences – the Tampa Bay Rowdies and Rising FC – had to win a game on the road on their way to silverware.

Does that mean the top sees in each division aren’t the favorites to challenge? Of course not, those squads are there for a reason. They’ve been the most consistent sides in terms of results throughout the year.

But as this past week illustrated, all it can take is one bad outing – or one superlative performance from an underdog – to bring the whole thing crashing down.

Here’s how the big picture looks elsewhere. As always, feel free to come and yell at me on Twitter (@NJEMurray).

Atlanta United 2 Austin Bold FC Birmingham Legion FC Charleston Battery Charlotte Independence Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC El Paso Locomotive FC
Hartford Athletic Indy Eleven LA Galaxy II Las Vegas Lights FC Loudoun United FC Louisville City FC Memphis 901 FC
The Miami FC New Mexico United New York Red Bulls II Oakland Roots SC OKC Energy FC Orange County SC Phoenix Rising FC
Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC Real Monarchs SLC Rio Grande Valley FC Sacramento Republic FC San Antonio FC San Diego Loyal SC Sporting KC II
Tacoma Defiance Tampa Bay Rowdies FC Tulsa

Biggest Movers

Rank

 

Team

Change

Summary

1 Birmingham Legion FC
(17-7-6)
Week 27: v. SKC

Last Week:
1
Legion FC extended its winning streak to five games last Wednesday night against Austin before being held on the road by OKC Energy FC. It’s still on course for first place in the Central, though.
2 Charlotte Independence
(16-9-4)
Week 27: @ HFD
4
Last Week:
6
The Independence have won four in a row after Saturday’s five-goal performance against Charleston and eight out of their last nine overall to move into second place in the Atlantic Division.
3 Phoenix Rising FC
(20-5-5)
Week 27: v. SAC
1
Last Week:
4
Lot of strangeness out there last week, including Phoenix after a 1-0 defeat to Orange County SC and a 6-3 win against Las Vegas Lights FC. Rising FC is close to clinching homefield advantage in the West, but it needs to address some things.
4 Tampa Bay Rowdies
(20-7-2)
Week 27: v. MIA, @ LDN
1
Last Week:
5
The Rowdies hammered away against the Red Bulls II but couldn’t find a breakthrough. Wednesday night’s game with Miami is now a must-win to stay in control over the race for the best record in the regular season.
5 San Antonio FC
(13-7-9)
Week 27: @ NM, v. ATX
4
Last Week:
9
San Antonio is undefeated in its last four games and well-set for the moment to take second place in the Mountain Division, but that could chance quickly if it doesn’t take something from Wednesday’s game against New Mexico.
6 El Paso Locomotive FC
(16-3-10)
Week 27: v. ATX, v. OKC
4
Last Week:
2
Speaking of weird weeks, Locomotive FC ran to a great win against Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC on Wednesday night and then suffered its worst defeat as a club against the Galaxy II. Getting people healthy for the playoffs might be the priority now, top seed in the West be damned.
7 San Diego Loyal SC
(14-10-5)
Week 27: @ OC, v. OAK
1
Last Week:
8
SD Loyal was so close to a fourth consecutive victory on Sunday before New Mexico’s equalizer deep in stoppage time, but it can still lock up second place in the Pacific if it gets past Orange County SC on Wednesday night.
8 Memphis 901 FC
(12-9-8)
Week 27: @ LOU
4
Last Week:
12
Victories against Louisville City FC and Atlanta United 2 plus a little help from Birmingham have Memphis in the postseason. With seven wins in their last 10 games, they’re looking in good form, too.
9 Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC
(15-8-7)
Week 27: v. CHS

Last Week:
9
PRO’s announcement on Tuesday regarding the incorrectly disallowed goal won’t be much consolation to the Hounds. Maybe it adds another chip to their shoulder for the upcoming postseason run?
10 Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC
(13-8-9)
Week 27: @ SLC

Last Week:
10
The Switchbacks lost a halftime lead in El Paso before taking a crucial late victory against Rio Grande Valley FC on Saturday. Second place is still potentially there for the taking with a visit to San Antonio on the final day of the season.
11 Louisville City FC
(16-7-7)
Week 27: v. MEM
8
Last Week:
3
Consecutive defeats to Memphis 901 FC and Indy Eleven was not the first official week in charge Head Coach Danny Cruz was hoping for. LouCity’s locked into a home playoff game, but will want to rebound at home this weekend against 901 FC.
12 LA Galaxy II
(11-12-6)
Week 27: @ CHS, @ TAC
3
Last Week:
15
There are some dynamic attacking duos in the Championship this season, but you can’t overlook what Preston Judd and Jorge Hernandez are doing with Los Dos with 27 of the clubs 52 goals between them.
13 The Miami FC
(14-8-7)
Week 27: @ TBR, v. NY
2
Last Week:
11
Miami FC might have got a let-off on Saturday night, but unless its takes victory on the road at Tampa Bay for the first time the No. 4 seed in the Atlantic is looking like its potential fate for the postseason.
14 Orange County SC
(12-10-7)
Week 27: v. SD, v. LV
5
Last Week:
19
Two solid victories thanks to a pair of goals by Ben Mines has Orange County right back on track. If it can make it three in a row against San Diego on Wednesday night, we’ve got a race for second place in the Pacific.
15 New Mexico United
(10-9-10)
Week 27: v. SA, @ RGV
1
Last Week:
16
After being on the wrong end of a few late-game equalizers this season, it’s got to have felt good for New Mexico to pull out the same trick against San Diego. If United takes a third consecutive home victory against San Antonio on Wednesday, it could be on its way to the playoffs.
16 FC Tulsa
(12-12-4)
Week 27: v. ATL, @ IND
2
Last Week:
14
Tulsa’s winless streak continued but earning a point in San Antonio is a solid return. Closing out a postseason spot across its two games this week should be achievable.
17 Oakland Roots SC
(9-13-7)
Week 27: @ TAC, @ SD
4
Last Week:
13
The road to the playoffs got a lot steeper for Oakland after its defeat to Orange County SC on Saturday night and could come to an end in Tacoma on Wednesday night.
18 OKC Energy FC
(8-9-13)
Week 27: @ ELP
2
Last Week:
20
Energy FC keeps hanging around, earning points against teams above it in the standings. This is the point where draws must turn into wins, though.
19 Indy Eleven
(9-14-7)
Week 27: v. TUL
9
Last Week:
28
The Boys in Blue have claimed the LIPAFC this season, and whatever happens from here that’s a big plus for a year that has otherwise not gone at all to plan.
20 Hartford Athletic
(11-14-4)
Week 27: v. CLT
7
Last Week:
27
Consecutive wins and another assist for Danny Barrera on Saturday night will get some positive vibes going as the Athletic look to close the season in positive fashion.
21 Austin Bold FC
(10-9-10)
Week 27: @ ELP, @ SA
4
Last Week:
17
Austin did all the work to come back against the Monarchs and then lost their heads. If they miss the postseason by a point, Saturday’s result is going to hurt that much more.
22 Rio Grande Valley FC
(10-11-8)
Week 27: v. NM
1
Last Week:
21
The Toros couldn’t hold on in Colorado Springs, and now have to sit and wait to see what New Mexico and Austin do on Wednesday night before welcoming United to H-E-B Park on Saturday in a game they have to win.
23 New York Red Bulls II
(5-17-7)
Week 27: v. LDN, @ MIA
2
Last Week:
25
For a second consecutive week, AJ Marcucci was the star of the show for the Red Bulls II. Ending their home slate on a high note against Loudoun on Wednesday would be good.
24 Tacoma Defiance
(9-13-7)
Week 27: v. OAK, v. LA
6
Last Week:
18
The Defiance’s loss to Las Vegas Lights FC on home turf might end up as the result that determines their playoff fate. Victory is essential against Oakland on Wednesday before they face the LA Galaxy II on Sunday.
25 Sacramento Republic FC
(8-12-8)
Week 27: v. LA, v. TAC
1
Last Week:
24
After consecutive draws with the Galaxy II and Tacoma, the final curtain is drawing in on Republic FC’s playoff bid.
26 Charleston Battery
(9-12-7)
Week 27: @ LA, v. PIT
4
Last Week:
22
The Battery made a solid push at the start of the second half to level against the Independence on Saturday night. Once the third goal went in, though, it felt all over.
27 Las Vegas Lights FC
(6-21-3)
Week 27: @ OC
3
Last Week:
30
A victory on the road in Tacoma and a hat trick for Cal Jennings – albeit while giving up six to Phoenix – made for an entertaining week at least for Lights FC fans.
28 Atlanta United 2
(8-13-10)
Week 27: @ TUL
5
Last Week:
23
Atlanta is officially out of postseason contention after Saturday’s loss in Memphis, but they’ve still got a role to play in their season finale against FC Tulsa on Wednesday night.
29 Real Monarchs SLC
(5-18-6)
Week 27: v. COS
2
Last Week:
31
The Monarchs’ attack exploded for four goals and a first win since August 7 against Austin, putting their mark on the Mountain Division’s playoff race.
30 Loudoun United FC
(4-21-3)
Week 27: @ NY, v. TBR
4
Last Week:
26
Loudoun battled its hardest in both games of the home-and-home series with Hartford Athletic but just couldn’t quite get across the line in either.
31 Sporting Kansas City II
(4-18-8)
Week 27: @ BHM
2
Last Week:
29
Two road games to go for SKC II over the next two weekends as they close out an entertaining but ultimately disappointing campaign.

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