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USL Power Rankings – Week 30

By USLSoccer.com Staff, 10/08/18, 5:30PM EDT

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Orange County, Phoenix set for tense finale at top of the West

Since it became a two-team race to the top spot in the USL’s Western Conference it’s been hard to pick a winner between Orange County SC and Phoenix Rising FC, so it may only be appropriate that the teams are tied for second in the penultimate edition of this year’s USLSoccer.com Power Rankings with the final week of the season set to determine whether the road to the Western Conference Championship will go through Champions Soccer Stadium or the Phoenix Rising Soccer Complex later this month.

If there’s one thing that looks likely it’s that more pressure rests on the shoulders of Phoenix Rising FC. While games in hand are in theory a good thing to have, the necessity of taking all three points can certainly put a different aspect on things. That’s the situation Rising FC faces in its Wednesday night meeting with Las Vegas Lights FC to ensure it enters the final weekend level pegging with its California rivals.

The other thing that might be in Orange County’s favor is history. Only once before has first place in either conference been determined by a tiebreaker, and it fell to OCSC’s advantage when its 14 victories outstripped OKC Energy FC to claim the top spot in 2015. With a three-goal edge in goal differential and an eight-goal lead in goals scored, should the teams end with the same record – as certainly looks likely – Phoenix would need to potentially make up those difference in its two wins over the week.

In a final week that has plenty to play for up and down the Eastern and Western Conference, this is shaping up to be the biggest race of all that are going to come down to the wire on Saturday.

The four-person USLSoccer.com voting panel tabulates 16 points for first-place team votes, 15 points to the second-place team and so forth to one point for 16th place. The accrued points among the group determines the final ranking.

Rank

 

Team/Record

Change

Summary

1 FC Cincinnati
64 pts | (23-3-7)
Week 30: T, 0-0 @PGH
Week 31: @NSH

Last Week: 1
The winning streak is over for FCC, but a staunch defensive effort means the record for the longest undefeated streak is in view after tying the 2013 Richmond Kickers on 22 games in a row without a loss. Now all that stands in the way is… Nashville SC.
T-2 Orange County SC
58 pts | (20-7-6)
Week 30: W, 2-1 SEA
Week 31: @RNO
1
Last Week: 3
Game-winners don’t come much later than Aodhan Quinn’s 94th-minute tally against Seattle Sounders FC 2, and as he kept his cool he also added to the pressure on Phoenix as OCSC took its fifth consecutive win.
T-2 Phoenix Rising FC
58 pts | (19-7-6)
Week 30: T, 0-0 RNO
Week 31: @LV, POR

Last Week: 2
There was plenty of good to take out of Saturday’s 0-0 draw with Reno, but the lack of a game-winning goal added pressure to Wednesday night’s contest with Las Vegas Lights FC as Rising FC looks to pull level with Orange County.
4 Louisville City FC
51 pts | (17-6-9)
Week 30: W, 3-1 @TOR
Week 31: NC, IND

Last Week: 4
Four consecutive victories? Check. Sole possession of second place? Check. Hitting form just in time to make a playoff run? We’ll see after this week’s games with a desperate North Carolina FC and Indy Eleven.
5 Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC
48 pts | (15-4-13)
Week 30: T, 0-0 CIN
Week 31: @ATL, @NY

Last Week: 5
Pittsburgh know it has what it takes to compete with any team in the league. When the playoffs arrive, Neco Brett and co. will need to produce the sort of finishing that proves it.
6 Sacramento Republic FC
45 pts | (18-7-8)
Week 30: W, 3-1 SPR, W, 2-1 @LA
Week 31: LV

Last Week: 6
Three wins on the spin after a solid week of work have kept Republic FC in touch just in case Phoenix falters, but a guaranteed top-three finish is certainly tough to beat.
7 Reno 1868 FC
40 pts | (15-7-11)
Week 30: W, 2-0 @POR, T, 0-0 @PHX
Week 31: OC
2
Last Week: 9
A six-game undefeated streak certainly isn’t a bad way to head into the playoffs, and 1868 FC will see if it can make it seven when it heads to Orange County on Saturday night for a game that could have high stakes for both.
T-8 Charleston Battery
30 pts | (13-6-14)
Week 30: L, 1-2 @ATL
Week 31: @OTT
1
Last Week: 7
Look, the Battery are probably going to be fine, but back-to-back defeats against Toronto FC II and ATL UTD 2 doesn’t inspire a terrific amount of confidence as the playoffs approach.
T-8 Indy Eleven
30 pts | (13-10-10)
Week 30: T, 1-1 BST
Week 31: @LOU
2
Last Week: 10
Indy got plenty to handle from Bethlehem Steel FC but could have grabbed victory itself in a tremendous game at Lucas Oil Stadium. Getting something from a trip to Louisville is going to be important this Saturday if the Eleven don’t want a return trip the following week.
10 Portland Timbers 2
26 pts | (16-13-4)
Week 30: L, 0-2 RNO
Week 31: @PHX
2
Last Week: 8
Defeat to Reno ensured a top-four finish won’t be possible for T2, but Portland is going to be a handful on the road in the postseason with its speed.
11 Bethlehem Steel FC
20 pts | (13-12-8)
Week 30: T, 1-1 @IND
Week 31: TBR
2
Last Week: 13
If not for a brilliant goal, Bethlehem could have defeated Indy Eleven for the second time on the road this season and is playing with intelligence that is far beyond the average age of its starting lineup.
12 Nashville SC
18 pts | (12-9-11)
Week 30: W, 3-0 @RIC
Week 31: TOR, CIN

Last Week: NR
The door to a fifth-place finish has swung open for Nashville as it enters its final two games of the season. There’s just the matter of beating both last-place Toronto FC II and first-place FC Cincinnati to cross the threshold.
13 Real Monarchs SLC
17 pts | (18-12-3)
Week 30: W, 2-1 OKC
Week 31: @FRS
1
Last Week: 14
Victory against OKC Energy FC coupled with Reno 1868 FC’s draw in Phoenix means the Monarchs can clinch a home playoff game with victory against Fresno, but the side will need to earn its first road win since June 16 to get there.
T-14 Saint Louis FC
13 pts | (13-9-10)
Week 30: --
Week 31: TUL, OKC
3
Last Week: 11
Saint Louis had the pressure turned up a little bit more by San Antonio FC this weekend, after six consecutive home victories can STLFC close out its first trip to the postseason?
T-14 Swope Park Rangers
13 pts | (14-11-8)
Week 30: L, 1-3 @SAC
Week 31: LA
2
Last Week: 12
The Rangers missed out on their first chance to clinch a playoff spot, and now it could come down to the final game on Sunday against the LA Galaxy II. No pressure, guys.
16 New York Red Bulls II
7 pts | (11-8-13)
Week 30: W, 2-1 @NC
Week 31: @PEN, PGH

Last Week: 16
New York’s habit of getting reduced to 10 men hasn’t come back to bite it badly in its last two games, and now victory against Penn FC on Tuesday night could be enough for another postseason trip.

Dropped from rankings: North Carolina FC (15)

Also receiving votes: San Antonio FC 5, Charlotte Independence 1

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