USL Championship Power Rankings Watch: Week 15

A Phoenix Rising FC fan celebrates in the team’s 3-0 win over Orange County SC.  |   Photo courtesy of Michael Rincon/PHXRisingFC.com

A Phoenix Rising FC fan celebrates in the team’s 3-0 win over Orange County SC. | Photo courtesy of Michael Rincon/PHXRisingFC.com

They are back, and they do not look like they are going anywhere. As I tweeted earlier, Phoenix Rising FC is Peter Pan played by Robin Williams in “Hook” where one of the lost boys pushes his face back and states “There you are Peter”. They didn’t look their best against Orange County SC, but they are back. Five wins in a row with at least 3 goals in each of those proves it.

Indy Eleven and Nashville SC round out the top three. Both of those teams have 5 road wins, which leads the league. All three of those teams held on to their spots. Spots four and five are teams on the rise and have identical records. North Carolina FC has looked good as of late, and El Paso Locomotive FC is  unbeaten in the last nine games. I am not sure where El Paso came from, but they are one of the hottest teams in the league and are 2nd in the West.

It is also hard to argue over the next teams. New York Red Bull II is a good team, and is the only team in the league with 9 wins. They had a tough spell, but after loosing two games against good teams, they have bounced back with three straight wins (one of those was against Louisville City FC). 

Tampa Bay Rowdies, New Mexico United, and Portland Timbers 2 are teams that aren’t living up to their earlier form. Tampa Bay and New Mexico have had a couple of head scratching results, and Portland hasn’t been bad, just hasn’t been good and they have fallen to 4th in the West.

Rounding out the top ten is Reno 1868 FC, who, outside of coughing up a lead to San Antonio FC, has been pretty good. They have a tough game against Phoenix early in the week. If they can stun Phoenix they will cement themselves as a top ten team and a team looking for a home playoff game.

11th through 20th offer a mishmash of teams that can’t really figure themselves out. Louisville tumbled back down to earth and they fell just out of the top ten. Sacramento Republic FC has been good the last two games and they have Tulsa Roughnecks FC next so, they can easily be back up the standings where I thought they might be. Fresno FC hasn’t done enough, but they sit just four points back from first, so they can also do well with a home game against a terrible road team in San Antonio. 

Saint Louis FC, on the other hand, started hot and looked great in the Open Cup (they beat the MLS side Chicago Fire), but their form in the league has been disappointing for a team that should be fighting for home field, not fighting to just stay in the playoffs. They do have a game in hand or two on the rest of the East, but if they continue the current form they won’t make up much ground if any at all.

Austin Bold FC, OKC Energy FC, and RGV FC sit just about OCSC in 18th-20th. OKC and Austin have been underwhelming with Energy drawing San Antonio at home and Austin drawing Tacoma Defiance at home. Not to scary for the Orange and Black. RGV jumped over OC with a win against the Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC, but that isn’t that impressive either.

Orange County managed just one shot, which was from Vinicius quite early in the game, and they played one of their worst games of the season. Two defensive blunders directly contributed to two of the Phoenix goals. That game, could’ve easily been 1-0 or even 1-1 so it was very disappointing, but also hopeful because they played terrible and Phoenix still only managed to generate one goal from direct build-up play. Orange County has only lost 4 times, but the 7 draws are starting to add up, and OCSC looks like a bubble playoff team right now. That is not good enough for the talent on the field.

The surprise of the bottom third is Hartford Athletic. They have a lot of losses and not very many wins, but they look really close to putting together a run. They are pretty far back in the standings, but they have only lost once in their last 5. They have Birmingham Legion FC next and can pick up three points they can close the gap to the 10th place team to four points because the Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC have NYRB2 and Bethlehem Steel FC have Tampa Bay.

I also have to shout out to Charlotte Independance for picking up their second win. It’s not the season they were hoping for, but with a new coach who knows where they end up in a couple of weeks. The bottom third of the East is weak so they can go on a run too and end up fighting for a play in game just like Hartford.

Lastly, Las Vegas Lights FC destroyed New Mexico which either says something about where New Mexico is right now or is a ten man OC better than New Mexico…haha…nah, but dang, 5-1 is a crazy result for a Vegas team and that moves them just one goal in goal differential away from that 10th spot.

What a wild week!

What do you think? Do you agree with the power rankings? Share your thoughts in the comments below.