After two crazy weeks of USL Championship action in the books, the power rankings list has changed even more. Teams that were early season favorites on the top of the list in the preseason (Louisville City FC, Phoenix Rising FC, Nashville SC, Indy Eleven) have all dropped points in the early season, and thus have dropped from their initial rankings. Other teams have taken advantage by not dropping points, and have moved to the top of the list (Saint Louis FC, OKC Energy FC, North Carolina FC, Tampa Bay Rowdies).
And then there is Sacramento Republic FC, who seem to be stuck at number 5 regardless of their results. Maybe there is an error with the rankings that has them permanently stuck at 5. Or maybe the league had them placed perfectly in the preseason rankings.
Here are the highlights:
With their win, Tulsa moved up 10 spots to number 19 in the rankings, just ahead of Orange County, and tied for the biggest jump up with Fresno FC.
After struggling to get 1 point against New Mexico United, Phoenix dropped to number 7 after just one week in the top spot.
Preseason number 1 Louisville City FC dropped again, this time to number 8 (from 7) even after getting a full 3 points against Atlanta United 2.
Saint Louis FC (1), OKC Energy FC (2), North Carolina FC (3), and Tampa Bay Rowdies (4), are all off to a strong start, having not dropped any points. It’s early in the season, but those 4 have been the strongest so teams so far.
Hey, good on Saint Louis. I think getting blanked by us last October inspired them to do better this year. Beating the big teams in the East is a big accomplishment, even if it seems that they haven’t quite gelled yet. They’ll put a big strain on the Rowdies’ back line this weekend, and I honestly don’t know what side will prevail. It’ll be the decider if defense or offense wins championships though.I don’t know if this form is sustainable, but even Leicester won the Premier League over Tottenham, so I suppose anything’s possible.
Two wins in two games is a dream start for OKC, and they showed against Vegas that they’ll be a big threat on the counter attack as long as Gordon is on the pitch. Defensively, they were average, and I don’t think they would’ve won that game if they had been in Vegas. They might not be top of the table quality, but they’re going to be a big playoff threat. Especially against tired legs. I’d be worried if I was a member of Sac Republic.
The hope I hold for this season is that Phoenix’s defense will continue to be as bad as ours, and they’re thankfully obliging. Three LAFC loanees played for them, making them the unofficial new “LAFC 2,” I guess. Their attack is still potent, and they only saw three yellows, so they’re improving. I expected a red card for at least one player on either side in this game, and I was wrong. But conceding six goals through just two games? That’s unheard of!
Somewhere way down below… we’ve conceded seven! I’ve never been so happy not to deal with soccer as I was after the game on Saturday night. It was embarrassing. OC needs a proven goalkeeper to keep things calm at the back. I miss Andre. Loanee Hugo Arellano seems to fit the system well, and I’m excited to see how he develops here. Seaton was a big miss, though we’re not sure of why. Jerry van Wolfgang got absolutely obliterated and no one did anything about it for five minutes. I hope he’s okay, but we have no idea. I’m not excited to face New Mexico.
Some things stick out to me this week. After watching Saint Louis the past two weeks, they deserve to be in the top spot this week. They were dangerous at the end of last season and they are playing compelling soccer at the start of this one. I think the biggest surprise is the North Carolina team. I don't think they were on anyone's radar as a top team in the East, but here they are. It will be interesting to see if they can maintain that form. Tampa Bay traveling to Saint Louis should be a fun game to check out.
Indy Eleven also is interesting. Sure they won, but the way they almost gave the game away at the end to Charlotte has me worried about where that team ends up. They cannot afford to give up goals like that, even on the road, if they want to be in the top half of the East come playoff time.
There were several teams making huge jumps up and down, and I think we will get that through at least week four as teams establish identities. Early season is more about what's on the paper, but in two more weeks we should have a better idea of what that means for who shows up on the pitch.
With regards to Orange County, it isn't much of surprise to see them tumble down the power rankings after the thrashing they took at the hands of a rebuilt Tulsa squad. This loss was historic and will hopefully light a fire under the team because they have a tough test against New Mexico on Saturday. Orange County has signed some defensive help, but it hasn’t yet translated to the field. Hopefully some of the new players can add speed and set piece coverage, because both have been extremely lacking.
The offense does looks dangerous though, as Orange County created a lot great chances and could have easily had four or five goals. The problem isn't on that side of the ball. While I am sure they miss Enevoldsen, it does look like they will be fine without him. Orange County does not look like a playoff team just yet, but they did start last year 0-1-1 drawing Phoenix and losing to Sacramento to start their season last year, so hopefully a good run of form is on the horizon.
What are your thoughts? Share below in the comments.
Click the link below to see the full USL Championship Power Rankings.