After 3 weeks of USL Championship soccer, we are starting to see less movement in the power rankings. Saint Louis FC broke the trend of teams ranked number 1 falling the next week, as they retained the top spot after earning a point against a good Tampa Bay Rowdies team. Sacramento Republic FC was finally able to move out of the 5th spot after being stuck there since the pre-season, and are now 2nd on the list. North Carolina FC had the week off from USL Championship action, and remain 3rd and Tampa Bay’s draw against the top team kept them in 4th. Rounding out the top 5 is Louisville City FC, who earned a full 3 points against a week Hartford Athletic team that is surprisingly not ranked last (that honor goes to Tacoma Defiance this week).
Orange County SC is stuck in the lower half of the power rankings after again coming up win less in their most recent match against New Mexico United. Their struggles to put together a solid 90 minute performance have resulted in dropped points, and have resulted in the 2nd furthest drop in the rankings since the pre-season (San Antonio FC is first, dropping 16 spots from 10 to 26).
After watching St. Louis and the Rowdies play this weekend, I can’t actually believe St. Louis are still on top of the power rankings. But their defense got a good test in, and held up well. They seem like they’re pretty good when no one gets sent off. It was a bit of a disappointment with the top two teams in the East going at it. Sam Fink giveth and Sam Fink taketh.
I called out Sac Republic as not being strong enough offensively in the first week and now I’m eating my words after they beat OKC via an 11 minute hat trick. Thanks, Cameron Iwasa. They’re deservedly at the top of the rankings based on their play, even if they haven’t faced a “big team” yet. They should easily sweep Tentacle FC aside this weekend (and yes, that’s my G-rated name for them).
Andre Rawls is the best goalkeeper in the league and no one can convince me otherwise. I know San Antonio is apparently unaware that the season has started and that matches now matter, but still. Rawls is dragging the Switchbacks up the table and the power rankings, and if he stays in Colorado Springs all season, he could very well be a Golden Glove finalist. Honestly just put Andre’s name up there, that’s all that matters to me.
I think it’s a bit unfair to Reno that they’re only sitting at 10th. I’m sure they’re used to playing on baseball fields, but Chukchansi Park is especially horrible. They dominated possession and took twice as many shots while away, and came from behind to draw. And still they dropped a spot in the rankings?
No change in Orange County’s spot, despite having some resolve in week three. And they did it without a good number of their regular starters. Against one of the most potent attacks in the league. So I can’t say I remotely agree with this week’s ranking. Some defensive errors dug an early hole, but Darwin Jones gave hope and Leonardo stole a point in extra time. Liam Trotter looked incredible, even if he’s not remotely quick. The British boys really do have a natural talent that is a whole other level. I'm hoping Forrester finds the net soon. I really don’t know what to expect from the team this week in El Paso, so I’ll settle for a draw.
What a week! Energy FC gets a drumming from Sacramento Republic led by a hat trick from Cameron Iwasa. Luca Lobo scores like 15 more goals for Tulsa and is leading the Golden Boot race early. What looked like early troubles for Orange County, now look like they ran into hot teams in Tulsa and New Mexico. Colorado looks pretty real right now too with two wins already in the early season. Fresno is another club that will be interesting to see where they end up after the first 10 games.
In the East, it was hard to argue that Saint Louis and The Rowdies wasn’t a fun watch, with Saint Louis a hand ball away from getting all the points from their first three games. Louisville has beaten up on lesser opponents, which is what playoff teams do. Nashville did not look great against the baby bulls and should have walked away with a loss, but managed to hold on to the draw.
Orange County sits at #20 and I really feel like we should split OC up into two teams. They haven’t put together a solid 90 in any of their three games. The second half, while they were playing from behind and had to, looked more aggressive and more dangerous. They pinned New Mexico back and fought their way back to a draw. The keeper play was much better, with some key saves that really kicked off the good play from Orange County. I would put the first half against Reno, the second half against Tulsa, and the first half against New Mexico in the bottom third of the league (probably somewhere around Las Vegas). I’d put the other halves right above Nashville. The bad new is OC only has 2 points through 3 games. The good news is they are only a point out of the playoffs. If OC can figure out that games are 90 minutes long, they could be a very competitive team. They have a little bit easier go of it in their next three where they will face El Paso, Colorado, and Tacoma.