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USL Championship Power Rankings – Week 14

By USLChampionship.com Staff, 09/28/20, 5:30PM EDT

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Surprise, surprise. Look who’s sitting at No. 1 as we enter the final week of the season

TAMPA, Fla. – Every year, it’s like clockwork.

The calendar turns to August 1, flowers bloom, birds sing harmoniously around downtown Louisville, and no matter what has happened in the prior weeks, Louisville City FC makes its charge toward the postseason.

This year it’s mattered more than before. On July 30, the team was coming off a 2-1 defeat to Sporting Kansas City II at Lynn Family Stadium. The result dropped LouCity’s odds on fivethirtyeight.com of reaching the playoffs to just 25 percent.

Since then? The side has recorded the most points in the Championship, going 8-0-2 over its last 10 games while looking exactly like the sort of team that can make another run at a title. Only San Antonio FC and Reno 1868 FC can say they have notched 26 points across the same span, and they both had more games to get there and suffered defeats along the way.

After his side clinched Group E with a hard-fought 1-0 win against Saint Louis FC on Saturday night, LouCity Coach John Hackworth was full of praise for his squad’s run to the top of the standings.

“I just can’t say enough about the group of men in there,” he said. “Their resolve and their character to fight back and perform at a high level and do it consistently through this stretch, that’s really hard to do in our sport. Huge credit goes to the players in that locker room.”

This year’s run is hardly an outlier to the way LouCity has performed over the past three seasons, though. In fact, the club’s combined record between August 1 and the end of the regular season across 2017 to now is 34-6-12.

This is just what LouCity does at this time of year, every year. It’s why the three-time defending Eastern Conference-title holder appears the favorite to represent the Eastern Conference again on November 1 in the 2020 USL Championship Final.

There are certain to be challenges to come in the postseason. But until they’re vanquished, would you bet against them?

Here’s where we stand overall this week. As always, feel free to come and yell at me on Twitter if you’d like (@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 North Carolina FC OKC Energy FC Orange County SC Philadelphia Union II
Phoenix Rising FC Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC Portland Timbers 2 Real Monarchs SLC Reno 1868 FC Rio Grande Valley FC Sacramento Republic FC
Saint Louis 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 Louisville City FC
(10-3-2)
Week 15: SKC
1
Last Week:
2
Ten games undefeated and five wins in a row have LouCity flying toward the postseason, and they could still grab the best record in the conference with a win on Saturday night.
2 El Paso Locomotive FC
(8-2-4)
Week 15: @COS, @SLC
1
Last Week:
3
Locomotive FC looks likely to clinch Group C in its final two games of the regular season and is on a 10-game undefeated streak of its own as it approaches the playoffs.
3 Reno 1868 FC
(10-2-2)
Week 15: LV, @TAC
2
Last Week:
5
Reno couldn’t find a way past Sacramento Republic FC in their four meetings this season. Everyone else on the schedule, though? Reno beat them all, and that’s why it’s going to win Group A.
4 Charleston Battery
(8-2-3)
Week 15: @MIA, @TBR
2
Last Week:
6
The Battery are ready for their Florida swing to end the regular season, starting in Miami on Wednesday night.
5 Tampa Bay Rowdies
(10-2-3)
Week 15: CHS
4
Last Week:
9
The Rowdies can finish with the most points in the Eastern Conference with a win against Charleston on Saturday night. When you’re undefeated at Al Lang Stadium this season, that would be a very good thing.
6 Phoenix Rising FC
(9-3-2)
Week 15: @SD, LA
4
Last Week:
10
Rising FC produced when it needed to against Orange County, but still needs a big finish to try and earn more than one home game at Casino Arizona Field in the playoffs.
7 Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC
(10-4-1)
Week 15: PHI
6
Last Week:
1
Hartford Athletic shocked the Hounds on Saturday. What does that mean? If the Athletic win out, Pittsburgh’s heading back to Lynn Family Stadium to start the playoffs.
8 San Antonio FC
(10-2-3)
Week 15: @ATX
4
Last Week:
4
That was a tough way to go down in Tulsa, but SAFC took account for its own misses in front of goal in its postgame reaction. Finding a good performance to wrap up against Austin would be a good platform to build on.
9 San Diego Loyal SC
(6-4-5)
Week 15: PHX
1
Last Week:
8
SD Loyal needs everything to fall right for it to reach the playoffs, including beating Phoenix on Wednesday night. But wouldn’t it be something if they pull it off?
10 Sacramento Republic FC
(7-1-6)
Week 15: @TAC, POR
2
Last Week:
12
Sacramento is undefeated in its last 10 games, but it’s also drawn its last three. Still feels like Republic FC is going to be a tough out in the playoffs, though.
11 Hartford Athletic
(9-3-2)
Week 15: @PHI, @NY
4
Last Week:
15
Hartford opened the door to first place on Saturday night by defeating Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC. Now, can it walk through with victories against the Union II and Red Bulls II this week?
12 Charlotte Independence
(7-4-4)
Week 15: @NC
5
Last Week:
7
The Independence missed out on a big chance to move into first place in Group G when they lost to Memphis 901 FC. Now they’ve got an even bigger game up next against North Carolina.
13 New Mexico United
(7-4-3)
Week 15: @SLC

Last Week:
13
United might have been a bit fortunate not to go behind early in El Paso, but the visitors had chances of their own after they came into the game. It’s still looking like a trip to San Antonio to open the playoffs, though.
14 FC Tulsa
(4-2-7)
Week 15: OKC, COS
3
Last Week:
17
Tulsa turned the Group D playoff race on its head thanks to Eric Bird’s game-winner against San Antonio. Now it’s got to do the same against OKC Energy FC on Wednesday night.
15 Birmingham Legion FC
(7-4-4)
Week 15: @MEM
4
Last Week:
11
Birmingham will sit and watch Charlotte and North Carolina square off on Wednesday night, which will dictate what it might need to do to claim first place in the group on Saturday against Memphis.
16 LA Galaxy II
(7-5-2)
Week 15: OC, @PHX
2
Last Week:
14
The Galaxy II were on the positive and negative end of last-minute equalizers this past week. That’s left their playoff hopes in the balance as they get ready to host Orange County SC.
17 Austin Bold FC
(4-3-7)
Week 15: @RGV, SA
1
Last Week:
16
Bold FC couldn’t convert from the penalty spot on Sunday night, and that means it’s got an uphill fight to claim a playoff place with Sunday’s final game of the season against San Antonio now looming large.
18 Indy Eleven
(7-5-2)
Week 15: SKC, @STL

Last Week:
18
Indy can get into the playoffs with a win against Sporting Kansas City II on Wednesday night. With just one win in its last five games, that would be an important confidence-booster as well.
19 North Carolina FC
(5-7-1)
Week 15: CLT
4
Last Week:
23
It’s not over yet for North Carolina FC after its win in Birmingham, but there’s absolutely no margin for error on Wednesday night.
20 Saint Louis FC
(6-5-4)
Week 15: IND
1
Last Week:
19
STLFC did pretty much everything but find the back of the net against LouCity on Saturday night. Unfortunately, its visitors did, and that’s big trouble for Saint Louis’ playoff chances.
21 Orange County SC
(6-5-3)
Week 15: @LA, @LV
1
Last Week:
20
Orange County last won back-to-back games as part of a four-game winning streak that ended on August 22. After losing four of its last five, it may need victory in its last two games to have a shot at the postseason.
22 New York Red Bulls II
(5-9-0)
Week 15: HFD
1
Last Week:
21
The Red Bulls II’s two games last week saw a combined 17 goals, so the entertainment value is there, even if the postseason won’t be.
23 Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC
(2-6-6)
Week 15: ELP, @TUL
1
Last Week:
22
It wouldn’t be a postseason berth but finishing above the Monarchs and on a four-game undefeated streak to end the season would be a good way for Colorado Springs’ campaign to end.
24 Memphis 901 FC
(3-7-4)
Week 15: BHM
3
Last Week:
27
Memphis finally turned the tables on the Charlotte Independence as Cal Jennings added to his lead as the club’s top scorer.
25 Sporting KC II
(4-9-1)
Week 15: @IND, @LOU
1
Last Week:
24
SKC II might have almost everyone outside Indianapolis rooting for it on Wednesday night, if only to give us a do-or-die game on the final weekend of the season.
26 Las Vegas Lights FC
(2-8-4)
Week 15: @RNO, OC
4
Last Week:
30
Lights FC again flashed the warning sign; underestimate us at your peril. Reno 1868 FC and Orange County should be on alert this week with both needing victories.
27 OKC Energy FC
(1-6-7)
Week 15: @TUL, @RGV
2
Last Week:
29
If you weren’t an Austin Bold FC fan and weren’t smiling when Cody Laurendi made that penalty save on Sunday in his 100th appearance for OKC, I don’t know what to yell you.
28 Tacoma Defiance
(3-9-2)
Week 15: SAC, RNO
3
Last Week:
31
Tacoma fell in Portland but rebounded to get the season series on Sunday afternoon back on home turf. Now it closes the season with meetings against the top two in the group.
29 Portland Timbers 2
(3-12-0)
Week 15: @SAC
4
Last Week:
25
T2 couldn’t complete its comeback to win the season series against the Defiance. The way the team has played overall of late has been entertaining, though.
30 Atlanta United 2
(3-9-3)
Week 15: @MIA
3
Last Week:
33
It might have been a barnburner against the New York Red Bulls II, but Atlanta came out on top and can finish third in Group H as a result.
31 The Miami FC
(2-8-4)
Week 15: CHS, ATL
5
Last Week:
26
Miami FC has to win its last game of the season to avoid finishing below Atlanta United 2. This year has not gone at all to plan in South Florida.
32 Real Monarchs SLC
(3-9-2)
Week 15: NM, ELP
4
Last Week:
28
Congrats to Bode Davis, Noah Powder and Andrew Brody on earning places with Real Salt Lake next season. It might be the only bright spot for the Monarchs this year.
33 Philadelphia Union II
(2-9-3)
Week 15: HFD, @PIT
1
Last Week:
32
The Union II had a man-advantage and still gave up another three goals to the Red Bulls II in their 5-4 defeat. Woof.
34 Loudoun United FC
(1-9-3)
Week 15: --

Last Week:
34
Loudoun’s season is done, and there’s going to be much reflecting to be done.
35 Rio Grande Valley FC
(0-9-3)
Week 15: ATX, OKC

Last Week:
35
The Toros look like they’ll be back in action on Wednesday. Can they find that elusive first win of 2020? It would really shake up the playoff race if they beat Austin.

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