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USL Championship Power Rankings – Week 7

By NICHOLAS MURRAY - nicholas.murray@uslsoccer.com, 06/09/21, 2:00PM EDT

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El Paso moves into top spot after Rowdies finally fall and Phoenix needs late rally

Hello, and welcome to the latest edition of the Championship’s Power Rankings.

All good things must come to an end, and on Saturday it was closing time on the Tampa Bay Rowdies’ five-game winning streak to start the season against the Charlotte Independence.

That means a drop to No. 2 in this week’s Power Rankings behind one of the only two remaining undefeated teams in the league, and the one that is on an impressive run of form of its own.

Yes, El Paso Locomotive FC has only played four times this season after its 1-0 road win against Austin Bold FC last Thursday night, but the side currently sports the longest undefeated streak in the Championship as a whole across the regular season and playoffs dating back to the 2020 campaign.

Head Coach Mark Lowry’s side hasn’t suffered a defeat since it fell 3-1 on August 1, 2020 on the road against Phoenix Rising FC. Since then the side is undefeated in 18 games – last year’s penalty shootout loss to Rising FC in the Western Conference Final of the Championship Playoffs counts officially as a draw – and is rightly considered one of the candidates that could claim the USL Championship Final this season.

Wednesday night brings an intriguing challenger to Southwest University Park in the form of Indy Eleven, followed by a visit from Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC on Saturday to cap the week. By that point, Locomotive FC’s actual position in the Mountain Division could look similar to the position it holds here.

Here’s how the rest of the big picture looks today. As always, feel free to come and yell at me on Twitter (@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 Oakland Roots SC OKC Energy FC Orange County SC Phoenix Rising FC
Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC Real Monarchs SLC Rio Grande Valley FC Sacramento Republic 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 El Paso Locomotive FC
(2-0-2)
Week 8: v. IND, v. COS
2
Last Week:
3
Locomotive FC sits as the lone undefeated side in the Western Conference, and it’s there thanks to a stingy defense that has conceded only once in four games ahead of Wednesday’s clash with Indy Eleven.
2 Tampa Bay Rowdies
(5-1-0)
Week 8: v. LDN
1
Last Week:
1
The absence of Steevan Dos Santos was noticeable as the Rowdies hit the road, but Evan Louro’s play in goal still kept the side in with a shot of remaining undefeated in Charlotte after his shutout against the Red Bulls II.
3 Phoenix Rising FC
(4-1-1)
Week 8: v. TAC
1
Last Week:
2
All seemed lost for Phoenix on Saturday night until Arturo Rodriguez helped spark wave after wave of attack that finally pulled the hosts level thanks to Joey Calistri. The persistence of this side is something to behold.
4 Rio Grande Valley FC
(4-1-1)
Week 8: v. SLC
1
Last Week:
5
Sunday night was the 24th time a visiting team had scored four second-half goals away from home in the Championship’s history. The Toros look more than up for the challenge in the Mountain Division.
5 Hartford Athletic
(3-0-1)
Week 8: @ CLT
7
Last Week:
12
A seven-goal victory gets a seven-position rise in the standings – that’s what it says in my “Power Rankings for Dummies” book, anyway. The Athletic now sit as the lone undefeated in the Eastern Conference ahead of a big game with the Charlotte Independence.
6 New Mexico United
(3-2-1)
Week 8: @ SLC
2
Last Week:
8
It might have taken a little bit of good fortune to get that win against Real Monarchs SLC, but New Mexico might have been due for some of that anyway to keep their positive Utah mojo rolling.
7 Birmingham Legion FC
(4-2-1)
Week 8: @ OKC
3
Last Week:
10
Neco Brett might have a case as one of the more underrated goalscorers in the Championship, but he can reach 50 regular-season goals with his next tally after leading the side to victory against FC Tulsa on Sunday night.
8 San Antonio FC
(2-1-3)
Week 8: @ LV
1
Last Week:
7
The comeback to earn a point in Colorado Springs was solid, but now San Antonio’s going to be without Santiago Patino for some key games after his three-game suspension for Saturday’s red card.
9 Indy Eleven
(3-2-1)
Week 8: @ ELP
5
Last Week:
4
One point from home games against OKC Energy FC and Memphis 901 FC is not what the Boys in Blue were looking for last week and now they’ve got to hit the road to face an El Paso side that has been excellent so far this season. Tough assignment coming.
10 Louisville City FC
(2-2-1)
Week 8: v. MEM
4
Last Week:
6
Realistically, Louisville did enough to earn something from its visit to Atlanta United 2 on Sunday. When you run into a goalkeeper that has the sort of night Alec Kann did, though, you’re going to end up with little to show for it.
11 Orange County SC
(2-2-0)
Week 8: v. SD, v. OAK
5
Last Week:
16
So, maybe that performance against the Galaxy II was an aberration? The question for OCSC now is how its attack’s consistency might hold up with the club announcing Thomas Enevoldsen’s going to be out for eight weeks.
12 Charlotte Independence
(3-2-0)
Week 8: v. HFD
6
Last Week:
18
That was an impressive response to the club’s loss in Miami, handing Tampa Bay its first defeat of the season, but the Independence are going to want to take better advantage of the prime chances they were creating moving forward.
13 Atlanta United 2
(3-2-2)
Week 8: v. SKC
4
Last Week:
17
Yes, Atlanta took victory against Louisville and they’re up to second in the Central Division, but that was still a pretty fortunate result to pull off all things considered. Good way for new Head Coach Jack Collinson’s tenure to start, though.
14 LA Galaxy II
(3-2-2)
Week 8: @ SD
1
Last Week:
15
Los Dos got washed out in Charleston but still sit in a really good position in the Pacific Division ahead of their trip to San Diego Loyal SC on Saturday night.
15 FC Tulsa
(3-3-0)
Week 8: --
6
Last Week:
9
It might feel like last week was back to Square 1 for Tulsa, but there were some positive signs of life in the game against Birmingham that says better results are on the way as the side gets this week off.
16 The Miami FC
(3-3-0)
Week 8: @ PIT
5
Last Week:
11
Within the span of 90 minutes on Sunday against Rio Grande Valley FC, Miami showed how good it could be and how quickly it can fall apart. That was a missed chance to gain ground as the Rowdies suffered their first defeat.
17 Oakland Roots SC
(1-1-1)
Week 8: @ OC
1
Last Week:
18
Roots SC gave Sacramento everything it could handle in the first meeting between the clubs but had to hold on late for a point. Still, this looks like a very competitive squad for Head Coach Jordan Ferrell.
18 Tacoma Defiance
(2-1-1)
Week 8: @ PHX
4
Last Week:
14
The Defiance got put on their heels in Vegas and never seemed to get to grips with the game properly overall as their undefeated record melted away. The mark of a good side is how it responds and… [looks at schedule]… ah, away at Phoenix. Well, good luck.
19 Austin Bold FC
(2-2-1)
Week 8: @ NM
2
Last Week:
21
Austin scored its fastest goal in club history on Sunday against Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC, and then parked three buses, two bulldozers and a crane in front of their goal. Winning 1-0 with 26.4% possession is certainly a feat, I’ll grant you.
20 Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC
(2-3-1)
Week 8: v. MIA
2
Last Week:
22
The Hounds came through a bigger test than they might have expected in Loudoun only to once again come up blank on home turf on Sunday night. With the attacking promise this side has shown on the road, that’s got to change soon, right?
21 Sacramento Republic FC
(2-3-1)
Week 8: @ SLC
8
Last Week:
13
Four games without a win and three defeats in that span is Republic FC’s toughest run of form since 2018, the club has to be hoping a trip to face the similarly struggling Monarchs on Wednesday provides the cure.
22 Charleston Battery
(1-1-2)
Week 8: @ LDN(W), v. NY

Last Week:
22
A win’s a win, even if it was pretty hard work for the Battery on Tuesday night against Loudoun United FC. Now we’ll see if its leads to anything more as the club returns home for a third meeting with the Red Bulls II.
23 Sporting Kansas City II
(1-3-3)
Week 8: @ ATL
5
Last Week:
28
That attacking explosion against FC Tulsa might have been coming – SKC II’s Expected Goals mark of 8.49xG still outstrips its actual production. We’ll see what the side’s got as it visits Atlanta United 2 on Wednesday.
24 Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC
(1-2-1)
Week 8: @ ELP
1
Last Week:
25
The Switchbacks were so close to sealing a first win at Weidner Field against San Antonio before the visitors’ late equalizer – you can bet Zach Zandi’s replayed the chance that got blocked with the net wide open numerous times in his mind.
25 Memphis 901 FC
(1-1-2)
Week 8: @ LOU
2
Last Week:
27
Memphis might have caught a break on a goal line decision in Indy, but they were more than good value for their victory overall. Now we’ll see what 901 FC has as an encore as it wraps up its road trip in Louisville.
26 San Diego Loyal SC
(1-4-1)
Week 8: @ OC, v. LA

Last Week:
26
If you’d offered San Diego Loyal SC a point against Phoenix on Saturday before the game, it might have taken it, but the way it played out was a real heartbreaker. Still, onward and upward in Orange County on Wednesday night.
27 Loudoun United FC
(1-4-0)
Week 8: v. CHS(L), @ TBR
4
Last Week:
23
There’s a lot to like about the way Loudoun is conducting its on-field work right now, but it’s going to have to find a way to turn that into results instead of frustrating one-goal losses soon to get into the playoff picture.
28 Las Vegas Lights FC
(1-4-0)
Week 8: v. SA
3
Last Week:
31
It took the club’s first home game of the season, but Lights FC continues to progress and is starting to look like a much more dangerous side than the one that began the season just a month ago.
29 OKC Energy FC
(0-3-4)
Week 8: v. BHM

Last Week:
29
The departure of Head Coach John Pascarella after one win in 23 games overall was probably inevitable regardless of the side’s result against Indy Eleven, but that game showed Energy FC has something it can bring to the table this season.
30 New York Red Bulls II
(1-5-2)
Week 8: @ CHS
6
Last Week:
24
The Red Bulls II will point to the bad luck that saw it hit the woodwork multiple times in Hartford, but a seven-goal drubbing for a third consecutive defeat is just no good at all.
31 Real Monarchs SLC
(0-3-2)
Week 8: v. SAC, @ RGV
1
Last Week:
30
If the Monarchs didn’t have bad luck, they’d have no luck at all. With Las Vegas’ victory, they’re the last winless team in the Western Conference.

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