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USL Power Rankings – Week 7

By NICHOLAS MURRAY -, 05/09/16, 7:52PM EDT


Four-game winning streak pushes Independence to top of the list

Photo courtesy William Brown / Charlotte Independence

There’s only one undefeated team remaining in the USL, but after the Charlotte Independence took a fourth consecutive victory on Saturday night they took the top spot in the USL Power Rankings this week.

The Independence have made a big push up the standings through a combination of an attack that is coming together strongly, and a defense that has grown increasingly strong as the season has gone on. This week will test their mettle in the same way as it did for previous No. 1 the LA Galaxy II last week, and Saturday’s game with Rochester looks particularly appealing should Charlotte overcome North Carolina rival Wilmington Hammerheads on Tuesday night.

In the meantime, Vancouver Whitecaps FC 2 will settle for an undefeated record, and an equally appealing contest on Sunday when Los Dos come to Thunderbird Stadium.

Here’s the new Top 10.

1. Charlotte Independence (Previous: 2)
Last Week: W 1-0 vs. FC Montreal
The Independence move to the top of the list after accomplishing something no other team has yet this season with a four-game winning streak. After seeing a few leaks here and there early in the season, the team’s defense has tightened up strongly with back-to-back shutouts, and the attack continues to tick over nicely. Enzo Martinez’s three-game goal-scoring streak came to an end against FC Montreal, but he still provided the assist on Caleb Calvert’s game-winning goal to keep the club’s momentum going ahead of a busy week that sees the side visit Wilmington and Rochester.

2. Vancouver Whitecaps FC 2 (Previous: 4)
Last Week: W 3-2 vs. Tulsa Roughnecks FC
It could have been very tempting to put the side that is the last undefeated standing in the league at No. 1 this week, but it did take a late comeback for WFC2 to preserve that record and grab all three points against the Roughnecks last Wednesday. After seeing his side play from the front early in the season, Coach Alan Koch will want to make sure his side tightens up a bit defensively, especially with the LA Galaxy II coming to Thunderbird Stadium on Sunday.

3. Louisville City FC (Previous: 5)
Last Week: W 2-0 at Toronto FC II
Louisville got things back on course last Wednesday to cap its arduous stint of four games in 13 days on a high note with a win in Toronto. Top of the Eastern Conference, Louisville has received back-to-back good performances in goal from Greg Ranjitsingh as he deputized for Scott Goodwin, and now returns home to face Saint Louis FC as the battle for the King’s Cup is renewed at Slugger Field on Saturday.

4. LA Galaxy II (Previous: 1)
Last Week: W 3-2 vs. Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC; L 2-0 vs. Sacramento Republic FC
Los Dos slide a little this week after splitting a pair of games in the past week, and could be excused for a slight letdown on Saturday as it came off three games in eight days. After winning the prior two against what appears to be a solid Rio Grande Valley side, and a Colorado Springs team that rebounded in impressive fashion on Sunday at Orange County, Coach Curt Onalfo’s squad will enjoy a chance to rest a little before getting back into action against Vancouver on Sunday.

5. Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC (Previous: 3)
Last Week: L 3-2 at LA Galaxy II; W 3-0 at Orange County Blues FC
It was a mixed week for the Switchbacks, but they should feel positive after getting three points from their trip to California over the past seven days. While they dug themselves too deep a hole against the Galaxy II last Wednesday, the positive momentum of the late comeback definitely appeared to follow through against Orange County as they brought an abrupt end to the Blues’ good recent run of form.

6. New York Red Bulls II (Previous: 6)
Last Week: W 3-1 at Pittsburgh Riverhounds
After falling for the first time this season, and going behind early against the Riverhounds, the Red Bulls II made an ideal response to come back for victory in Pittsburgh on Saturday night. The attacking threat posed by the side was in full evidence, with Derrick Etienne Jr.’s goal to cap the performance a thing of beauty off Junior Flemmings’ cross, and now they’ll return home to Red Bull Arena on Saturday for what looks like a fascinating game with the resurgent Richmond Kickers.

7. Rochester Rhinos (Previous: 8)
Last Week: W 3-2 vs. Charleston Battery
At the end of the season, Friday night’s victory might prove the oddest the Rhinos record all year, but the fact they were able to pick up all three points with their attack instead of their defense does bode well for the side. You would certainly think Coach Bob Lilley will get things back on track at the back soon, and with the Charlotte Independence coming to Rhinos Stadium on Saturday, a marquee matchup is on the cards.

8. Saint Louis FC (Previous: NR)
Last Week: W 3-0 vs. Swope Park Rangers
Saint Louis put in arguably its best performance of the season on Saturday night to extend its undefeated streak to five games against the Swope Park Rangers. STLFC has also recorded three consecutive shutouts as it gets ready for the resumption of the King’s Cup rivalry with Louisville City FC this Saturday at Slugger Field, one of the must-see games of the upcoming week.

9. Richmond Kickers (Previous: 10)
Last Week: W 1-0 vs. Wilmington Hammerheads FC
The win wasn’t the prettiest, but the Kickers definitely appear to be back on track after their second consecutive 1-0 win. Richmond has always prided itself on being a difficult side to break down defensively, and while the side would definitely like to be playing with a little more flair in the attacking third, steadily accumulating victories will definitely do for now.

10. FC Cincinnati (Previous: NR)
Last Week: W 3-1 at Orlando City B; D 1-1 at Harrisburg City Islanders
Cincinnati returns to the Power Rankings after picking up a solid four points on the road this week, rallying back in both games against Orlando and Harrisburg. The side has rebuilt well to take a four-game undefeated streak after its loss to Louisville on April 16, and with a massive crowd expected for the visit of the Pittsburgh Riverhounds this weekend should aim to kick on further up the standings.

Best of the Rest – Portland Timbers 2, Bethlehem Steel FC, Rio Grande Valley FC, Sacramento Republic FC, Charleston Battery