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USL Power Rankings – Week 9

By NICHOLAS MURRAY -, 05/23/16, 7:31PM EDT


WFC2 holds steady at top after weekend that brought surprises in Eastern Conference

Photo courtesy Craig Mitchelldyer / Portland Timbers 2

It shouldn’t come as a surprise that Vancouver Whitecaps FC 2 holds steady at the top of the USL Power Rankings this week, but there was enough in results elsewhere around the league to see some teams make moves up with the regular-season one third done.

Take, for example, the Charleston Battery, who notched a second consecutive shutout victory after looking a little bit fragile defensively a couple of weeks ago. Ahead of a visit from Louisville on Saturday that should challenge their two-year-old home undefeated streak, the Battery were definitely beneficiaries of others’ missteps this weekend.

Then, there are questions for teams like OKC Energy FC, whose position in the standings has come about in part due to postponement, and having drawn more than half of its games. Is Jimmy Nielsen’s side, which has lost only once, a Top 10 team right now? Not quite, but an interesting two-game week should give us more answers this time next week.

Here’s the new Top 10.

1. Vancouver Whitecaps FC 2 (Previous: 1)
Last Week: W 3-1 at Portland Timbers 2
Kyle Greig reached a landmark on Friday night with the 30th goal of his USL career, as his first-minute goal set up WFC2 to continue their outstanding start to the season with a second win in Portland this year. Greig has been everything Vancouver hoped he would be when signed this offseason with eight goals in eight games, a strike rate that has even caught the attention of Whitecaps Coach Carl Robinson.

2. Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC (Previous: 3)
Last Week: W 3-1 at Arizona United SC
The Switchbacks continued to put pressure on WFC2 at the top of the Western Conference on Saturday night with another impressive performance that saw them take a victory in Arizona, and end United’s four-game undefeated run. Miguel Gonzalez’s first goal of the season was an absolute corker, and the hope for Coach Steve Trittschuh must be that his second-year forward will use the confidence he’ll have gained from that finish to help the side remain in contention for the conference lead.

3. Louisville City FC (Previous: 2)
Last Week: D 0-0 at Richmond Kickers
Louisville couldn’t find a way to solve a strong Richmond Kickers defense on Saturday night despite playing up a man for almost half-an-hour following Alex Lee’s red card for the hosts. Still, the side is now undefeated in nine games in the league, and will head to Charleston hopeful it can end the Battery’s remarkable home undefeated streak.

4. New York Red Bulls II (Previous: 7)
Last Week: W 1-0 at FC Montreal
The Red Bulls II have responded very well to their only loss of the season, and closed the gap on Louisville at the top of the Eastern Conference thanks to Junior Flemmings’ late winner on the road at Montreal. After letting valuable points slip away late last season in Quebec, the Red Bulls II will have been very pleased to run their road record to 4-0-0 so far this season this time around.

5. Charlotte Independence (Previous: 4)
Last Week: Postponed vs. FC Cincinnati
What looked like one of the must-see games of the weekend had to be postponed on Thursday evening, as poor playing conditions saw Charlotte’s game with FC Cincinnati rescheduled for August 31.

6. FC Cincinnati (Previous: 5)
Last Week: Postponed at Charlotte
On a good run of form, Cincinnati remains solidly positioned in the rankings after Saturday’s postponement, but will now be eager to return home to take on the Harrisburg City Islanders this Saturday at Nippert Stadium.

7. Sacramento Republic FC (Previous: 6)
Last Week: Bye
Sacramento had the week off as it welcomed the Liverpool FC U21s to Bonney Field, and carried on its solid recent attacking form in a 2-1 win. An interesting game against the Swope Park Rangers comes next.

8. Charleston Battery (Previous: NR)
Last Week: W 1-0 at Wilmington Hammerheads FC
The Battery are on a three-game winning streak after Saturday’s victory against Wilmington, in which the club’s defense looked back to its best after an iffy run of form that saw the side concede five goals in two games. Holding Louisville City FC without a shot on goal will be a big challenge for Coach Mike Anhaeuser’s side in one of the big games in Week 10, but the opportunity to run their home USL undefeated streak to 30 games will offer a big incentive on Saturday night.

9. LA Galaxy II (Previous: 8)
Last Week: D 1-1 at Seattle Sounders FC 2
The Galaxy II were able to stop the bleeding a little thanks to Dave Romney’s late equalizer in Seattle, and still sit solidly near the top of the Western Conference standings for the moment. The three teams below them, however, all have superior points-per-game averages, which will make getting back in the win column this weekend against Arizona imperative for Coach Curt Onalfo’s side if it wants to hold onto its current position.

10. Rio Grande Valley FC (Previously: NR)
Last Week: W 4-1 vs. Swope Park Rangers
The margin of victory might have flattered the Toros a little bit against the Rangers, but the manner in which Coach Wilmer Cabrera’s side is playing has been very impressive in recent weeks. Seven points from their last three games has given the side a lot of positive momentum as it goes into a big week with games on the road against San Antonio FC – on the USL Game of the Week on Wednesday night – and Saint Louis FC.

Best of the Rest: OKC Energy FC, Saint Louis FC, Richmond Kickers, Real Monarchs SLC, Rochester Rhinos