Photo courtesy of Richmond Kickers
The Richmond Kickers have not only matched their best winning streak in the club’s USL history, but they’re doing something that hasn’t been seen often over the six seasons of the league’s history.
While undefeated streaks are usually the measure to see how a team is performing, the ability to grind out win after win is a feat that can entirely transform a season. Look back to last season, and Rochester’s remarkable one-loss feat, and while it’s remarkably impressive, the longest winning streak the Rhinos were able to put together was four.
In fact, this six-game winning streak for the Kickers matches the one put together by Sacramento Republic FC in 2014, as it surged up the standings to finish second in the regular season, and then went on to claim the USL Championship in its inaugural season.
Will we see something similar from the Kickers at the end of this season? Time will tell, but the positive momentum they’re carrying into an almost-certain playoff berth at this point is undeniable.
Here’s the new Top 10.
1. Richmond Kickers (Previous: 3)
Last Week: W 1-0 at Rochester Rhinos; W 2-1 at FC Montreal
The Kickers matched their best winning streak in the USL with Saturday’s victory against FC Montreal, as Yudai Imura had another standout week with two game-winning goals to make it six wins in a row for the Kickers. Up next is a return to City Stadium, and what might be the biggest game of the upcoming week with the visit of FC Cincinnati.
2. FC Cincinnati (Previous: 4)
Last Week: W 2-0 at FC Montreal
A nice solid road win that could have come by a wider margin pushed Cincinnati firmly into the conversation for top spot as it kept pace with Louisville and New York over the past seven days. The visit to Richmond – after the Kickers’ last-minute equalizer at Nipper Stadium earlier this season – will have big implications for both teams as they enter the final stretch of the season.
3. Seattle Sounders FC 2 (Previous: 10)
Last Week: W 4-1 vs. Real Monarchs SLC; D 1-1 at Vancouver Whitecaps FC 2
S2’s big win against the Monarchs, and subsequent draw with current conference leader WFC2, has pushed the side to the verge of the playoff positions. With momentum suddenly proving important, Seattle’s five-game undefeated streak will look to carry the side onward and upward, but will get tested by Rio Grande Valley FC this Saturday.
4. Orlando City B (Previous: NR)
Last Week: W 2-1 vs. Toronto FC II
Orlando was difficult to place after four consecutive draws made its undefeated streak seem a little bit tame, but back-to-back stoppage-time wins have put OCB firmly ahead of the chasing pack in the Eastern Conference for the final playoff berth. Coach Anthony Pulis’ side will want to keep its momentum, but right now it looks like a side that no-one is going to want to face anytime soon.
5. Sacramento Republic FC (Previous: NR)
Last Week: W 1-0 at OKC Energy FC; D 1-1 vs. San Antonio FC
Sacramento finally put its bad run behind it, and put in two strong performances this week to regain its top-three position in the Western Conference. Republic FC’s determination late in games makes them a difficult side to put away, and they remain in the hunt for the top spot when the end of the season comes around.
6. New York Red Bulls II (Previous: 7)
Last Week: W 5-0 at Harrisburg City Islanders
After two consecutive defeats, the Red Bulls II roared back to life on Tuesday night with their victory against Harrisburg, briefly taking first place in the Eastern Conference as a result. They still hold the edge over Louisville with a game in hand, but Friday night’s game with Orlando City B is now looking like an extremely interesting one given the visitors’ undefeated streak.
7. Louisville City FC (Previous: 8)
Last Week: W 2-1 at Pittsburgh Riverhounds
City needed a comeback win to get things back on track, and thanks to George Davis IV they regained first place on Friday night against the Pittsburgh Riverhounds. City has two home games this week, with one appearing on paper to be a much easier task with Harrisburg visiting on Wednesday prior to Rochester’s visit on Saturday. Getting a winning streak going would be big to keep the pressure on New York.
8. Charleston Battery (Previous: 2)
Last Week: D 1-1 vs. Charlotte Independence
The Battery were slightly fortunate to emerge with a draw against the Independence as they got outshot 14-5 on home turf, but extended their undefeated streak as a result. With nine games to go, though, the side needs to find more consistency in its play if it’s going to get the top-four position it seeks.
9. Swope Park Rangers (Previous: 9)
Last Week: D 1-1 at Saint Louis FC; ppd. at Tulsa Roughnecks FC
The Rangers emerged with a point from their visit to Saint Louis thanks to Diego Rubio’s first goal for the club, and with everything else that transpired around them it was good enough to maintain a place in the top eight of the Western Conference standings. The Rangers are now undefeated in four games, and will hit the road this weekend to take on Real Monarchs SLC.
10. Rio Grande Valley FC (Previous: NR)
Last Week: D 0-0 vs. OKC Energy FC
The Toros took the game to Energy FC on Saturday night, and were unfortunate not to be rewarded for it. While the side’s undefeated streak is now at five, four of those games are 0-0 draws, which says a lot about how well the team is being able to control the tempo of games and limit its opponents’ chances, but also says something about how profligate the side has been in front of goal.
Best of the Rest: Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC, Portland Timbers 2, Charlotte Independence, OKC Energy FC, LA Galaxy II