skip navigation

USL Power Rankings – Week 23

By NICHOLAS MURRAY -, 08/29/16, 5:03PM EDT


Red Bulls II hold onto first, as race in the West remains tightly fought

Photo courtesy Sacramento Republic FC

At this point, the New York Red Bulls II look poised to cruise to their first silverware in the USL, and claim the 2016 regular season championship with time to spare. Five consecutive victories also keep the side at the top of the USL Power Rankings for a second consecutive week, as the road to the USL Championship appears poised to go through Red Bull Arena.

While things at the top of the Eastern Conference are looking pretty done and dusted, the Western Conference continues to add new twists and turns whenever one of the teams that could finish first takes to the field. From Colorado Springs’ victory against OKC to its defeat in Rio Grande Valley, to Sacramento edging out a now very vulnerable Orange County side before being held by Vancouver, the only thing that’s clear right now is the USL Western Conference Playoffs could throw up just as many thrills as a season ago.

The numbers, and momentum, appear to say that there are four teams that are the strongest contenders to take the top spot next month; OKC (58 max pts), Rio Grande Valley (57 max pts), Sacramento and Vancouver (both 56 max pts). With as much as home-field advantage can mean, it’s going to make for a fascinating run-in across the entire conference.

Here’s the new Top 10.

1. New York Red Bulls II (Previous: 1)
Last Week: W 1-0 at Toronto FC II; W 2-0 vs. FC Cincinnati
The Red Bulls II pulled six points clear at the top of the standings with two more victories last week, and pulled into sight of clinching the USL regular season title with seven points needed over their final five games of the season. The early red card certainly played a role against Cincinnati, but the Red Bulls II weren’t complacent with their advantage and took two wins in two games against a close rival in the standings for a second consecutive weekend.

2. Rio Grande Valley FC (Previous: 3)
Last Week: W 2-1 vs. Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC
The Toros continued to roll as their undefeated streak reached nine games, and their winning streak reached four games, to move into second place in the Western Conference with a game in hand on leader Sacramento. The team’s scoreless streak is over, but the side still looked impressive as it downed a good Colorado Springs side for a second consecutive occasion, opening up a path to first place in the process.

3. Sacramento Republic FC (Previous: 2)
Last Week: W 1-0 at Orange County Blues FC, D 0-0 vs. Vancouver Whitecaps FC 2
Republic FC remained on top of the Western Conference, but after finding a spark of genius from Cameron Iwasa to take a victory against Orange County in midweek, Sacramento was stifled on Saturday by a resolute performance from Vancouver. Republic FC could have taken a victory, certainly, but the fact that it didn’t has given an opening to the Toros to claim the top spot.

4. Richmond Kickers (Previous: 4)
Last Week: W 1-0 vs. Orlando City B
The Kickers claimed their postseason berth on Saturday night thanks to Scott Thomsen’s first professional goal as they edged out Orlando to move at least temporarily into third place in the Eastern Conference. Richmond’s nine-game undefeated streak will be tested this week as it hosts Charleston for the rescheduled clash between the teams earlier this month, but everything appears to be moving smoothly for Leigh Cowlishaw’s side for now.

5. Louisville City FC (Previous: 7)
Last Week: W 1-0 vs. Bethlehem Steel FC
Guy Abend’s goal gave Louisville a much-needed home victory against the Steel, and with Cincinnati taking only one point from its two games over the week City is back in line to claim second place should it match its rivals’ results down the stretch. Up next is a visit to Montreal, which Louisville defeated in the last meeting between the teams, but with FCMTL now on a four-game winning streak, it can’t be overlooked as a certain three points.

6. San Antonio FC (Previous: 9)
Last Week: W 2-0 at Saint Louis FC
San Antonio’s third consecutive victory, thanks in part to a remarkable performance by goalkeeper Matt Cardone, not only gave the side a win on the road against one of its rivals for the final Western playoff positions; it also created a small bit of breathing space for the side as it faces another big week. A trip to Swope Park, which sits a point back in the West, and a home game against Arizona, which gets a midweek test of its own from the LA Galaxy II, could prove pivotal at the end of the season.

7. FC Cincinnati (Previous: 5)
Last Week: D 1-1 vs. Rochester Rhinos; L 2-0 at New York Red Bulls II
Cincinnati will probably be a little disappointed not to have taken more than one point from its two games this week, but the side has still clinched a place in the postseason, and certainly didn’t appear to have much luck on its side against a very strong Red Bulls II side. The chance to bounce back is immediate on Wednesday night in Charlotte with the Queen City Cup on the line, and with games in hand on both Louisville and Richmond, the side will want to put the pressure on as it shoots for a top-two finish.

8. Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC (Previous: 8)
Last Week: W 2-0 vs. OKC Energy FC; L 2-1 at Rio Grande Valley FC
It was one step forward, one step back for the Switchbacks this week as a good victory against Energy FC was followed by a loss to the Toros that might end the side’s hopes of a top-two finish at the end of the season. The Switchbacks get a clash with the LA Galaxy II on Saturday, and with the chance still there to claim home-field advantage for the quarterfinals, three points is a must.

9. Real Monarchs SLC (Last Week: NR)
Last Week: W 1-0 at Arizona United SC
The Monarchs have won three games in a row to sneak their way within two points of both Orange County and San Antonio FC in the seventh and eighth playoff berths, and could find a way into the postseason if things fall right this week. Real would probably like to see a draw between San Antonio and Swope Park on Wednesday night before it gets the chance to take on a Tulsa side that was eliminated from playoff contention this past Saturday.

10. Rochester Rhinos (Last Week: 10)
Last Week: D 1-1 at FC Cincinnati; D 2-2 at Wilmington Hammerheads FC
The Rhinos just hold onto their place with a pair of comeback draws over the past week, although the one at Cincinnati looks a little more impressive than a visit to Wilmington that almost ended in defeat if not for Wal Fall’s stoppage-time equalizer. Saturday’s game with Charleston should be a very interesting one, with multiple interested parties outside MUSC Health Stadium keeping an eye on the playoff contenders.

Best of the Rest: OKC Energy FC, Charlotte Independence, FC Montreal, Vancouver Whitecaps FC 2, Charleston Battery

Follow the USL Championship

Most Recent News

Most Read News

Latest Videos