Sometimes results dictate immediate movement in the USLSoccer.com Power Rankings. Such was the case for the Swope Park Rangers surge into second place in last week’s edition, with the team’s six-game winning streak putting it behind only Real Monarchs SLC in the rankings.
Other times, though, it can take an additional confluence of results to push a team up, even if the result it earned in the prior week wasn’t the most impressive of its recent form. It has proven so for the Charlotte Independence, who moved into the No. 3 position this week as its undefeated run reached eight games after a 1-1 draw last Tuesday night against the Harrisburg City Islanders.
Powered by a surge in form by Jorge Herrera, whose four-game goal-scoring streak continued against Harrisburg, the Independence are now in prime position to challenge regional rivals the Charleston Battery for the top spot in the Eastern Conference. The right pair of results on Wednesday night, in fact, could see the Independence jump into top spot with a win against the Richmond Kickers and a Battery loss to the Pittsburgh Riverhounds.
As compact as the top of the Eastern Conference is becoming, though, it might not take much for another shake-up to occur soon. Whether it’s of the immediate or delayed kind remains to be seen.
The five-person USLSoccer.com voting panel tabulates 10 points for first-place team votes, nine points to the second-place team and so forth to one point for 10th place. The accrued points among the group determines the final ranking.
Here’s your new Top 10.
1. Real Monarchs SLC (50pts)
Last Week: D 2-2 at San Antonio FC
The Monarchs almost got unseated on Saturday night by San Antonio FC, but Max Lachowecki’s late goal ensured the Western Conference leaders earned a point at Toyota Field and kept a decent gap between themselves and the chasing pack. A win in Real’s visit to struggling Rio Grande Valley FC would amp up the pressure, too, with return fixtures against the Swope Park Rangers and SAFC not too far away.
2. Swope Park Rangers (44pts)
Last Week: W 2-0 at Seattle Sounders FC 2
The Rangers completed their sweep through the Pacific Northwest, and earned second place in the Western Conference as a reward after their win in Seattle. Swope Park’s shutout streak is now at 471 minutes with the side having banked five consecutive shutouts, but that should be tested in one of the bigger games of Week 19 when former player Dane Kelly and Reno 1868 FC visit on Sunday.
Photo courtesy Nick Tre. Smith / Swope Park Rangers
3. Charlotte Independence (35pts)
Last Week: D 1-1 at Harrisburg City Islanders
The Independence couldn’t add to their six-game winning streak against the City Islanders but still took a solid point on the road against a side that’s been much improved of late. Returning home to face a Richmond Kickers side that is coming off a morale-boosting victory on Saturday could prove maybe more challenging than it initially appears on paper, but a win would open up the chance for the top spot even wider.
4. Louisville City FC (32pts)
Last Week: W 4-1 at Saint Louis FC
Each time Louisville has suffered defeat, it has responded strongly to immediately get back in the win column. Saturday’s emphatic second-half performance against Saint Louis continued that trend, and kept City in the thick of the race for first place in the Eastern Conference. A visit from a New York Red Bulls II side it defeated for the first time in its history on Saturday will see the side look for a season-sweep.
5. San Antonio FC (29pts)
Last Week: D 2-2 vs. Real Monarchs SLC
The voters let last week’s late draw with OKC Energy FC slide, but with San Antonio now four games without a win it’s taken a little slide down the rankings. SAFC’s intensity remains good, however, and should get back on track quickly if it can improve closing out leads late.
Photo courtesy Darren Abate / San Antonio FC
T-6. Charleston Battery (25pts)
Last Week: L 2-0 at Tampa Bay Rowdies
The Battery certainly looked threatening on Saturday against the Tampa Bay Rowdies, and an early goal would certainly have made things very interesting. Instead, though, the side has suffered back-to-back losses for the first time this season, and been shut out on both occasions. Some points from a visit to Pittsburgh would be very welcome on Wednesday night.
T-6. Sacramento Republic FC (25pts)
Last Week: W 2-0 vs. Seattle Sounders FC 2
Sacramento’s two weeks off could have seen some rust develop, but Republic FC looked sharp enough as it delivered its fourth victory in the past five games against Seattle Sounders FC 2 on Sunday night. There remains a gap to the top three for Sacramento to bridge, but as long as the side continues to chug along nicely, they’ll be solidly in the playoff picture, with the goal of hosting at least one postseason game the aim for now.
8. FC Cincinnati (12pts)
Last Week: W 3-0 vs. Harrisburg City Islanders
Cincinnati wasn’t at its most convincing early on against the Harrisburg City Islanders, but the first three-game winning streak in league action in FCC’s history has the side starting to live up to its preseason expectations. With other results falling the club’s way, the chance at a home playoff game that seemed out of reach not too long ago is starting to come into focus.
Photo courtesy Brett Hansbauer / FC Cincinnati
9. Tampa Bay Rowdies (10pts)
Last Week: W 2-0 vs. Charleston Battery
The Rowdies are starting to regain the form that made them so formidable at the start of the season, and are holding their place in the top four of the Eastern Conference as a result. Martin Paterson’s three goals in as many games are providing a new focal point for the attack, while Alex Morrell continues to be a livewire in the midfield.
10. Tulsa Roughnecks FC (7pts)
Last Week: W 3-0 vs. Phoenix Rising FC
The closeness between all of the teams in the middle of the Western Conference was highlighted by the Roughnecks’ mobility in the standings this week, which saw it briefly rise as high as fifth before Sacramento’s win on Sunday night. A big performance for a third win in the club’s last four games was a major boost against a Rising FC side Tulsa will be battling alongside for a playoff place down the stretch.
Also receiving votes – Reno 1868 FC 5, Bethlehem Steel FC 1