Nashville SC might not sit on top of the Eastern Conference after Week 8 of the regular season, but it's the current favorite to lift USL Cup in November according to FiveThirtyEight.com. | Photo courtesy John Wilkinson III / Nashville SC
It may currently sit in seventh place in the Eastern Conference standings, but with one quarter of the 2019 USL Championship regular season complete, Nashville SC is the current favorite to lift USL Cup at the end of the season according to FiveThirtyEight.com.
Nashville leads a cluster of four leading contenders in the site’s Club Soccer Predictions with an 11 percent chance to lift the silverware in November, with both Phoenix Rising FC and Indy Eleven coming in at 10 percent and the Tampa Bay Rowdies at nine percent after their respective starts to the season.
NSC’s projection is one of the few to have remained relatively unchanged from preseason, when Louisville City FC’s was at the top of the projected rankings. In fact, Nashville’s team rating has only shifted by one-tenth of a point to 32.1, putting it second behind Phoenix (32.2) in the SPI team ratings model.
The biggest movers in that category? Unsurprisingly it’s the teams that now sit in the top three positions in the Western Conference standings. Expansion side New Mexico United has been the biggest mover, having moved its rating up by 6.7 points to 23.5 going into Week 9’s action, while Tulsa Roughnecks FC (+6.1) and the Portland Timbers 2 (+5.7) also made significant moves. There is varying news for those clubs when it comes to playoff odds, however, with T2 sitting at 77 percent and NMU at 74 percent for postseason action, and the Roughnecks at only 27 percent as it currently stands.
The biggest mover in the Eastern Conference, meanwhile, is North Carolina FC, which has moved up 5.5 points to a 26.1 rating that has it projecting at 86 percent for a place in the USL Cup Playoffs. Both the Tampa Bay Rowdies (+3.9) and Indy Eleven (+3.3) have also made significant rises to put themselves into the upper echelon of USL Cup contenders.