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ARLIA: One Number That Sums Up Your Club’s Season

By JOHN ARLIA - john.arlia@uslsoccer.com, 09/17/19, 5:00AM EDT

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Here’s what factors could make the difference down the stretch

With five weeks remaining in the 2019 USL Championship campaign, I decided to take a deep dive into our Opta database to find the numbers that best tell the story of each club’s season. Here’s what I came up with:

All numbers as of Monday, September 16

Eastern

1. New York Red Bulls II
New York Red Bulls II
32
You could easily be attracted by the staggering number of chances created (392) or shots (521) that both lead the league, but what makes this New York squad better than last year’s is its improved defensive resolve. It’s only halfway to its 2018 total of 64 goals conceded with just six games remaining.
4. Indy Eleven
Indy Eleven
5
That’s the number of goals conceded by Indy at Lucas Oil Stadium this season, with no more than one coming in a single game. That defensive stability at home has helped the Eleven accumulate an 11-0-4 record on its own turf and is tied with the 2015 Rochester Rhinos for the fewest home goals allowed in a regular season in league history.
3. Tampa Bay Rowdies
Tampa Bay Rowdies
+13
One of the key factors in Tampa Bay’s resurgence this season has been its consistent play away from Al Lang Stadium, where it has scored 25 goals and conceded 12 for a +13 goal differential on the road that ranks as the best in the East and just behind Phoenix Rising FC (+17) overall.
2. Nashville SC
Nashville SC
17
Where would Nashville be without 17 goals from Daniel Rios? The league’s second-leading scorer has tallied 12 more times than any of his teammates and is 10 goals clear of NSC’s 2018 top scorers of Lebo Moloto and Tucker Hume (seven each).
5. Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC
Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC
82
We had questions about the Hounds’ defense early this season when it conceded two goals in each of its opening three games, but Pittsburgh has held opponents to a league-low 82 shots on target this season or just over three per game. That should make Bob Lilley smile.
5. North Carolina FC
North Carolina FC
+20
North Carolina’s +18 goal differential, which is currently coming in handy to keep Louisville City out of the top six, has everything to do with its home form. In 14 contests at WakeMed Soccer Park this season, NCFC has scored 34 goals and conceded 14 for a +20 differential that ranks only behind Phoenix Rising FC and New York Red Bulls II on their home turf.
7. Louisville City FC
Louisville City FC
11.08
Louisville’s shot conversion rate of 11.08 percent is the lowest in the Eastern Conference. If only Cameron Lancaster or Ilija Ilic were still around to put away more of the 362 chances (second-most in the league) the side has created.
8. Ottawa Fury FC
Ottawa Fury FC
39
Ottawa’s goal total may not seem overwhelming, but Fury FC has already scored eight more goals than it did in 2018 and still has seven games to play. Nikola Popovic’s side could use to find some more down the stretch, though.
11. Saint Louis FC
Saint Louis FC
9
The number of points STLFC collected over 15 games during the summer months to put its playoff hopes in jeopardy. It’s also the number of points it collected over the span of seven days to end that run and begin a final push toward a second consecutive postseason berth.
9. Birmingham Legion FC
Birmingham Legion FC
624
If Birmingham is to reach the USL Championship Playoffs in its inaugural year, it will look back at its 624-minute shutout streak as the turning point. The impressive defensive run, which helped the side shoot up the standings, also ranks as the fourth-longest in league history.
10. Charleston Battery
Charleston Battery
8.04
The Battery haven’t been an offensive juggernaut for some time but their 8.04 chances created per game this season ranks fifth-worst in the league this season and could be problematic with a shot conversion rate that has dropped four percent from last season (17.15 to 13.11) and a defense that has already conceded more goals than it did last season.
15. Memphis 901 FC
Memphis 901 FC
44.4
That’s the percentage of games that 901 FC has failed to find the back of the net during its up-and-down inaugural season. Memphis has been relatively solid at the back, but just hasn’t found consistency up front no matter who is leading the line.
13. Bethlehem Steel FC
Bethlehem Steel FC
178
Steel FC is currently outside of the playoff places because of an offense that has created the fewest chances in the league with 178. It also ranks last in shots with 266, but slightly makes up for that with a top-ten shot conversion rate (18.36 percent).
12. Charlotte Independence
Charlotte Independence
26
The story of Charlotte’s season will be one of what could have been as the Independence have dropped a league-high 26 points from winning positions over the campaign. Earning just half of those would have the side currently in the playoff places.
14. Loudoun United FC
Loudoun United FC
0
That’s the number of times that Loudoun has been able to put together back-to-back victories in what has been an inconsistent inaugural season.
Atlanta United 2
Atlanta United 2
32
That’s the number of goals ATL UTD 2 has conceded at Fifth Third Bank Stadium so far this season through 14 games. Currently the most home goals conceded by a team in the Championship this campaign, it’s a big reason why the side isn’t in contention to make the playoffs.
17. Hartford Athletic
Hartford Athletic
5
Hartford’s defense has been the biggest issue of its inaugural season, conceding a league-high 69 goals, five of which got the decisive touch from its own players. Those five own goals are also the most in the league and equal the number of goals from its three leading scorers, Sebastian Dalgaard, Alex Dixon and Wojciech Wojcik.
18. Swope Park Rangers
Swope Park Rangers
4
The Rangers haven’t had a whole lot go right for them this campaign, but interestingly all four of their victories this season have been by a single goal yet have had different scores (4-3, 3-2, 2-1 and 1-0).

Western

Phoenix Rising FC
Phoenix Rising FC
20
Phoenix Rising FC leads the Championship in plenty of statistical categories – including goals (77) and clean sheets (14) – but overlooking the team’s active 20-game winning streak just felt wrong.
3. Reno 1868 FC
Reno 1868 FC
158
Reno has been one of the top sides in the West all season, but what stands out is its conference-leading 158 chances created away from home so far this campaign. While those have only turned into 25 goals for 1868 FC, making those chances in tough circumstances could come in handy down the road on potential playoff road trips to Fresno or Phoenix.
2. Fresno FC
Fresno FC
10
The reason the Foxes are challenging atop the Western Conference this season is their turnaround in road form, which has already seen the side earn 22 points this season away from Chukchansi Park. That’s a 10-point improvement on last year’s mark with three road trips still on Fresno’s schedule for the final stretch of the season.
10. Sacramento Republic FC
Sacramento Republic FC
58.3
That’s the percentage of goals that Thomas Enevoldsen has had a hand in since joining Republic FC in August. His five-goal, two-assist start over six games may be difficult to sustain, but the Dane will be the key to Sacramento putting together a postseason run.
7. Orange County SC
Orange County SC
23
Forwards Darwin Jones and Michael Seaton have netted seven times over Orange County’s current five-game winning streak and now account for exactly half of the side’s 46 goals this season.
6. Real Monarchs SLC
Real Monarchs SLC
69.74
The Monarchs have completed a league-high 69.74 percent of their passes ending in the final third this season, with playmakers Jack Blake and Maikel Chang recording over 250 such passes at more than a 70 percent accuracy rate to set up Douglas Martinez and others in front of goal.
Austin Bold FC
Austin Bold FC
17
Bold FC has the distinguished honor of hitting the woodwork a league-leading 17 times this season, 12 of which have come during home games. That could be a bit of bad luck the side looks back on with regret come season’s end.
New Mexico United
New Mexico United
64.7
Of New Mexico United’s 51 goals this season, 33 – or 64.7 percent – have come from the attacking trio of Kevaughn Frater, Santi Moar and Devon Sandoval. Those goals have tended to come in bunches as well, with each of the three recording at least one hat trick over the course of the campaign.
8. LA Galaxy II
LA Galaxy II
14
The Galaxy II are probably not the team that you would’ve picked to lead the league in headed goals, but here we are. Eight different players have found the back of the net with their noggin for Los Dos, including three each from Tomas Andres Hilliard-Arce and Augustine Williams.
11. San Antonio FC
San Antonio FC
52
52 percent of San Antonio FC’s goals this season have come from left-footed shots, making it the only team in the league to score a majority of its goals from that side. Guess that’s not too much of a surprise when you have the likes of Jack Barmby and Cristian Parano in your arsenal.
OKC Energy FC
OKC Energy FC
91
Cody Laurendi has been a consistent figure between the sticks for Energy FC this season – starting 28 of 29 games – and has made a league-high 91 stops to give OKC a chance at a playoff berth despite an inconsistent defense.
El Paso Locomotive FC
El Paso Locomotive FC
1224
El Paso leads the league in passes attempted (13,526), but just 1,224 (nine percent) have been tried in the final third of the field. In fact, El Paso has also attempted a league-high 8,070 passes inside their own half, more than 1,000 more than the next closest team (Swope Park Rangers, 6,821).
9. Portland Timbers 2
Portland Timbers 2
13
You probably though Phoenix would lead the league in penalties taken, but that honor goes to a Portland side that has earned a spot kick nearly every other game this season. The issue for T2 is that they’ve only converted seven of the 13 that they’ve won, which could come back to haunt them.
Las Vegas Lights FC
Las Vegas Lights FC
7
Lights FC has pulled off some impressive victories at Cashman Field this season to get itself in with a chance at reaching the postseason, but its seven points from 14 road games (1-9-2) is holding Eric Wynalda’s side back.
Rio Grande Valley FC
Rio Grande Valley FC
9
Rio Grande Valley has suffered 14 defeats this season – third most in the Western Conference – with nine of those coming by just a single goal margin. Turning some of those defeats into draws or wins next season could see RGVFC take a Fresno-like step forward.
16. Tulsa Roughnecks FC
Tulsa Roughnecks FC
10
That’s the number of points that Tulsa collected over its first four games that had us all thinking things might be different this season for the Roughnecks. Unfortunately, they’ve accumulated just 17 points from 24 games since.
17. Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC
Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC
8.64
Things have not gone well for the Switchbacks in front of goal this season, which can be evidenced by its shot conversion rate of 8.64 percent. That is not only the lowest in the league, but Colorado Springs is the only side currently in single digits.
Tacoma Defiance
Tacoma Defiance
-39
The Defiance have the league’s worst goal differential at -41, but almost all of it has been fueled by its form away from Cheney Stadium. Tacoma has scored just four times while conceding an astounding 43 goals in 14 road trips this season, which have unsurprisingly yielded just three points (0-11-3)

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