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USL Championship Power Rankings – Preseason

By USLChampionship.com Staff, 03/02/20, 12:00PM EST

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Where does your team sit in a completely arbitrary list created before a ball’s been kicked?

TAMPA, Fla. – You’ve seen the fivethirtyeight.com preseason USL Championship projections, right?

All kinds of numbers placed into a clever algorithm that provides us a crystal ball into what might happen this season.

Well, what if instead of that we just went with what our gut told us we thought of every team in the league?

And so, welcome back to the USLChampionship.com Power Rankings. I’m your host, you can come and yell at me on Twitter if you’d like (@NJEMurray), but here’s what I think we’ve learned so far from the offseason and preseason.

Atlanta United 2 Austin Bold FC Birmingham Legion FC Charleston Battery Charlotte Independence Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC El Paso Locomotive FC
Hartford Athletic Indy Eleven LA Galaxy II Las Vegas Lights FC Loudoun United FC Louisville City FC Memphis 901 FC
The Miami FC New Mexico United New York Red Bulls II North Carolina FC OKC Energy FC Orange County SC Philadelphia Union II
Phoenix Rising FC Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC Portland Timbers 2 Real Monarchs SLC Reno 1868 FC Rio Grande Valley FC Sacramento Republic FC
Saint Louis FC San Antonio FC San Diego Loyal SC Sporting KC II Tacoma Defiance Tampa Bay Rowdies FC Tulsa

Rank

 

Team

Change

Summary

1 Phoenix Rising FC
(0-0-0)
Week 1: POR

2019:
Lost in Conf. Semifinals
They’re not the defending champions, but Head Coach Rick Schantz’s side looks loaded again and has three preseason wins against Major League Soccer squads to show for it.
2 Louisville City FC
(0-0-0)
Week 1: @NC

2019:
Lost in USL Championship Final
The reinforcements look good, as did the results at the Wasatch Winter Cup. Cameron Lancaster picking up where he left off in 2018 is also a big plus.
3 Indy Eleven
(0-0-0)
Week 1: @MEM

2019:
Lost in Conf. Finals
The majority of the squad that was so close to a place in the USL Championship Final is back, and preseason has seemed to go well so far.
4 Orange County SC
(0-0-0)
Week 1: ELP

2019:
Lost in Conf. Quarterfinals
Orange County on paper has quality in all the positions you need it to succeed, and it certainly feels like a rebound toward the top of the West is possible.
5 Tampa Bay Rowdies
(0-0-0)
Week 1: @NY

2019:
Lost in Conf. Quarterfinals
The squad isn’t as extensive as in years past, but this year the Rowdies appear to have quality over quantity and that bodes well for a strong season.
6 Sacramento Republic FC
(0-0-0)
Week 1: TUL

2019:
Lost in Conf. Semifinals
Winning preseason scrimmages on back-to-back days this past weekend with two completely different lineups says this squad’s depth is in great shape.
7 Reno 1868 FC
(0-0-0)
Week 1: @TAC

2019:
Lost in Conf. Quarterfinals
The highest-scoring side over the past three regular seasons is looking ready for another surplus of goals this season, and that means plenty of victories as well.
8 Real Monarchs SLC
(0-0-0)
Week 1: @SA

2019:
USL Championship Title-Winners
One goal in three games at the Wasatch Winter Cup wasn’t a great sign, but we’ll reserve judgement on the defending champion until we see their complete lineup.
9 The Miami FC
(0-0-0)
Week 1: @STL

2019:
N/A
The quality of players acquired by Miami this offseason is going to make the side dangerous this season. The question is how quickly can it hit the ground running?
10 New Mexico United
(0-0-0)
Week 1: @ATX

2019:
Lost in Play-In Round
Two big pieces moved on, but preseason wins against El Paso Locomotive FC and OKC Energy FC are a good place to start Year 2 for Head Coach Troy Lesesne.
11 Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC
(0-0-0)
Week 1: --

2019:
Lost in Conf. Semifinals
The rebuild after offseason departures is a work-in-progress so far this preseason if results are to be believed, but Head Coach Bob Lilley’s sides always find a way.
12 Austin Bold FC
(0-0-0)
Week 1: NM

2019:
Lost in Conf. Quarterfinals
The experience in the squad is a net plus, even if that makes Bold FC the oldest group in the Championship. The club’s opener vs. New Mexico is one of Week 1’s must-sees.
13 North Carolina FC
(0-0-0)
Week 1: LOU

2019:
Lost in Play-In Round
NCFC was in the middle between the true contenders in the East last season and those fighting for a playoff spot. Can it make itself part of the former this season?
14 El Paso Locomotive FC
(0-0-0)
Week 1: @OC

2019:
Lost in Conf. Finals
With Head Coach Mark Lowry at the helm, El Paso will be great to watch this season, but with Kiesewetter and Velasquez departed, where are the goals coming from?
15 San Antonio FC
(0-0-0)
Week 1: SLC

2019:
11th in West
If nothing else, San Antonio looks like it’s going to be entertaining to watch this season under new Head Coach Alen Marcina. Does that mean it’s going to get the necessary wins to be a playoff side, though?
16 San Diego Loyal SC
(0-0-0)
Week 1: LV

2019:
N/A
SD Loyal looks like it’s checking all the boxes when it comes to a solid playing structure, and the club’s home opener against Las Vegas gives it a chance to make a statement.
17 Birmingham Legion FC
(0-0-0)
Week 1: --

2019:
Lost in Conf. Quarterfinals
A lack of goals last season was Legion FC’s Achilles’ heel. This preseason it looks like Neco Brett’s arrival has helped rectify that, which should make for a good campaign.
18 Saint Louis FC
(0-0-0)
Week 1: MIA

2019:
11th in East
The squad seems improved, especially with the return of Wal Fall, and that means a second trip to the playoffs should be a minimum goal for STLFC this season.
19 FC Tulsa
(0-0-0)
Week 1: @SAC

2019:
16th in West
Things look like they’re clicking into place the way the club’s new leadership envisioned, and they’re going to be dangerous early if Dario Suarez can carry his scoring form into the regular season.
20 Charlotte Independence
(0-0-0)
Week 1: @SKC

2019:
13th in East
The Independence produced two positive streaks last season that showed the potential the side had. This year it should play up to its potential more consistently.
21 Charleston Battery
(0-0-0)
Week 1: @ATL

2019:
Lost in Conf. Quarterfinals
The Battery went through one of the strangest seasons in their history last year, but with a new look and new ownership looking to rejuvenate the club, the playoffs should be in sight again.
22 New York Red Bulls II
(0-0-0)
Week 1: TBR

2019:
Lost in Conf. Quarterfinals
There has been a lot of change this offseason, and the home opener against the Tampa Bay Rowdies is going to be a fascinating look into how this season may go.
23 LA Galaxy II
(0-0-0)
Week 1: @RGV

2019:
Lost in Play-In Round
Los Dos became a much tougher proposition after Junior Gonzalez took over midseason. Can they carry that momentum forward and become a serious contender?
24 Memphis 901 FC
(0-0-0)
Week 1: IND

2019:
15th in East
Sporting Director Tim Howard has brought in plenty of new leadership thanks to players like Michael Reed and Zach Carroll, will it be enough to take something from this week’s opener against Indy Eleven?
25 OKC Energy FC
(0-0-0)
Week 1: COS

2019:
15th in West
There’s always a risk reading too much into results in preseason, but Energy FC isn’t inspiring confidence that the defensive issues from a season ago have been solved yet.
26 Portland Timbers 2
(0-0-0)
Week 1: @PHX

2019:
14th in West
If you wanted entertainment, T2 games were the place to be last season. To make the playoffs, though, Portland is going to have to cut down on the number of goals it leaks.
27 Rio Grande Valley FC
(0-0-0)
Week 1: LA

2019:
12th in West
Rio Grande Valley put together back-to-back wins just once over its opening 29 games of the campaign, only to accomplish the feat twice over its final five games of the regular season. The Toros may have fallen a little bit short, but this October run should build some confidence heading into 2020.
28 Loudoun United FC
(0-0-0)
Week 1: @PHI

2019:
12th in East
Loudoun is going to have to weather another early-season road trip if it’s going to keep up with the playoff race, but this should be a side that takes a positive step forward overall.
29 Hartford Athletic
(0-0-0)
Week 1: --

2019:
17th in East
Ever Guzman’s here to provide the goals, will he and the other new arrivals make a big enough impact under new Head Coach Radhi Jaidi to get into playoff contention?
30 Las Vegas Lights FC
(0-0-0)
Week 1: @SD

2019:
13th in West
There are some potential impact new arrivals at Cashman Field this season, but we’re in wait-and-see mode until we get a complete look at Head Coach Eric Wynalda’s squad.
31 Tacoma Defiance
(0-0-0)
Week 1: RNO

2019:
17th in West
The Defiance are in the same boat as the Toros, coming into 2019 off a positive end to last season. Reno 1868 FC will be a big test in their home opener.
32 Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC
(0-0-0)
Week 1: @OKC

2019:
18th in West
There’s been plenty of change at the Switchbacks this offseason, but no wins and no goals at the Wasatch Winter Cup is a red flag.
33 Sporting KC II
(0-0-0)
Week 1: CLT

2019:
18th in East
There’s some strong young talent here, but it still feels like it’s going to be an uphill climb for SKC II to regain its playoff mojo even with Christian Duke back to lead the way.
34 Atlanta United 2
(0-0-0)
Week 1: CHS

2019:
14th in East
Atlanta could have high entertainment value this season, but it’s still going to be way off the pace if it doesn’t improve a defense that conceded an average of 2.26 goals per game last year.
35 Philadelphia Union II
(0-0-0)
Week 1: LDN

2019:
16th in East
Low-key announcing a new Head Coach less than a month before the new season kicks off doesn’t inspire confidence that U2 is going to have an edge this season, even with the talents of players like Jamoi Topey to serve as centerpieces.

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