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USL Championship Power Rankings – Week 2

By NICHOLAS MURRAY - nicholas.murray@uslsoccer.com, 07/06/20, 2:00PM EDT

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The season’s about to get back underway, but we’ve got some updates to share

TAMPA, Fla. – Welcome back to the Championship’s Power Rankings! Much has changed since our last meeting, including a new regionalized format, rule alterations and health and wellness guidelines.

One thing has not changed, however, a race between 35 clubs across the USL Championship landscape to see who will claim the USL Championship Final.

As the season picks back up on Saturday, here’s where one person sees things. As always, feel free to come and yell at me on Twitter if you’d like (@NJEMurray).

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

Biggest Movers

Rank

 

Team

Change

Summary

1 Phoenix Rising FC
(1-0-0)
Week 3: LA

Last Week:
1
Whatever format we’re playing under, Rising FC gets back underway as the prohibitive favorite to claim it all.
2 Louisville City FC
(1-0-0)
Week 3: PIT

Last Week:
2
All of us can’t wait to see Lynn Family Stadium open on Sunday evening on ESPN2. It should be a cracking game against Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC as well.
3 Indy Eleven
(1-0-0)
Week 3: STL

Last Week:
3
Some will disagree, but Saturday’s meeting between Indy and Saint Louis FC feels like the biggest on-field game of the resumption. Every point’s going to matter in Group E.
4 Tampa Bay Rowdies
(1-0-0)
Week 3: ATL

Last Week:
4
The Rowdies return to Al Lang Stadium on Saturday night aiming to add to a good opening weekend win in New York. You would expect them to bring home all three points vs. Atlanta.
5 Reno 1868 FC
(1-0-0)
Week 3: --

Last Week:
5
Reno looks like it’ll be in a duel for group supremacy with Donner Pass Derby rival Sacramento Republic FC, which only adds to the pressure both sides will feel in those four contests.
6 Orange County SC
(0-0-1)
Week 3: --
1
Last Week:
7
Orange County pulled off the biggest move of the season suspension on Friday with the acquisition on loan of Chandler Hoffman from Birmingham. That’s worth a one-position bump.
7 Sacramento Republic FC
(0-0-1)
Week 3: --
1
Last Week:
6
Republic FC resumes two points back of Reno for top spot in Group A. It’ll want a statement performance on Monday night against Tacoma Defiance to get things back underway.
8 Austin Bold FC
(1-0-0)
Week 3: --

Last Week:
8
Austin will be very happy to have bagged three points in its opener, and after its performance in the Copa Tejas last season, it should be feeling good about the number of rivalry games it’s going to face in Group D.
9 San Antonio FC
(1-0-0)
Week 3: --
1
Last Week:
10
If there’s anyone that benefited from the season suspension, it looks to have been Cristian Parano. Sidelined before the season, the Championships 2019’s Young Player of the Year is back and ready to go.
10 Saint Louis FC
(1-0-0)
Week 3: @IND
1
Last Week:
9
Saint Louis looked strong in its opening game of the season against Miami FC. They’ll need a lot more of those if they’re going to find a way past Indy Eleven and LouCity and into the playoffs.
11 Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC
(0-0-0)
Week 3: @LOU
3
Last Week:
14
The Hounds will have been very pleased with their draw into Group F, and their stellar historic record in Louisville (3-1-1) means they’ve got a real chance to spoil the party on Sunday.
12 New Mexico United
(0-1-0)
Week 3: @COS
1
Last Week:
11
With the shortened season, New Mexico is going to need to pick up points in Colorado Springs on Saturday, otherwise that’s a healthy gap that will already have opened between the two teams in Group C.
13 Real Monarchs SLC
(0-1-0)
Week 3: SD
1
Last Week:
12
The Monarchs are 38-6-10 at home since the start of the 2017 season. They’re going to need that mojo on Saturday afternoon against SD Loyal.
14 El Paso Locomotive FC
(0-0-1)
Week 3: RGV
1
Last Week:
13
Locomotive FC gets Rio Grande Valley FC at home to resume the season. A tough game in a tough group.
15 North Carolina FC
(0-1-0)
Week 3: --
1
Last Week:
16
There isn’t what you might consider a low-pressure game in NCFC’s schedule until its finale – and even then, Loudoun United could be trouble. At least it’s typically done well on the road against the Rowdies over the past two years.
16 Birmingham Legion FC
(0-0-0)
Week 3: --
1
Last Week:
17
Legion FC doesn’t have Chandler Hoffman for the remainder of 2020 after his loan to Orange County, but Neco Brett is more than capable of leading the pace in attack.
17 San Diego Loyal SC
(1-0-1)
Week 3: @SLC
4
Last Week:
21
The good news for SD Loyal is it’s on top of Group B to resume the season. The bad news is it’s got to get past Phoenix and Orange County for a playoff spot. Will they be up for the challenge?
18 Charleston Battery
(1-0-0)
Week 3: --

Last Week:
18
The Battery’s record of reaching the playoffs in every season is going to get put under pressure in a group with Tampa Bay and Miami, but it would take a brave person to bet against them.
19 The Miami FC
(0-1-0)
Week 3: --
4
Last Week:
15
Miami got placed in a group with an Eastern Conference favorite (Tampa Bay) and a team that doesn’t miss the playoffs (Charleston) in Group H. That home opener against Charlotte on July 22 is going to have some pressure hanging over it.
20 LA Galaxy II
(1-0-0)
Week 3: @PHX

Last Week:
20
Los Dos looks spectacular in its opening against Rio Grande Valley FC. It’s going to need to be when it visits Phoenix on Saturday to take something from the contest.
21 Charlotte Independence
(1-0-0)
Week 3: --
1
Last Week:
22
The Independence got the win in the opening weekend thanks to Brandon Miller’s heroics. They’re going to have to end North Carolina’s dominance over them to have a playoff shot, though.
22 FC Tulsa
(0-0-1)
Week 3: --
1
Last Week:
23
Tulsa’s social media game since the group reveal has been on-point. Now we’ll get to see if the team can back it up on the field, starting with Monday night’s Black Gold Derby on ESPN2.
23 Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC
(1-0-0)
Week 3: NM
1
Last Week:
24
The Switchbacks are the only team with a win in Group C as we resume. If they can add another three points against New Mexico on Saturday, it’s going to make this group even more interesting.
24 Hartford Athletic
(0-0-0)
Week 3: --
2
Last Week:
26
We haven’t seen Head Coach Radhi Jaidi’s squad on the field yet, but all of the noises coming out of Hartford are positive. Their opener against the Red Bulls II is going to be a must-see.
25 New York Red Bulls II
(0-1-0)
Week 3: --

Last Week:
25
The system has always been key to the Red Bulls II’s success and this year is no different. Expect another playoff appearance.
26 Las Vegas Lights FC
(0-0-1)
Week 3: --
7
Last Week:
19
There was plenty to like about Las Vegas’ season opener in San Diego, but now we’re going to have to wait and see what this squad looks like under its new Head Coach.
27 Sporting KC II
(0-1-0)
Week 3: --

Last Week:
27
Sporting II must be cursing its geographical location after getting put into a group with three of the better-looking teams in the East, but this side can make life interesting for the rest of Group E.
28 OKC Energy FC
(0-1-0)
Week 3: --

Last Week:
28
There would be no better feeling for Head Coach John Pascarella to pick up his first win at Energy FC with victory in the Black Gold Derby on Monday night. As tough as Group D is looking, it might also be an early must-win.
29 Memphis 901 FC
(0-1-0)
Week 3: --

Last Week:
29
Memphis got pulled apart defensively against Indy, no doubt, and they’re going to need to avoid allowing Neco Brett (BHM), Dane Kelly (CLT) and Hadji Barry (NC) from doing the same.
30 Loudoun United FC
(0-0-1)
Week 3: --

Last Week:
30
Every team in Group F will feel like it has a shot at the playoffs given how many question marks there are about each squad outside Riverhounds SC. That should bring optimism for United.
31 Rio Grande Valley FC
(0-1-0)
Week 3: @ELP

Last Week:
31
The Toros are 12-12-9 all-time against their fellow Group D members, but are going to need to rise to meet the rivalries consistently to have a chance at a playoff spot this season.
32 Philadelphia Union II
(0-0-1)
Week 3: --
1
Last Week:
33
Just like Loudoun, the playoff prospects for the Union II got a bump simply because of their group draw. I’ll say it again, though, they’re going to need to be sharper in front of goal.
33 Atlanta United 2
(0-1-0)
Week 3: @TBR
1
Last Week:
34
Atlanta not only already has a defeat to Charleston on the books, but aside for 11 tough Group H game remaining also gets Birmingham and Memphis in non-group games. Not a recipe for a playoff spot.
34 Portland Timbers 2
(0-1-0)
Week 3: --
1
Last Week:
35
T2 got off to a rough start in Phoenix. The only thing rougher? Knowing that when the season resumes, you’re going to have to finish above either 1868 FC or Republic FC to get into the playoffs.
35 Tacoma Defiance
(0-2-0)
Week 3: --
3
Last Week:
32
Two games, two defeats for the Defiance, and the road to the playoffs goes through Sacramento and Reno. Good luck with that.

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