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USL Championship Power Rankings – Week 13

By Staff, 09/21/20, 5:00PM EDT


As playoff places as claimed, a few teams are building serious momentum for the drive to the title

TAMPA, Fla. – It’s not necessarily about how you start. It’s about how you finish.

As we reach the final two weeks of the Championship’s 2020 regular season, those words again seem to be ringing true.

After all, there’s a reason why Louisville City FC has been part of the USL Championship Final for three consecutive seasons. It’s because every year as the race for the playoffs intensifies, LouCity finds that next gear that carries it not only into the postseason field, but feeling ready to take on all-comers that stand in its way.

This year, though, LouCity has company in that regard. Just look at its fellow Eastern Conference contender Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC, which is now on a five-game winning streak and has a chance to close out the season with the best record in the conference. Or how about the Charleston Battery, undefeated in nine games overall and a winner in six of its last seven outings?

There are others out west as well. El Paso Locomotive FC has pulled off five wins on the spin after its back-to-back victories last week. Given its run during the playoffs a season ago, Locomotive FC might be the team to beat. Or maybe you’re thinking Reno 1868 FC, which has won six of its last seven games and scored 28 goals in the process to put itself in with a chance at the best record in the league?

And what about San Diego Loyal SC? It’s still going to be an uphill climb to get into the playoffs for Head Coach Landon Donovan’s men, but the potential is there for SD Loyal to make some noise if it can find its way past the LA Galaxy II and Orange County SC. If nothing else, San Diego’s late first-season run should set a platform for success moving forward.

Here’s where we stand overall this week. 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






1 Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC
Week 14: HFD

Last Week:
The Hounds left it late to take all three points against Loudoun United FC, but they’re still on course to finish with the best record in the Eastern Conference ahead of Hartford Athletic’s visit on Saturday.
2 Louisville City FC
Week 14: @STL

Last Week:
Two more convincing victories – including a third in a row against Indy Eleven – means it’s a question of when and not if LouCity will be part of the playoffs this season. Picking up Kenney Walker for midfield depth is also a nice roster deadline move.
3 El Paso Locomotive FC
Week 14: NM
Last Week:
Locomotive FC isn’t overwhelming anyone, they’re just cutting through teams with ruthless efficiency right now. Eight games undefeated and five wins in a row, the second of which is a club record, has Locomotive FC in line for top spot in Group C.
4 San Antonio FC
Week 14: @TUL
Last Week:
A good two-win week was the ideal response to the club’s first set-back of the season. Now it gets playoff contenders FC Tulsa and Austin Bold FC to wrap up the regular season, which should bring some intensity to prepare for the playoffs.
5 Reno 1868 FC
Week 14: SAC
Last Week:
1868 FC is looking locked into first place in Group A after its wins against Tacoma and Portland. If it gets victory against Republic FC on Saturday night, it will be in line for the best record in the regular season.
6 Charleston Battery
Week 14: LDN
Last Week:
The Battery keep finding ways to pull out quality goals and strong victories. They shouldn’t underestimate Loudoun United FC on Saturday, but it’s looking like Group H is going to be decided on the final weekend of the season.
7 Charlotte Independence
Week 14: MIA, MEM
Last Week:
Four consecutive wins mean the Independence are almost certainly going back to the playoffs. For a team that was dominated so thoroughly by North Carolina FC in previous years, this season’s turnaround in that rivalry has been dramatic.
8 San Diego Loyal SC
Week 14: @LA
Last Week:
SD Loyal doesn’t have control over its destiny in Group B, but can you imagine any team that wants to take on this squad with the momentum it’s building if it does find a way into the playoffs?
9 Tampa Bay Rowdies
Week 14: @MIA
Last Week:
The Rowdies needed a late winner to pick up an essential three points against Atlanta United 2 on Wednesday night, which keeps the showdown with Charleston on the final weekend of the season on course.
10 Phoenix Rising FC
Week 14: OC
Last Week:
Rising FC’s comeback bid against SD Loyal was admirable, but it paid the penalty for a very slow start. If the side is to achieve its aspirations for this season that can’t happen in the postseason.
11 Birmingham Legion FC
Week 14: NC
Last Week:
Legion FC’s response to its recent downturn in form was impressive against Miami. But the Independence can still pass Birmingham with a game in hand, meaning Legion FC is potentially going to need to win out to clinch first place.
12 Sacramento Republic FC
Week 14: @RNO
Last Week:
Sacramento has scored three goals in each of its three meetings with Tacoma Defiance this season. That it has won only one of those games is why Republic FC finds itself five points back of Reno 1868 FC in the standings.
13 New Mexico United
Week 14: @ELP
Last Week:
That loss to Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC on Saturday was a bit of a gut-punch for United. Now they’ve not only got to beat El Paso on Saturday night, but hope Locomotive FC slips up in one of its final two games to have a shot at first place.
14 LA Galaxy II
Week 14: SD, @LV
Last Week:
Los Dos found their shooting boots again to take victory against Las Vegas Lights FC in midweek, a result that kept the side in good position for a playoff berth. If it can take anything from its clash with SD Loyal on Wednesday, it would really boost its postseason chances further.
15 Hartford Athletic
Week 14: PHI, @PIT
Last Week:
Back-to-back wins have put the Athletic into the postseason. After another clash with the Philadelphia Union II on Wednesday, the real test arrives with a visit to Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC, which has won its two meetings with Hartford by a combined 8-0 scoreline this season.
16 Austin Bold FC
Week 14: SKC, @OKC
Last Week:
Austin has a big chance to get on track this week as it hosts Sporting Kansas City II on Tuesday night. It can’t fall into the same trap fellow Group D sides FC Tulsa and OKC Energy FC did when SKC II took victories against both.
17 FC Tulsa
Week 14: SA

Last Week:
Tulsa will be watching Austin Bold FC’s game closely on Tuesday night, but it’s got its biggest game of the season on Saturday when it plays host to San Antonio FC.
18 Indy Eleven
Week 14: STL
Last Week:
Indy’s third consecutive defeat to Louisville City FC – and Saint Louis FC’s late victory against SKC II – means Wednesday’s #INDvSTL game at Lucas Oil Stadium is going to be one of the games of the season. Getting victory after losing three of its last four – all to Louisville – would almost seal a playoff place for the Boys in Blue and give them a much-needed confidence boost.
19 Saint Louis FC
Week 14: @IND, LOU
Last Week:
Who else was it going to be but Sam Fink to grab victory from the jaws of a deflating draw on Saturday night? Saint Louis now goes into Wednesday’s clash with Indy Eleven with hope that the playoffs are there for the taking.
20 Orange County SC
Week 14: @PHX
Last Week:
OCSC won on Friday night against Las Vegas, but it didn’t feel that convincing a performance. With a trip to Phoenix Rising FC up next, the level is going to need to be much better.
21 New York Red Bulls II
Week 14: @ATL, PHI
Last Week:
The Red Bulls II can’t make the playoffs after their loss to Hartford Athletic in midweek and Hartford’s subsequent win against the Union II, which brings to an end their five-season streak of postseason play.
22 Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC
Week 14: SLC
Last Week:
The Switchbacks showed a lot of positives in taking victory against New Mexico United on Saturday as they begin to look forward to 2021 and the opening of their beautiful new downtown stadium.
23 North Carolina FC
Week 14: @MEM, @BHM
Last Week:
NCFC has swung between looking like an outstanding attacking force to a side that just can’t shoot straight. The latter showed up on Saturday, and that’s why the playoffs are almost out of reach after the loss to the Independence.
24 Sporting KC II
Week 14: @ATX
Last Week:
SKC II once again showed why it has been a thorn in the side of every team in Group E. And it also showed why it’s going to finish last in the group after letting a good comeback come up short.
25 Portland Timbers 2
Week 14: TAC, @TAC
Last Week:
T2 might have lost on Sunday to Reno, but it made things interesting after its midweek victory against Real Monarchs SLC. There should be plenty of entertainment in the club’s final three games.
26 The Miami FC
Week 14: @CLT, TBR
Last Week:
Knocked out of playoff contention by the Charleston Battery on Sunday, Miami’s defense has conceded 29 goals in 12 games, tied for second-most in the Eastern Conference. That’s just not going to work.
27 Memphis 901 FC
Week 14: NC, @CLT
Last Week:
901 FC has aspirations to be one of the best clubs in the Championship long-term. On Saturday in Louisville it got a first-hand experience of what that looks like on the field.
28 Real Monarchs SLC
Week 14: @COS
Last Week:
Three consecutive defeats mean the playoff hopes are over for this season for the Monarchs. This season just hasn’t gone at all to plan.
29 OKC Energy FC
Week 14: ATX
Last Week:
Three games against San Antonio FC this season, no goals scored, nine goals conceded. There’s a lot of work to be done this offseason in Oklahoma City.
30 Las Vegas Lights FC
Week 14: LA
Last Week:
Las Vegas showed some fight in its back-to-back defeats in Southern California over the week, but conceding a two-goal lead to the Galaxy II was another example of the struggles the side is going to have to find a way to solve.
31 Tacoma Defiance
Week 14: @POR, POR
Last Week:
The Defiance were moments away from a morale-boosting win against Sacramento Republic FC on Sunday night, only to concede late in a 3-3 draw. At least they’re still above Portland in the standings.
32 Philadelphia Union II
Week 14: @HFD, @NY
Last Week:
The Union II looked good in their midweek victory against Loudoun United, and then less so against Hartford Athletic on Sunday evening. Finding a way to bridge that gap is going to be the focus for next season.
33 Atlanta United 2
Week 14: NY
Last Week:
Atlanta had almost done enough to earn a point against Tampa Bay on Wednesday night, only for a late letdown to undo its good work and see the Rowdies leave Fifth Third Bank Stadium with all three points.
34 Loudoun United FC
Week 14: @CHS
Last Week:
Simon Lefebvre couldn’t pull his magic for a second consecutive game as United lost to the Union II last Wednesday, but there was some improvement against Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC on Saturday.
35 Rio Grande Valley FC
Week 14: --

Last Week:
Wednesday night’s game with New Mexico has been postponed, which means the next time we might see the Toros in action is on September 30 against Austin Bold FC.

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