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USL Championship Power Rankings – Week 14

By NICHOLAS MURRAY -, 07/28/21, 4:00PM EDT


Phoenix shows the multiple ways it can beat you and returns to the top spot

Hello, and welcome to the latest edition of the Championship’s Power Rankings.

And look which club is back at the top of the rankings.

Phoenix Rising FC’s victory against San Diego Loyal SC on Saturday night – holding the hosts without an official shot on goal while becoming the first visitor to take victory at Torero Stadium this season – put the defending Western Conference Title-holder back on top this week after El Paso Locomotive FC’s draw with New Mexico United, and showed why Rising FC is the heavy favorite to lift the title at the end of this season.

The biggest reason is Phoenix can beat you any way you offer them. Want to get into a shootout? They’ve scored more goals than any team in the league. Want to try and keep the ball away from them? They’ll hold you off defensively as they did SD Loyal and take advantage of counterattack and set piece opportunities. Rising FC is tied for the league-high with five assists off set pieces this season, alongside those training ground wizards New Mexico United and Louisville City FC.

And then there’s the little big man, who is always ready to strike. With 49 goals and 40 assists in 91 regular-season appearances in the Championship, Solomon Asante has been Phoenix’s ace in the hole since he arrived prior to the 2018 season and with eight goals and six assists this season is on his way to a second double-double season after his 2019 campaign.

Are they perfect? No, nobody is in this sport. But with the most points in the league after dips in form by others at the top of the Championship’s other divisions, Rising FC is setting things up to where the Championship Final runs through Wild Horse Pass. That should make everyone else a little bit nervous.

Here’s how the big picture looks today. As always, feel free to come and yell at me on Twitter (@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 Oakland Roots SC OKC Energy FC Orange County SC Phoenix Rising FC
Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC Real Monarchs SLC Rio Grande Valley FC Sacramento Republic FC San Antonio FC San Diego Loyal SC Sporting KC II
Tacoma Defiance Tampa Bay Rowdies FC Tulsa

Biggest Movers






1 Phoenix Rising FC
Week 15: @ RGV
Last Week:
Rising FC went from attacking fireworks against the LA Galaxy II to a defensive masterclass against San Diego Loyal SC to make it four wins in the past five outings, showing off all the side has to offer.
2 El Paso Locomotive FC
Week 15: @ SA, v. SLC
Last Week:
That was a choppy affair against New Mexico United on Saturday night, and now Locomotive FC has to head to an in-form San Antonio FC for what is going to be a must-see matchup on Wednesday night.
3 Louisville City FC
Week 15: @ SKC, v. OKC
Last Week:
Louisville will be annoyed it let its late lead slip in Colorado Springs, but the side is still in very good position while undefeated in its last three outings.
4 Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC
Week 15: v. HFD
Last Week:
The Hounds have won three out of their last four and played some very nice soccer against the Red Bulls II last Friday night. It also feels like this side hasn’t hit its peak level yet, either.
5 San Diego Loyal SC
Week 15: @ TAC, @ LA
Last Week:
Saturday’s loss aside, make no mistake, San Diego is still a strong contender, but they are going to be some important takeaways from how Phoenix was able to contain them ahead of Thursday’s visit to Tacoma.
6 Hartford Athletic
Week 15: @ PIT
Last Week:
The Athletic produced a statement victory against Miami FC at home on Saturday night to cement their position in the Atlantic’s top four, and just as well with Charleston now on the charge up the standings. Can it do the same in Pittsburgh on Saturday?
7 Rio Grande Valley FC
Week 15: v. PHX

Last Week:
The Toros felt like Saturday night was an opportunity missed after conceding late to 10-man Austin Bold FC to miss out on victory. Their visit to Phoenix this weekend is going to be a massive game.
8 Birmingham Legion FC
Week 15: v. ATL
Last Week:
Jonathan Dean’s late winner was big for Legion FC, which is now two points back of LouCity for first place in the Central with a game in hand.
9 The Miami FC
Week 15: v. CHS
Last Week:
Prior to Saturday night, Miami had figured out an answer for the teams it had lost to previously this season. Hartford, though, appears to still have its number so far.
10 OKC Energy FC
Week 15: @ LOU
Last Week:
Energy FC couldn’t find a breakthrough against SKC II at home on Saturday night but is still well positioned in the top four of the Central Division before this weekend’s visit to Louisville City FC.
11 Tampa Bay Rowdies
Week 15: v. CLT
Last Week:
The Rowdies were emphatic in their attack against Loudoun United FC to get back in the win column. It’ll need the same as it heads to Charlotte on Saturday after an anemic performance in its prior visit to the Independence.
12 Charleston Battery
Week 15: @ LDN(W), @ MIA
Last Week:
Battery surge? With victories against the Charlotte Independence and Loudoun United FC in the past five days, Charleston is starting to look like the playoff contender we perennially expect.
13 FC Tulsa
Week 15: v. ATL
Last Week:
Tulsa returns to the scene of its heaviest loss this season on Wednesday as it visits Atlanta United 2. Coming off back-to-back defeats, I’m expecting a strong response.
14 San Antonio FC
Week 15: v. ELP, @ ATX
Last Week:
Nathan Fogaca has found his footing and Jose Gallegos is catching fire. With other teams settling for draws, San Antonio could make a very big move if it can defeat El Paso on Wednesday night.
15 Austin Bold FC
Week 15: v. SA
Last Week:
Bold FC showed its resilience in picking up a point despite being down to 10 men against Rio Grande Valley FC, which now has the team undefeated in its past five games.
16 Orange County SC
Week 15: @ LV(L), @ OAK
Last Week:
Giving up a late goal to Sacramento Republic FC was tough, but giving up two to Las Vegas Lights FC on Tuesday? No wonder Head Coach Braeden Cloutier was kicking the bench in annoyance by the end.
17 New Mexico United
Week 15: @ TAC
Last Week:
New Mexico battled strongly against El Paso on Saturday night, but last Wednesday’s loss in San Antonio was a tough one. Sunday’s visit to Tacoma is going to be important.
18 Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC
Week 15: @ LDN
Last Week:
The Switchbacks got a draw that will have felt like a win thanks to Michee Ngalina’s late equalizer against Louisville last Friday. Three points against a struggling Loudoun side on Saturday is now a must.
19 Memphis 901 FC
Week 15: @ SKC
Last Week:
Memphis completed an undefeated month of July with its 1-0 win against FC Tulsa on Saturday night, and that moved 901 FC into prime position to challenge for a playoff place in August.
20 Sacramento Republic FC
Week 15: v. NY

Last Week:
Nabi Kibunguchy’s late equalizer grabbed a vital point for Sacramento, but it’s going to have to start stringing together wins now after Las Vegas and Los Dos’ victories.
21 Tacoma Defiance
Week 15: v. SD, v. NM

Last Week:
The Defiance have had quite the break since they last saw action, but it’s going to speed up in a hurry starting Thursday for some of the players that proved heroes for the Sounders in their win against Austin FC last week.
22 Las Vegas Lights FC
Week 15: v. OC(W)
Last Week:
Las Vegas let points slip away against the Monarchs on Friday night before rebounding in impressive fashion against Orange County. If Cal Jennings gets hot in front of goal, Lights FC could as well.
23 Charlotte Independence
Week 15: v. TBR
Last Week:
The Independence have lost four out of five to drop seven points out of the playoff places. Can the arrival of Premier League title-winner Christian Fuchs help stop that slide?
24 Real Monarchs SLC
Week 15: @ ELP
Last Week:
The Monarchs showed some real gumption to come back and take victory against Las Vegas, but it’s going to need a lot more of that to break into the Mountain Division’s playoff conversation.
25 LA Galaxy II
Week 15: v. OAK
Last Week:
Los Dos finally broke out in attack thanks to Josh Drack and Jorge Hernandez against Oakland to snap a seven-game winless streak. They’ll need more of the same on Sunday against an SD Loyal side that will arrive on short rest.
26 Sporting Kansas City II
Week 15: v. LOU, v. MEM
Last Week:
SKC II’s Kendall McIntosh recorded a second consecutive shutout on Saturday against Energy FC, but the side slipped into the Central Division’s basement ahead of Wednesday’s visit from LouCity.
27 Indy Eleven
Week 15: --
Last Week:
No victories in the past five games for the Boys in Blue after Saturday’s late setback against Birmingham Legion FC. The playoff places are still firmly in view, but that form has got to change, fast.
28 New York Red Bulls II
Week 15: v. SAC
Last Week:
The Red Bulls II really gave Pittsburgh something to think about late in the first half last Friday night, but the Hounds figured it out to take victory and push New York 10 points away from the playoff positions.
29 Atlanta United 2
Week 15: v. TUL, v. BHM
Last Week:
Atlanta will try to regain its form as it hosts Tulsa on Wednesday night after scoring just once in the past three games.
30 Oakland Roots SC
Week 15: v. OC
Last Week:
The struggle is real for Oakland, but at least some key players are starting to get healthy again, good to see you back in action Tyler Blackwood.
31 Loudoun United FC
Week 15: v. CHS(L), v. COS

Last Week:
Loudoun got overwhelmed by Tampa Bay and then produced a great response to a similar start against Charleston on Tuesday, but it’s now five consecutive defeats at the bottom of the Atlantic.

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