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USL Championship Power Rankings – Week 18

By NICHOLAS MURRAY -, 08/25/21, 3:00PM EDT


Tampa Bay’s defense is back to its best with an un-rotating cast of characters

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

In case you hadn’t noticed, the Tampa Bay Rowdies’ defense is back, even though it didn’t really leave.

But with three consecutive shutouts – the latest courtesy of goalkeeper Evan Louro’s second penalty save of the season on Monday night, a late save in stoppage time, and some enthusiastic jawing at anyone and everyone against Loudoun United FC – the Rowdies have reestablished the foundation that their success under Head Coach Neill Collins has been founded.

There might have been more danger, more fires to put out at Segra Field – ask Indy Eleven about that – but the Rowdies managed it well as Louro individually moved into the league lead in shutouts this season. With the back-line trio of Jordan Scarlett, Forrest Lasso and Aaron Guillen before him, the unit that has 38 out of 38 games together since the start of the 2020 season is looking back to the top of its game.

Think about that, for a minute. Every single game, regular season and playoffs since March 2020, Collins has been able to write in ink the same four players. Louro and Guillen have played every minute. Lasso has been absent for 57 of them. Scarlett for 100.

As the defending Eastern Conference Title holders look to reclaim their crown, that’s something to rely on.

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 El Paso Locomotive FC
Week 19: @ SA
Last Week:
El Paso has scored 20 of its 30 goals this season in the second half. At this point, it’s not a question of if they’ll get you, but when. Saturday’s game at San Antonio could be a very good one.
2 Louisville City FC
Week 19: @ BHM
Last Week:
LouCity got truly stymied for the first time this season by OKC’s defensive organization on Sunday night, posting a sub-1.00xG mark in a game for the first time this season. They’ll try to rebound on Saturday in Birmingham.
3 Phoenix Rising FC
Week 19: @ OAK, v. NM

Last Week:
This is the first time Phoenix has been held to three consecutive draws since it opened the season with four in a row in 2019. Of course, things started to pick up a little bit after that over the rest of the season.
4 The Miami FC
Week 19: v. NY

Last Week:
Miami picked up a good victory against Hartford on Sunday night to stay in touch with Tampa Bay at Pittsburgh at the top of the Atlantic, and the side is now undefeated in its last five games overall.
5 Charlotte Independence
Week 19: @ TBR

Last Week:
The Independence were a little bit ticked at conceding to the Switchbacks on Saturday night after doing the hard work to get ahead. There’s a battle ahead with the next two games against Tampa Bay and Miami.
6 Tacoma Defiance
Week 19: @ OAK
Last Week:
The Defiance have won three in a row after their victory in Orange County last Wednesday night. They’ll be looking for another road success on Saturday in Oakland
7 Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC
Week 19: @ HFD
Last Week:
The Hounds’ attack got back on track on Sunday night with Russell Cicerone and Alex Dixon leading the way against Atlanta. The chemistry that duo has developed is really exciting.
8 Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC
Week 19: @ ATX
Last Week:
It might not have the same notoriety as El Paso’s ability to rally for results, but the Switchbacks now lead the league with 15 points gained from losing positions after Saturday’s thriller with the Independence.
9 Tampa Bay Rowdies
Week 19: @ LDN(W), v. CLT
Last Week:
Four games undefeated, three consecutive shutouts, it looks like the Rowdies are back to their old selves again. Saturday’s visit from Charlotte is a marquee game given the talent on both sides.
10 Birmingham Legion FC
Week 19: v. LOU
Last Week:
The before and after for Junior Flemmings since he got back from Gold Cup duty with Jamaica is glaring. Before: Eight games, one assist. After: Five games, four goals, one assist. That’s a very good sign for Birmingham’s big-picture chances.
11 San Antonio FC
Week 19: v. ELP
Last Week:
San Antonio loved Monday night’s draw between Austin and New Mexico, which kept them in the middle of the battle for fourth with two games in hand on both. Now it’s got a big test with El Paso coming to town.
12 FC Tulsa
Week 19: v. MEM, v. ATL
Last Week:
Tulsa showed how good it can be in Sunday night’s victory in Birmingham. Now the trick is going to be putting those performances in consistently, especially in two key home games this week against Memphis and Atlanta.
13 Hartford Athletic
Week 19: v. PIT

Last Week:
One step forward against Charleston, one step back against Miami. The Athletic are still in the middle of the playoff race but are going to have to be sharp against Pittsburgh on Saturday night.
14 OKC Energy FC
Week 19: v. RGV

Last Week:
Energy FC accomplished its aim in limiting LouCity’s attack, but it’s going to have to show more itself in the attacking third to pick up the victories it needs for a playoff bert
15 Atlanta United 2
Week 19: @ TUL
Last Week:
Sunday’s defeat in Pittsburgh was a major bump in the road, now Head Coach Jack Collison’s side will have to rebound in Tulsa on Saturday night to try and maintain its edge in the playoff race.
16 Sacramento Republic FC
Week 19: v. SD
Last Week:
Republic FC is undefeated in seven and looked like a team on the rise even if it couldn’t find a winner against Phoenix Rising FC and Andre Rawls. Saturday’s home game with San Diego is going to be massive.
17 San Diego Loyal SC
Week 19: @ SAC
Last Week:
SD Loyal set a club record last Wednesday night, but then gave up a lead at home to Orange County to follow it up for a third loss in the past four games.
18 Memphis 901 FC
Week 19: @ TUL, @ SKC
Last Week:
Memphis starts the second half of its season on Wednesday night in Tulsa and will play 16 games in 67 days between now and the end of the regular season. Can the squad hold up to the pressure of a game basically every four days
19 Charleston Battery
Week 19: v. OC

Last Week:
The Battery took a step back against Hartford, but then got a breakthrough in New York on Friday night. They’re starting to get healthier, too, which could make for a strong second-half run.
20 Rio Grande Valley FC
Week 19: @ OKC
Last Week:
The Toros squared up to Locomotive FC in the first half and got a lead but became the latest victim of a relentless side. They’ll need to bounce back well on Sunday in Oklahoma City.
21 Austin Bold FC
Week 19: v. NM(T), @ COS

Last Week:
Austin is tied with Energy FC with eight draws this season after Monday night’s result. While it’s hard to beat, it’s not getting the home wins it needs to be a playoff team right no
22 Oakland Roots SC
Week 19: v. PHX, v. TAC
Last Week:
Oakland continued its upturn in form against Las Vegas on Saturday night to make it four games undefeated. Can they spring a surprise at home to Rising FC on Wednesday night
23 Orange County SC
Week 19: @ CHS
Last Week:
A change at the helm produced the desired result for OCSC in San Diego on Saturday night. We’ll see if that bounce be sustained to solidify this squad’s overall position on Saturday against Charleston.
24 New Mexico United
Week 19: @ ATX(T), @ PHX
Last Week:
Five consecutive draws aren’t playoff form. We know this because all four prior teams that have recorded at least five draws in a row during a season haven’t made it, including record-holder Orlando City B – six consecutive draws in 2017 – which missed out by two point
25 Real Monarchs SLC
Week 19: @ IND

Last Week:
The Monarchs get back to action on Saturday night against Indy Eleven and could provide a playoff spoiler against a side that needs a victory on its home turf.
26 Loudoun United FC
Week 19: @ TBR (L)
Last Week:
Loudoun finally broke through against Indy last Wednesday night, and then regressed back with a fourth missed penalty kick out of five against the Rowdies on Monday. This side is going to catch someone else out, and maybe more, though.
27 Indy Eleven
Week 19: v. SLC
Last Week:
Indy caught a haymaker from Loudoun, and then couldn’t find a way past Sporting KC II’s Graham Smith on Sunday night when it really needed a win. Things just aren’t going the way they need to, right now.
28 Las Vegas Lights FC
Week 19: v. LA
Last Week:
Lights FC’s defense has regressed in its three-game losing streak, conceding 10 times in its last three games. Friday’s game with the Galaxy II is looking like a must-win.
29 LA Galaxy II
Week 19: @ LV
Last Week:
That’s the case for Los Dos, too, as it now looks at an eight-point gap to the playoff positions with 12 games to play.
30 Sporting Kansas City II
Week 19: v. MEM
Last Week:
SKC II somehow found a way to earn a point against Indy and break its losing streak. The playoffs are almost certainly out of reach now, though.
31 New York Red Bulls II
Week 19: @ MIA
Last Week:
The Red Bulls II’s playoff chances got even slimmer after last week’s defeat to the Independence, but Omar Sowe continues to come on impressively in the club’s attacking line.

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