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USL Championship Power Rankings – Week 20

By NICHOLAS MURRAY -, 09/08/21, 1:00PM EDT


Tulsa has found its winning touch, but how sustainable is this run looking?

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

Very early this season, I was pretty bullish on where FC Tulsa might be headed this season, and immediately everything came to a juddering halt. So, now the side’s on a four-game winning streak – the best in its history – with wins against both Birmingham Legion FC and Louisville City FC in there, things are back on track, right? 

Well, maybe. And maybe not. 

Because in terms of underlying numbers, we’re still seeing the same sort of thing that was happening at the start of the year. Over the course of Tulsa’s four-game winning streak since August 22, it’s once again overperformed defensively, allowing only three goals while sitting at a mark of 6.34xGA over four games. It’s also allowed more shots than it has taken, which is showing off some impressive defensive resilience. The problem is that isn’t necessarily something that’s sustainable when it comes to repeating performances like Friday’s 1-0 win against Louisville City FC, the club’s first on the road against LouCity.  

“To knock off a lot of these firsts, the next time if we ever go to Louisville again, we know that we can beat them,” said Tulsa Head Coach Michael Nsien ahead of Wednesday’s game with Indy Eleven. “We know we can handle a team like Birmingham. It is important that we grow in confidence in things that we do. We continue to increase the expectation and raise the bar.” 

There are clear positives to the steps forward Tulsa has taken this season, and they’re up to No. 6 in this week’s rankings because of it. But it certainly feels like there’s still work to be done for this side to get where it wants to go when the postseason arrives. 

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 Tampa Bay Rowdies
Week 21: @ CHS(W), v. NY
Last Week:
The Rowdies have not only won four games in a row, but they’re now on a 621-minute shutout streak defensively after Tuesday’s 1-0 win against the Charleston Battery. That’s sixth-longest in league history.
2 The Miami FC
Week 21: @ MEM
Last Week:
Saturday night’s comeback was solid, especially given the side’s absences to international duty, but there’s now an eight-point gap to make up to Miami’s in-state rivals with 10 games to go for each.
3 Phoenix Rising FC
Week 21: @ LA
Last Week:
It’s been no easy trip to win in Tacoma this season, but Phoenix did so to leave itself and El Paso as the only sides with undefeated home records at this point of the season.
4 Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC
Week 21: v. LDN
Last Week:
The Hounds needed a trigger to get into order against Hartford on Saturday night, but once they went behind early in the second half the shots didn’t stop coming until they’d come away with a second consecutive win.
5 El Paso Locomotive FC
Week 21: v. SAC

Last Week:
Somehow, someway, Locomotive FC pulled a point out of the fire in Orange County on its only shot of the second half. It’s got to maximize its games in hand to get back into position for the No. 1 overall seed, though.
6 FC Tulsa
Week 21: v. IND, v. BHM
Last Week:
Friday night’s win not only put Tulsa on a club-record four game winning streak, it also meant its earned a split of its regular-season series with both Louisville City FC and Birmingham Legion FC. Pretty, pretty good.
7 San Antonio FC
Week 21: @ ATX(L), @ SLC
Last Week:
Conceding late to Pittsburgh, and then falling to Austin Bold FC stalled San Antonio’s momentum for the moment. They’re going to have to battle through with an arduous schedule ahead the rest of the month.
8 Louisville City FC
Week 21: @ HFD(W), @ OKC
Last Week:
Louisville hammered away but lost to Tulsa on Friday night but responded well to claim victory in Hartford with a four-goal performance on Tuesday. There’s no better attacking team in the Eastern Conference.
9 San Diego Loyal SC
Week 21: @ OAK
Last Week:
Seven goals in two games with Augustine Williams having a role in four of them? This loan could work out very nicely indeed for SD Loyal in the long run.
10 Birmingham Legion FC
Week 21: @ TUL
Last Week:
Legion FC had a big chance to take first place – at least temporarily – from Louisville but them imploded in stoppage time against Memphis. That will not have been a good film session.
11 OKC Energy FC
Week 21: v. LOU
Last Week:
Saturday evening’s game with Sporting Kansas City II proved a bridge too far for OKC, but the victory against Memphis was the bigger result of the week to get the side back above the playoff line again.
12 Tacoma Defiance
Week 21: --

Last Week:
Tacoma won the game it was supposed to against Las Vegas on Thursday and then couldn’t find a way against Phoenix on Sunday. If it keeps winning the games it should, though, there’s a playoff place waiting for this side.
13 Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC
Week 21: v. SLC, v. RGV
Last Week:
The Switchbacks’ have struggled against New Mexico this season, and ended up losing three out of four in their regular-season series. They’ll want to bounce back strongly against the Monarchs on Wednesday.
14 Charlotte Independence
Week 21: @ LDN, v. HFD

Last Week:
The good news for the Independence is neither the Charleston Battery or Hartford Athletic picked up a point in the past seven days, but this side is too experienced to be letting two-goal leads slip away.
15 Atlanta United 2
Week 21: --
Last Week:
With two wins and a draw so far this season, Atlanta’s got Indy’s number so far. That could be big if tiebreakers come into play to decide fourth place in the Central.
16 Oakland Roots SC
Week 21: @ LV, v. SD
Last Week:
Roots SC got a reality check in Tampa Bay, but it’s still got enough games left to make some noise. It will need to continue bridging the gap to the top four on Wednesday in Las Vegas, though.
17 Orange County SC
Week 21: v. LV
Last Week:
You can sense the disappointment for OCSC in letting three points against a great opponent in El Paso slip away late, but there was still a lot to like about the direction the team is now taking.
18 Sacramento Republic FC
Week 21: @ ELP
Last Week:
Six goals in two games would ordinarily earn a bit more of a boost, but the lost lead in LA and sub-par first half in Las Vegas are giving us pause for the moment.
19 Memphis 901 FC
Week 21: v. MIA
Last Week:
Go on, admit it. How many times have you watched Raul Gonzalez’s goal since Saturday night? It’s OK, you’re definitely not alone.
20 Charleston Battery
Week 21: v. TBR(L)
Last Week:
The Battery battled against Tampa Bay but couldn’t break the defensive door down. Going to have to find a way in some key games coming up over the rest of the month.
21 Hartford Athletic
Week 21: v. LOU(L), v. CLT
Last Week:
Hartford can’t slow down opposition attacks – they’ve given up 343 shots and 125 shots on target, both second-highest in the league behind Las Vegas – and Jeff Caldwell isn’t going to stop everything.
22 Austin Bold FC
Week 21: v. SA(W), v. NM
Last Week:
Whatever you can say about the prior performances, there was something bright about Bold FC in its first outing under new Head Coach Ryan Thompson. It’s going to make the Mountain Division that much more interesting.
23 New Mexico United
Week 21: @ ATX
Last Week:
Finally, victory, and an incisive attacking display on top of it. Now, can New Mexico repeat that against Austin on Friday night? 
24 Indy Eleven
Week 21: @ TUL, v. SKC
Last Week:
The pressure is back on after Saturday’s loss to Atlanta. Indy still has games in hand on both OKC and Atlanta, but it’s not been consistent enough to take advantage of them yet as it heads to Tulsa on Wednesday.
25 Rio Grande Valley FC
Week 21: @ COS
Last Week:
The good news for the Toros was the attack looked far more menacing than it has in a while against Loudoun United, but if you don’t get the goals to show for those efforts it can be just as deflating.
26 Sporting Kansas City II
Week 21: @ IND
Last Week:
Sporting showed off some real quality against OKC Energy FC on Saturday. The playoffs are still probably out of reach, but SKC II could be a serious spoiler down the stretch with more games like that.
27 LA Galaxy II
Week 21: v. PHX
Last Week:
The Preston Judd-led comeback against Sacramento was outstanding, right until Los Dos gave away a late penalty to let the visitors equalize, and they followed that with a loss in San Diego. That’s not the way to get to the playoffs.
28 New York Red Bulls II
Week 21: @ TBR
Last Week:
Give the Red Bulls II credit, they battled hard in Pittsburgh and then broke through against Hartford to snap out of their losing streak. 16-year-old Serge Ngoma is also really starting to catch the eye.
29 Loudoun United FC
Week 21: v. CLT, @ PIT
Last Week:
It’s not every game, but goalkeeper Jermaine Fordah has some outings where he does enough to keep United in contention, and Saturday’s 1-1 draw at Rio Grande Valley FC was one of those contests.
30 Real Monarchs SLC
Week 21: @ COS, v. SA
Last Week:
The Monarchs battled back in San Antonio but couldn’t hold on for a result. Now they’ve got to go back to Weidner Field and take on the Switchbacks and their potent attack on Wednesday.
31 Las Vegas Lights FC
Week 21: v. OAK, @ OC
Last Week:
Las Vegas has dropped to last in the Pacific Division with Oakland’s recent surge and is going to be without some key pieces on Thursday after the scenes we saw following LA’s winner on Friday night.

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