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USL Championship Power Rankings – Week 22

By NICHOLAS MURRAY -, 09/22/21, 1:45PM EDT


Phoenix takes a lot of shots, does that mean goalkeepers have their best games against them?

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

We’ve seen it now across more than a few games this season. One team is dominating the other, and yet the goalkeeper keeps pulling out big save after big save to keep the scoreline level, or at least respectable.

This past week proved another example, as while Phoenix Rising FC took a 4-1 victory against Las Vegas Lights FC at Wild Horse Pass, goalkeeper Alex Rando produced a standout collection of saves in a 10-stop performance to help keep the hosts from more.

So, has Phoenix been victimized by some standout goalkeeper displays this season? Yes, and no.

Let’s be clear: Phoenix has seen some goalkeepers produce outstanding performances this season. Rando has recorded 24 saves and a 72.7 save percentage in his two visits to Wild Horse Pass this season. But overall, it’s somewhat in the middle of the pack when it comes to opposing goalkeepers save percentages for the season at 66.9 percent. That is, in fact, as average as it gets, with the league’s overall save percentage this season sitting at 66.96 percent.

You can see this reflected in Phoenix’s Expected Goals mark. The side’s 56 goals this season have come at a mark of 54.65xG, according to American Soccer Analysis. Rising FC has taken the most shots on goal in the league this season, so while some goalkeepers have shone, it’s an illustration that these things tend to even out in the end.

The team that hasn’t happened for, at least yet? That would be Memphis 901 FC, which has seen opposing goalkeepers record a league-best 77.9 save percentage this season. Recently among those performances has been a seven-save shutout by OKC Energy FC’s CJ Cochran on September 1, and a nine-save shutout by Miami FC’s Connor Sparrow on September 11. Overall, Memphis has posted a 32.72xG mark this season but has only 24 goals to show for it.

As 901 FC fights for a playoff place it certainly could use a little more good fortune – or the goalkeepers it is facing to cool off a little bit – down the stretch.

Here’s how the big picture looks elsewhere. 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 23: @ HFD

Last Week:
The Rowdies have made history, now it’s Evan Louro’s turn as he goes for a ninth consecutive individual shutout to break the tie with Rio Grande Valley FC’s Callum Irving in Hartford on Saturday.
2 The Miami FC
Week 23: @ CLT, v. LDN

Last Week:
Miami’s undefeated streak is at nine games after Saturday’s draw with the Battery, but they’ll get another serious test from the Charlotte Independence on Wednesday night in a must-see contest at Memorial Stadium.
3 Phoenix Rising FC
Week 23: @ TAC

Last Week:
Rising FC can be the first team to clinch a playoff place on Wednesday, depending on Oakland’s result against San Diego. The side itself will try to add to a five-game winning streak on Saturday that has been led by Aodhan Quinn and Santi Moar.
4 El Paso Locomotive FC
Week 23: @ ATX
Last Week:
Locomotive FC kept itself on course for the Mountain Division title as it held Colorado Springs scoreless on its home turf, but it will want a win on Wednesday in Austin to keep up its bid for the best record in the league.
5 San Antonio FC
Week 23: v. NM
Last Week:
SAFC taking back-to-back wins on either sides of the country was impressive, and now the side has the inside track to a second-place finish ahead of Saturday’s clash with New Mexico United.
6 Louisville City FC
Week 23: @ MEM
Last Week:
It wasn’t the prettiest performance, but LouCity’s 2-0 win against Indy Eleven in the third edition of the LIPAFC was effective and helped cement the side’s lead in the Central Division as both Birmingham and Tulsa dropped points.
7 Charlotte Independence
Week 23: v. MIA, @ BHM
Last Week:
The Independence have recorded three consecutive wins, and three consecutive shutouts, after Saturday’s win against Pittsburgh. Wednesday’s game with Miami is going to huge as they make a run at a top-two finish.
8 San Diego Loyal SC
Week 23: @ OAK, @ LV
Last Week:
SD Loyal has won three out of four and finally solved Tacoma after prior defeats. They’re in very good position for a second-place finish ahead of a two-game week on the road against Oakland and Las Vegas.
9 Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC
Week 23: v. CHS
Last Week:
The Hounds weathered Charlotte’s pressure early and then had chances of their own to take the lead on Saturday night before conceding late. They’ll look to rebound on Saturday night back home against Charleston.
10 Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC
Week 23: v. ATX
Last Week:
The Switchbacks earned a second draw this season against the best side in their division, and then rallied on the road to pick up another big victory. The only question now is, with Michee Ngalina headed on loan to Los Angeles FC, who steps up to replace his production?
11 Austin Bold FC
Week 23: v. ELP, @ COS
Last Week:
We’ve seen the gameplan Austin employed in Tulsa before – they did the same on the road in Pittsburgh earlier this season in another 1-0 win – and while it might be a high-wire act the side came through for a third consecutive win.
12 FC Tulsa
Week 23: @ SKC
Last Week:
All that possession and so little end product. We honestly expected a bit more with the talent Tulsa has on Saturday night, and now the side needs to respond on Friday against SKC II.
13 Birmingham Legion FC
Week 23: @ ATL, v. CLT
Last Week:
After a poor first half, Birmingham showed more of what it was capable of against OKC Energy FC to earn a draw. That effort’s going to have to be more consistent moving forward if Legion FC is going to get where it wants to go.
14 Oakland Roots SC
Week 23: v. SD, @ OC
Last Week:
One up, one down for Oakland last week, but the fact that it closed the gap to Tacoma was the more significant result of the two. They need to keep the pressure on against San Diego on Wednesday night.
15 OKC Energy FC
Week 23: v. IND
Last Week:
Energy FC’s CJ Cochran rebounded well after giving up a goal he’ll want back, and that was enough to preserve a point before Sunday’s crucial contest against Indy Eleven.
16 Orange County SC
Week 23: v. OAK

Last Week:
Orange County couldn’t take full advantage of playing a man up for a half against Phoenix on Saturday, and that lost it ground to San Diego in the race for a home playoff game.
17 Memphis 901 FC
Week 23: v. IND, v. LOU
Last Week:
Memphis set itself up for a huge week at home with a convincing victory, but there’s still a question as to who’s going to support Kyle Murphy – who has 13 of the clubs’ 24 goals – in finding the back of the net.
18 Tacoma Defiance
Week 23: v. SAC, v. PHX
Last Week:
The Defiance have lost three in a row and while they’re still in fourth place in the Pacific need to find a way to halt this downturn, starting on Wednesday night back at Cheney Stadium against Sacramento.
19 Atlanta United 2
Week 23: v. BHM, @ RGV
Last Week:
Like most clubs recently, Atlanta couldn’t find a breakthrough against Tampa Bay, but it’s still reasonably positioned in the Central Division playoff race if it can find a way to overcome Birmingham at home on Wednesday night.
20 New Mexico United
Week 23: @ SA
Last Week:
That was the most complete performance New Mexico has put together in attack this season. More of that, and they’ll put pressure on the top four, but consistency hasn’t exactly been United’s forte this season.
21 Charleston Battery
Week 23: v. NY, @ PIT
Last Week:
The combination of four games without a win and Charlotte’s three-game winning streak has moved the Battery close to must-win territory. Certainly, they need all three points against the Red Bulls II on Wednesday.
22 Hartford Athletic
Week 23: v. TBR
Last Week:
Hartford picked up the result it had to have against the Monarchs last Wednesday night, now it’s got to step up in back-to-back home games against Tampa Bay and Charlotte to keep its playoff hopes moving.
23 Indy Eleven
Week 23: @ MEM, v. OKC
Last Week:
The Boys in Blue have scored only 11 goals in 13 home games this season after Saturday’s loss, which may be the biggest reason Indy finds itself in its current predicament.
24 LA Galaxy II
Week 23: @ SAC
Last Week:
Los Dos got a big win on the road in Oakland, the question now is whether it can turn on the gas for a run down the stretch starting in Sacramento on Sunday?
25 Sacramento Republic FC
Week 23: @ TAC, v. LA
Last Week:
Republic FC had some decent advantages including home field and rest and still couldn’t find a way past San Antonio on Saturday night. It’s been that sort of season at Heart Health Park.
26 Sporting Kansas City II
Week 23: v. TUL

Last Week:
– SKC II got the week off and now gets to try and play spoiler to an FC Tulsa side looking for a top-two position on Friday night.
27 Rio Grande Valley FC
Week 23: v. ATL
Last Week:
The Toros had a lead and let it slip against the Switchbacks to continue their recent winless streak. The side almost has to win at home to Atlanta on Saturday night to get this poor run over and done.
28 New York Red Bulls II
Week 23: @ CHS, @ SLC

Last Week:
The Red Bulls II kept creating against Memphis but couldn’t find a finish as their losing streak continued. Now they head to Charleston on Wednesday looking for a boost as official elimination nears.
29 Real Monarchs SLC
Week 23: v. NY

Last Week:
Monarchs goalkeeper Jeff Dewsnup keeps impressing with his shot-stopping abilities. Real’s defeat in New Mexico could have been a lot heavier if not for his performance
30 Loudoun United FC
Week 23: v. HFD

Last Week:
Loudoun is set to return to action on Saturday, but will be without a pair of potential players after El Salvador called up defender Allexon Saravia and midfielder Jeremy Garay for its exhibition with Guatemala at Audi Field on Friday night.
31 Las Vegas Lights FC
Week 23: @ PHX

Last Week:
Lights FC goalkeeper Alex Rando has recorded 24 saves on 33 shots in two combined visits to face Phoenix this season. That’s pretty impressive, even if the results recently haven’t been.

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