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USL Championship Power Rankings – Week 24

By NICHOLAS MURRAY -, 10/06/21, 3:00PM EDT


Rowdies’ winning streak could open discussion of place in Championship’s broader history

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

The Tampa Bay Rowdies’ shutout streak might be done, but the club’s eight-game winning streak is also putting the side in rarified air in the USL Championship’s regular-season history.

The Rowdies are now tied for the fourth-longest winning streak in the league all-time and would reach a tie for second if they can come through this week at home to the Charleston Battery on Thursday night and away to Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC on Sunday evening with another six points.

The team they’d equal on 10 consecutive victories would be the 2018 FC Cincinnati side that is one of the best in the league’s history. While the all-time record of 20 set in 2019 by Phoenix Rising FC – maybe as untouchable record as there is in the league – is unlikely to happen, the Rowdies can put themselves in that conversation as producing one of the best single seasons in the Championship era.

How good have the Rowdies been? Well, there’s the defensive excellence of course, with goalkeeper Evan Louro three shutouts from a single-season record with six games to play. While this side hit some bumps in the road in midseason, it still remains 10 points clear of what has been a stacked top of the Atlantic Division with games in hand on the three teams likely to join the Rowdies in the postseason field.

But there’s one number that stands out most of all. In games in which the Rowdies have held a lead, they’ve not dropped a single point. No-one else in the league can say that at this point – even Phoenix let two points slip in its 2-2 draw with Las Vegas Lights FC on August 7.

Of course, the biggest measure of where the Rowdies will land historically comes in the postseason. That’s why for some the 2016 New York Red Bulls II side that not only finished with the best record in the league but was also the last to earn that position and lift the trophy at the Championship Final, is the best of all-time.

What we’re seeing now from the Rowdies, though, is building toward history, and we should savor every moment of that.

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 25: v. CHS, @ PIT

Last Week:
The Rowdies continued to roll in Charleston on Saturday, and now are only six points from clinching the Atlantic Division title as they face the Battery again on Thursday and Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC on Sunday evening.
2 Birmingham Legion FC
Week 25: v. IND
Last Week:
Legion FC now has the second-longest current winning streak at three games after its win against Sporting Kansas City II on Friday night. We could see the Central Division race go down to the wire.
3 Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC
Week 25: @ SLC

Last Week:
More than half the Switchbacks’ points this season (23 of 44) have been earned after the side has trailed, including Saturday’s late equalizer against El Paso Locomotive FC. Colorado Springs is now undefeated in six games overall.
4 Louisville City FC
Week 25: v. SKC
Last Week:
LouCity held onto first place with its win against New Mexico United, but the pressure will stay on with Birmingham Legion FC right there in second place in the Central Division with five games to go.
5 El Paso Locomotive FC
Week 25: v. SA, @ TUL

Last Week:
Luis Solignac does a lot for Locomotive FC, but he’s gone seven appearances without a goal, which is the longest scoreless stretch he’s had since arriving in the Championship last year. Needs to pick back up.
6 Phoenix Rising FC
Week 25: v. OAK
Last Week:
Phoenix fell for the first time in five years to the LA Galaxy II, and then had to squeak by Orange County. The division title is wrapped up, but there’s some work to be done here.
7 Charlotte Independence
Week 25: v. NY

Last Week:
The Independence could feasibly win out from here with none of their remaining games against teams currently sitting in a playoff position. That could be good enough for a second-place finish in the end.
8 The Miami FC
Week 25: @ LDN

Last Week:
After Saturday’s late winner by Pierre Da Silva, it’s hard to think Miami doesn’t just have it against Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC in a way few teams do.
9 San Antonio FC
Week 25: @ ELP, v. MEM
Last Week:
The 1-0 scoreline didn’t illustrate how seriously San Antonio dominated OKC Energy FC on Sunday evening, but the finishing wasn’t quite there for the visitors. Sharpen that up, and this is a dangerous side.
10 San Diego Loyal SC
Week 25: v. SAC
Last Week:
The past weekend couldn’t have gone much better for SD Loyal. They pick up a comfortable road win, Orange County SC falls to Phoenix, and now San Diego has breathing room as it pursues a second-place finish.
11 Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC
Week 25: v. TBR
Last Week:
The past three games without a win have tilted the odds toward the Hounds ending up in fourth place in the Atlantic Division. Sunday’s game with the Tampa Bay Rowdies is going to be a must-see.
12 Memphis 901 FC
Week 25: v. SKC, @ SA
Last Week:
The breaks 901 FC has gotten lately – the latest being Tulsa’s penalty miss in the second minute on Saturday night – are the type that a team destined for the postseason seem to get. They can take complete control with a win at home to Sporting Kansas City II on Wednesday night.
13 Orange County SC
Week 25: @ TAC
Last Week:
OCSC did so much right in the second half against Phoenix Rising FC without reward, but they’ll be very disappointed with the first-half display that contained only two shots, both blocked, from outside the penalty area.
14 FC Tulsa
Week 25: v. ELP
Last Week:
Tulsa had one of those nights against Memphis on Saturday. More than enough chances to win the game, and all the misfortune in the world to end up losing. We think they’ll bounce back, although a visit from Locomotive FC is going to be tough.
15 Oakland Roots SC
Week 25: v. SAC, @ PHX
Last Week:
Up a goal and a man with 10 minutes to go, Oakland couldn’t close the deal. That’s a result they’ll look back on remorsefully if they’re not in the playoffs in November.
16 New Mexico United
Week 25: v. HFD, v. RGV

Last Week:
If New Mexico had found a way to get a point in Louisville – and goodness knows, they were close to leveling in the second half – then it would have been a great week. They got the win they had to have against the Toros, though.
17 Sacramento Republic FC
Week 25: @ OAK, @ SD
Last Week:
Republic FC is right back in the middle of the playoff race after its victory against Tacoma Defiance, but it’s now got to show it can repeat that performance and produce a run of three or four results in a row.
18 Austin Bold FC
Week 25: v. TAC, v. OKC

Last Week:
This is a big week for Austin. Earning victories in their two home games that on paper look winnable against Tacoma Defiance and OKC Energy FC would put a lot of pressure on New Mexico United to match them.
19 LA Galaxy II
Week 25: @ LV

Last Week:
Los Dos were up against Phoenix Rising FC, then down against San Diego Loyal SC. Friday night in Las Vegas feels like it needs to be a victory ahead of two crucial games next week against Sacramento Republic FC and El Paso Locomotive FC.
20 OKC Energy FC
Week 25: @ ATX
Last Week:
Memphis 901 FC has still got to take advantage of its games in hand, but Energy FC just didn’t show enough until the very final minutes against San Antonio FC to be deserving of a point.
21 Rio Grande Valley FC
Week 25: @ NM

Last Week:
The Toros have been better in attack recently, and Jonas Fjeldberg looks like a lively addition. That still might not be enough to get into the postseason, though, with Saturday’s rematch at New Mexico looking like a must-win.
22 New York Red Bulls II
Week 25: @ CLT
Last Week:
– The Red Bulls II are undefeated in their last three games, even if they’ve been eliminated from playoff contention.
23 Atlanta United 2
Week 25: --
Last Week:
Atlanta’s almost certainly not going to the postseason at this point, but Aiden McFadden’s late equalizer against Indy Eleven on Saturday was the least of what the visitors deserved from that performance.
24 Charleston Battery
Week 25: @ TBR

Last Week:
The Battery’s postseason streak is almost certainly over, a sign of the changing times in the Championship as a whole.
25 Tacoma Defiance
Week 25: @ ATX, v. OC
Last Week:
The six-game losing streak the Defiance are on is a reminder that the games in hand you hold are only as valuable as you make them. They’ve still got a shot at the postseason, though.
26 Hartford Athletic
Week 25: @ NM, @ CHS
Last Week:
The Athletic produced more than enough chances against the Charlotte Independence last Thursday night, but the moment they set themselves up for a chance to win the game they gave it away immediately.
27 Indy Eleven
Week 25: @ BHM

Last Week:
Four points dropped in the dying minutes against OKC Energy FC and Atlanta United 2 over the past week. If there’s a sign this isn’t Indy’s year, that might be it.
28 Sporting Kansas City II
Week 25: @ MEM, @ LOU
Last Week:
SKC II might have lost to Birmingham Legion FC, but they’re capable of playing some really exciting soccer with the youthful talent in the squad.
29 Las Vegas Lights FC
Week 25: v. LA
Last Week:
The determination Lights FC showed to try and get a result even after being down to 10 men at Oakland was rewarded by CC Uche’s late equalizer. After a difficult long run, that’s going to be a nice boost.
30 Real Monarchs SLC
Week 25: v. COS
Last Week:
Once again, there’s just not enough attacking pop from the Monarchs right now with one goal in their past seven games.
31 Loudoun United FC
Week 25: v. MIA
Last Week:
Loudoun got a lesson from the veterans at the Charlotte Independence after going behind four goals inside 20 minutes on Sunday night. It was just too easy for the hosts.

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