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USL Championship Power Rankings – Week 27

By NICHOLAS MURRAY -, 10/27/21, 2:30PM EDT


Division title showdown between Legion FC, LouCity could mark changing of the guard

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

Saturday’s showdown for the Central Division title between first-placed Birmingham Legion FC and second-placed Louisville City FC could serve as a potential changing of the guard.

On one hand, you have LouCity, the two-time USL Championship title winner, a club that has reached the Eastern Conference Final of the USL Championship Playoffs in every season of its history. In all manners, they’re one of the measuring sticks that other clubs look at when it comes to evaluating their own progression on and off the field.

And then you have Legion FC, which has progressed over its first three seasons from a playoff side to what feels like now a potential challenger to that crown. Birmingham will for the first time this year host a playoff game, and it has a squad led by Jamaican forward Neco Brett – currently having his finest season in the professional ranks – that is filled with talent all over the field.

But, as noted above with its historic run of postseason success, this is the time of year when LouCity always seems to come alive. It has won more postseason games than any other team in the Championship’s history going 15-3-2 on its way to those two titles and three Championship Final appearances. It’s won at home, but it’s also claimed memorable victories on the road, including at Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC and Indy Eleven in 2019.

Saturday’s game at BBVA Field is also on the road for LouCity and should have a playoff feel. If Legion FC gets the win or draw it needs to earn at least two home games in the playoffs, it could a sign of changing times.

If LouCity comes through, though, the chances are we might be in for a very familiar postseason run once more.

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 Birmingham Legion FC
Week 28: v. LOU

Last Week:
Legion FC geared up for the biggest game of its regular season with a six-goal romp past Sporting Kansas City II. Everything seems to be fitting together well as the side’s undefeated streak sits at nine games.
2 Charlotte Independence
Week 28: v. LDN, @ ATX

Last Week:
The Independence have won five in a row and nine out of their last 10 to sit in control of second place in the Atlantic Division. All eyes on Dane Kelly as he goes for the century mark of goals on Wednesday evening.
3 Tampa Bay Rowdies
Week 28: @ LV
Last Week:
The Rowdies dominated in-state rival Miami FC last Wednesday night and never looked to be troubled by Loudoun United on Saturday, and the won both while rotating players from their core defensive quartet.
4 El Paso Locomotive FC
Week 28: @ RGV
Last Week:
Seven goals without reply to wrap up a 13-0-3 home slate in the regular season has Locomotive FC moving strongly toward the postseason, and Josue Aaron Gomez’s best season for the side adds another great attacking weapon.
5 Orange County SC
Week 28: @ LV
Last Week:
OCSC is on a four-game winning streak, including crucial result last Wednesday against San Diego Loyal SC. A draw in their finale at the LA Galaxy II is now enough to earn a home playoff game to start the playoffs.
6 Phoenix Rising FC
Week 28: v. TAC
Last Week:
Phoenix didn’t look like itself during the first half against Sacramento on Saturday night, and that sort of play – after the loss to Orange County SC last week – isn’t inspiring confidence.
7 Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC
Week 28: @ MIA, v. HFD
Last Week:
The Hounds picked up an important three points against Charleston at home on Saturday night and now get to try and keep the pressure on Charlotte down to the wire.
8 Louisville City FC
Week 28: @ BHM
Last Week:
Cameron Lancaster’s second hat trick in LouCity colors lit up Saturday’s performance, but those goals late in halves are still a worry heading to Birmingham this weekend.
9 Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC
Week 28: @ SA
Last Week:
The Switchbacks keep finding ways to pull points out at the death to keep in with a chance of a home playoff game. Saturday’s visit to San Antonio is going to be fascinating.
10 San Antonio FC
Week 28: v. COS
Last Week:
SAFC had more than enough chances but couldn’t come through against Austin Bold FC on Saturday. A draw would be good enough to claim second place against Colorado Springs, but a sharp display of finishing would be a great confidence boost before the playoffs begin.
11 Memphis 901 FC
Week 28: v. TUL, v. IND
Last Week:
Memphis battled in Louisville but couldn’t come away with a result. It can still lock in the No. 3 seed in the Central with a victory against FC Tulsa on Wednesday night, though.
12 FC Tulsa
Week 28: @ MEM, v. OKC
Last Week:
Tulsa is back in the playoffs and undefeated in its last three games. If its attack can execute the way it did against Atlanta United 2 last Wednesday against tougher opposition, this still could be a dark horse to make a run.
13 Oakland Roots SC
Week 28: v. SKC
Last Week:
Oakland was minutes from elimination after San Diego’s comeback to level. That they found a way to pull a win out of the fire and stay alive was impressive, and they might be the on-paper favorite to now advance in the Pacific.
14 San Diego Loyal SC
Week 28: @ SAC
Last Week:
Consecutive defeats moved SD Loyal down to third in the Pacific and in need of help to get back into second on Saturday night. Pretty disappointing week, all things considered.
15 The Miami FC
Week 28: v. PIT, @ CHS
Last Week:
Miami couldn’t get anything going in attack against the Rowdies last Wednesday night, but still rebounded with a solid enough win against the Red Bulls II on Sunday. The road beckons for the playoffs, though.
16 New Mexico United
Week 28: v. SLC
Last Week:
New Mexico United pulled off a big victory against San Antonio FC on Wednesday night powered by a remarkable performance by Chris Wehan, and then came out flat against Rio Grande Valley FC to let its advantage slip. They needed final day heroics two years ago, can they get the same this time?
17 Rio Grande Valley FC
Week 28: @ SLC, v. ELP
Last Week:
The Toros have their route to the playoffs in their hands, but consistency hasn’t exactly been the hallmark of this side in the second half of the season. The Monarchs’ aren’t going to be a pushover on Wednesday, either, let alone El Paso Locomotive FC on Saturday.
18 Hartford Athletic
Week 28: v. CHS(W), @ PIT
Last Week:
Danny Barrera’s on top of the assists chart after Tuesday’s win against the Charleston Battery. That would be a nice silver lining in what’s been a pretty good close to the season.
19 Indy Eleven
Week 28: @ MEM

Last Week:
Indy has a big offseason of decisions ahead, but there are some positive pieces to work with here for whomever the club decides will lead it in 2022.
20 LA Galaxy II
Week 28: v. OC
Last Week:
Los Dos is still in control of its playoff fate, but consecutive defeats conceding six goals was not what the side was aiming for in the past week. Saturday’s game with Orange County is going to be a must-see.
21 Tacoma Defiance
Week 28: @ PHX
Last Week:
The Defiance kept themselves alive in the Pacific Division race, although they will be disappointed not to have created more against Oakland last weekend. The challenge is going to be facing a Phoenix Rising FC side that still needs a result on the road when Tacoma likely needs a win to advance.
22 Austin Bold FC
Week 28: v. CLT
Last Week:
Bold FC is the last of the three teams alive for the final playoff place in the Mountain, but with the side looking for its first win since October 6 on Saturday night against Charlotte, it’s not looking on the cards.
23 New York Red Bulls II
Week 28: @ LDN

Last Week:
The Red Bulls II took a big midweek win against Loudoun before falling in Miami on Sunday night as goalkeeper AJ Marcucci kept up his good recent form.
24 Sacramento Republic FC
Week 28: v. SD
Last Week:
Sacramento is the only team this season to go to Phoenix twice and come away without suffering defeat. You’d think that would mean more in the big picture, unfortunately it doesn’t.
25 OKC Energy FC
Week 28: @ TUL
Last Week:
Energy FC got a feel for how far it’s got to go to become a contender after that drubbing El Paso Locomotive FC handed it on Sunday night.
26 Real Monarchs SLC
Week 28: v. RGV, @ NM
Last Week:
The Monarchs are undefeated in three games, and really should have consecutive wins if only that late miscommunication hadn’t let the Switchbacks in for an equalizer. Still, this is a decent conclusion to the season.
27 Charleston Battery
Week 28: @HFD(L), v. MIA
Last Week:
It’s been a frustrating year overall for the Battery, as exemplified by Tuesday’s soggy defeat in Hartford. Time to start planning for 2022.
28 Las Vegas Lights FC
Week 28: v. TBR
Last Week:
Lights FC almost produced a remarkable result on the road against Orange County after scoring on its first shot on target in stoppage time. Unfortunately, the visitors managed to give the point away moments later.
29 Atlanta United 2
Week 28: ---
Last Week:
Atlanta has had some really good performances this year, which makes it that much more disappointing to go out with a 4-0 defeat on the road in Tulsa to wrap things up.
30 Loudoun United FC
Week 28: @ CLT, v. NY

Last Week:
Four defeats in a row, Loudoun will try to end on a high note on Saturday at home to the Red Bulls II.
31 Sporting Kansas City II
Week 28: @ OAK

Last Week:
SKC II got knocked back early and never recovered in Birmingham. It’ll want to show a little bit more as it wraps up the season in Oakland on Saturday.

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