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USL Championship Power Rankings – Week 25

By NICHOLAS MURRAY -, 08/29/22, 4:00PM EDT


Legion FC has an overperforming defense, and an underachieving attack. So, is it a contender?

Welcome back to the USL Championship Power Rankings, where Birmingham Legion FC moves into top spot after a down week for the Eastern and Western Conference leaders.

So, what do we think we know about Legion FC?

Well, there’s certainly talent here, a lot of it proven in the Championship and higher levels. In Enzo Martinez, the side has one of the Championship’s all-time legends, and there are players like Bruno Lapa and Jonathan Dean, the latter of whom might be the most unheralded outside back in the league right now.

They’ve also got a defense that is greatly outperforming its Expected Goals mark in large part because goalkeeper Matt VanOekel has maintained his level from being an All-League Second Team selection a year ago. As of Monday morning, Legion FC is tied for fourth-fewest goals conceded in the league (25) while sitting outside the Top 10 in Expected Goals Against (31.48xGA), a differential of -6.48.

At the same time, even with all the firepower it possesses and some big numbers it put up recently against Loudoun United FC and Atlanta United 2, Birmingham is still somehow narrowly underperforming in front of goal.

“I was just joking in the locker room that I would come away disappointed that we only won 3-1,” said Legion FC Head Coach Tom Soehn on Sunday after his side’s victory against the New York Red Bulls II. “Most of the time you'd be excited about that. But I think when you have that many opportunities, you walk away hoping that you take some of those opportunities.”

So, what is Legion FC? It feels like a team that should threaten the best in the Eastern Conference. In the next few weeks, we’ll get a better idea.

Now, here’s how the rest of the picture looks across the league.

Atlanta United 2 Birmingham Legion FC Charleston Battery Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC Detroit City 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 Monterey Bay F.C. New Mexico United
New York Red Bulls II Oakland Roots SC Orange County SC Phoenix Rising FC Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC Rio Grande Valley FC Sacramento Republic FC San Antonio FC
San Diego Loyal SC Tampa Bay Rowdies FC Tulsa

Biggest Movers






1 Birmingham Legion FC
Week 26: @ MIA
Last Week:
After Sunday’s victory, Legion FC has won five of its last six to move to the fringe of top-two contention. The club’s underlying numbers are among the best in the league as well. Watch out.
2 Louisville City FC
Week 26: @ IND, v. SAC
Last Week:
LouCity couldn’t break down a resolute Miami FC defense on Saturday night and will now look to rebound on Wednesday night against LIPAFC rival Indy. Inside track to the best record in the regular season is on the line.
3 San Antonio FC
Week 26: @ OAK
Last Week:
SAFC is in the playoffs, but it’s only 2-2-1 in its last five games. That’s kept the door open for San Diego Loyal SC ahead of their September 10 rematch.
4 Tampa Bay Rowdies
Week 26: v. LV
Last Week:
The Rowdies produced when it mattered against Orange County at both ends of the field, getting back into the mix for second place alongside Memphis.
5 San Diego Loyal SC
Week 26: @ MB
Last Week:
SD Loyal did a whole lot right in its defeat to Oakland last Wednesday night, and ran into a ridiculously hot goalkeeping performance by Paul Blanchette. Just hope that doesn’t happen in the playoffs.
6 Memphis 901 FC
Week 26: v. LDN, @ OC
Last Week:
901 FC saw everyone in the Eastern Conference’s top seven gain on them over the weekend. It will want to respond on Wednesday night against Loudoun before heading west for the weekend.
7 Detroit City FC
Week 26: v. IND

Last Week:
A 3-0 victory is about as good a present as you can get a Head Coach for his 100th game on the sideline. Congratulations to Trevor James, may many more seasons lie ahead.
8 Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC
Week 26: v. CHS, @ LDN

Last Week:
The Hounds got the job done against Atlanta United 2 thank to Albert Dikwa. Now they’ll be looking for a six-point week before the schedule really toughens up again.
9 Sacramento Republic FC
Week 26: @ LOU

Last Week:
Sacramento jumped back past New Mexico United into fourth thanks to its first victory against rival Oakland. Now, time to get ready for the biggest week in club history.
10 The Miami FC
Week 26: v. BHM
Last Week:
Florian Valot is coming into his own at just the right time for Miami. That’s three wins in a row, three shutouts in a row, and a nicely balanced side.
11 Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC
Week 26: v. PHX
Last Week:
The Switchbacks and New Mexico combined for only four shots on target on Saturday night. Good thing Colorado Springs has Hadji Barry to call on for a little bit of magic.
12 Rio Grande Valley FC
Week 26: @ PHX
Last Week:
The Toros got all their pent-up attacking frustrations out against 10-player Las Vegas. If Jose Francisco Torres can pull the strings like that the rest of the way, there’s real room for hope.
13 FC Tulsa
Week 26: @ ATL
Last Week:
Tulsa rebounded from a midweek defeat with victory but couldn’t gain any ground on either Detroit City FC or Miami FC. The side’s playing better, but it might just be too late.
14 Oakland Roots SC
Week 26: v. SA

Last Week:
A brilliant midweek victory in San Diego was backed up by a disappointingly toothless loss to Sacramento. The door’s still open, but the wins have got to arrive in bunches down the final seven games.
15 El Paso Locomotive FC
Week 26: @ NM
Last Week:
Locomotive FC is above the playoff line, but not in control of its destiny. A few more performances like its win against Phoenix, though, and we could have a different story.
16 New Mexico United
Week 26: v. ELP
Last Week:
New Mexico’s early-season performances are keeping it solidly above the playoff line, but it’s going to need more from its midseason arrivals to make any postseason noise.
17 LA Galaxy II
Week 26:---
Last Week:
Los Dos are the latest Western Conference side to peek over the 50 percent playoff chance ledge. The question now is can it leverage itself further up the standings with Tsubasa Endoh in tow?
18 Las Vegas Lights FC
Week 26: @ TBR
Last Week:
Write one nice thing about Lights FC and look what happens. Sorry for the jinx, y’all.
19 Hartford Athletic
Week 26: @ NY
Last Week:
There’s no coming back for Hartford for a playoff position this year, but getting a good road victory against FC Tulsa offered something for new Head Coach Tab Ramos to think about.
20 Monterey Bay F.C.
Week 26: v. SD
Last Week:
Three defeats in the last four games, and suddenly the deficit MBFC is facing is eight points with nine games to go. Those playoff hopes aren’t dead, but they’re not in good shape anymore.
21 Loudoun United FC
Week 26: @ MEM, v. PIT
Last Week:
United States U-19 international Kristian Fletcher is building quite the highlight reel. One to keep an eye on the rest of this season, and beyond.
22 Indy Eleven
Week 26: v. LOU, @ DET
Last Week:
It wasn’t the prettiest performance, but Indy’s 12-game winless streak is over. Head Coach Mark Lowry’s is now 4-2-2 against San Antonio FC individually in his career.
23 Phoenix Rising FC
Week 26: v. RGV, @ COS
Last Week:
Defeat in El Paso wasn’t the start Phoenix needed to the Juan Guerra era, and now the side is in must-win territory against both Rio Grande Valley FC and Colorado Springs this week.
24 Orange County SC
Week 26: v. MEM
Last Week:
A 10-point margin to bridge and only eight games to go, Saturday night’s loss to Tampa Bay probably spelled the end of OCSC’s title defense
25 Charleston Battery
Week 26: @ PIT, v. NY
Last Week:
The Battery just couldn’t really get going against Detroit City’s solid back line. As a result, their playoff chances are over for this season.
26 New York Red Bulls II
Week 26: v. HFD, @ CHS
Last Week:
The Red Bulls II were eliminated from playoff contention before their loss to Birmingham Legion FC, but that was a great Bradley Wright-Phillips tribute from Jordan Adebayo-Smith on Sunday.
27 Atlanta United 2
Week 26: v.TUL

Last Week:
Jackson Conway delivered another goal, but there weren’t points to be had again for Atlanta as it plays out the string.

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