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USL Championship Power Rankings – Week 26

By NICHOLAS MURRAY -, 09/05/22, 4:00PM EDT


The Switchbacks have tightened up their defense, fueling a crucial turnaround in form

Welcome back to the USL Championship Power Rankings, where Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC seems to have figured out its defensive issues just in time for a crucial final stretch of the season.

If you watched the Switchbacks at all during a nine-game run where the side conceded 26 goals between a 3-2 defeat at home to San Diego Loyal SC on the Fourth of July and the club’s 3-0 loss to Sacramento Republic FC on August 17, you’ll have known it wasn’t due to bad luck.

Over that span, there was only one game in which Colorado Springs allowed an Expected Goals Against mark below 1.50xGA, and the team averaged 6.56 shots on target faced. Even for a team that upgraded at goalkeeper this offseason with the addition of Jeff Caldwell, that wasn’t going to go well.

It was in many ways a return to the free-wheeling ways of 2021, which saw the Switchbacks record 60 goals but concede 50, the most of any team to reach the USL Championship Playoffs.

Now, the side is on a run of three consecutive shutouts, which have resulted in three consecutive victories to push Colorado Springs back into contention for second place behind San Diego Loyal SC. A combination of better spacing and in the past two outings winning individual matchups consistently has played into that, as has better balance in when to push the gas pedal into attack and when to stay.

“We were leaky and now we’re airtight,” said Switchbacks Head Coach Brendan Burke on Saturday after a 1-0 win against Phoenix Rising FC that saw the visitors to Weidner Field only record two shots. “To take nine points out of your first available nine in a homestand is the type of form that you can see make a deep run in the playoffs.”

That’s the sort of momentum, and defensive play, the Switchbacks didn’t possess last season, and it will make their visit to San Antonio on September 20 one to circle now as a potential Western Conference Final.

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 San Antonio FC
Week 27: v. SD
Last Week:
Samuel Adeniran might be the best loan pick-up we’ve seen this season. Nine goals and 31 shots on target are both SAFC team highs for the big Texan, and now San Antonio’s in position to take the best record in the regular season.
2 Tampa Bay Rowdies
Week 27: @ CHS
Last Week:
The Rowdies filled up the scoresheet against Las Vegas on Saturday night as Leo Fernandes continues to make his case for Most Valuable Player. Great way to start an intriguing slate this month.
3 Birmingham Legion FC
Week 27: @ IND
Last Week:
Legion FC could have taken victory in South Florida, but Juan Agudelo’s penalty kick was denied, and Miami’s defense held up well enough otherwise. That shine an even brighter light on Sept. 14’s game with Pittsburgh.
4 Louisville City FC
Week 27: @ TUL, @ PIT
Last Week:
LouCity took a comfortable victory in the end against an under-strength Sacramento Republic FC, but that midweek loss to Indy Eleven was underwhelming defensively.
5 Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC
Week 27: v. DET
Last Week:
The Switchbacks have figured out their defense-attack balance. In their last three games, they’ve held opponents to a sub-1.00 Expected Goals mark and picked up three shutouts.
6 Detroit City FC
Week 27: @ COS
Last Week:
Le Rouge might have wanted more out of Saturday night’s tilt with Indy Eleven, and might have grabbed a winner late thanks to Antoine Hoppenot, but thanks to Atlanta United 2 they’re almost a lock for the playoffs now.
7 Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC
Week 27: v. LOU
Last Week:
The Hounds are undefeated in their last four games, but the schedule gets much more difficult from here. Consecutive games against Louisville City FC and Birmingham Legion FC will give us an idea as to whether this team can contend.
8 Memphis 901 FC
Week 27: @ ATL
Last Week:
Memphis was the better team against Loudoun in midweek but ran into one of the goalkeeping performances of the season. Saturday’s draw in Orange County ceded control over second in the East to Tampa Bay.
9 San Diego Loyal SC
Week 27: @ SA
Last Week:
The damage had already been done for SD Loyal by the time Kyle Adams got sent off in Monterey Bay. Now Colorado Springs is coming up fast in the rear-view mirror.
10 Sacramento Republic FC
Week 27: v. LDN
Last Week:
Sacramento gets a pass for Saturday’s result given the circumstances. Besides, thanks to El Paso Locomotive FC, it’s still in control of its path to a top-four finish as it goes into the biggest game in club history in Wednesday’s Open Cup Final.
11 The Miami FC
Week 27: @ NY
Last Week:
Miami earned a point at home against Birmingham, but did it feel like the hosts had the same heights in them that Legion FC has shown us? Not quite, I think.
12 El Paso Locomotive FC
Week 27: v. RGV
Last Week:
Locomotive FC’s consecutive victories have pulled it out of the mud in the Western Conference playoff race, and Luis Solignac now has six goals in the past four games to carry the attacking load.
13 Monterey Bay F.C.
Week 27: v. OC, @ LV
Last Week:
Monterey Bay powered back into the playoff conversation with an impressive home win against San Diego Loyal SC. If it takes victory on Wednesday at home to Orange County, the final stretch is going to get interesting.
14 Rio Grande Valley FC
Week 27: @ ELP, v. NM
Last Week:
The Toros almost grabbed a result against Phoenix on Wednesday night, but now get the decisive week of their season. They’ve still got the games in hand but need to beat El Paso and New Mexico to keep their playoff chances alive.
15 Indy Eleven
Week 27: v. BHM
Last Week:
Indy’s four-point week – and seven-point homestand – won’t be enough to get the side back into the playoffs this season but it showed a lot of promise for what could be ahead in 2023.
16 New Mexico United
Week 27: @ RGV

Last Week:
United lost to rival El Paso on Friday night to stay in fifth place, but there were things to be enthused about in the performance. The side just left its shooting boots in the locker room.
17 LA Galaxy II
Week 27: v. HFD, @ OC

Last Week:
Los Dos goes into Monday night’s game with Hartford Athletic with the door to the playoffs wide open. With Tsubasa Endoh in the fold this could be a dangerous side.
18 Oakland Roots SC
Week 27: @ PHX
Last Week:
There just wasn’t quite enough in Oakland’s performance to deserve a result against San Antonio on Saturday. Now it’s time for another crucial six-pointer in Phoenix on Saturday night, and all the underlying storylines that brings.
19 FC Tulsa
Week 27: v. LOU, @ HFD
Last Week:
Tulsa’s playoff chances were slim before it headed to Atlanta. Losing on the road against a team that had lost five in a row was probably the end of the road.
20 Hartford Athletic
Week 27: @ LA, v. TUL
Last Week:
Hartford’s midweek comeback against the New York Red Bulls II was sensational. Now there are a few teams in the Western Conference hoping they can carry that momentum into Monday’s game with the LA Galaxy II.
21 Phoenix Rising FC
Week 27: v. OAK
Last Week:
Phoenix took a step forward in midweek against Rio Grande Valley FC, and then two steps back on the road in Colorado Springs. The club’s two shots at Weidner Field were tied for the fewest in a game this season for Rising FC.
22 Loudoun United FC
Week 27: @ SAC
Last Week:
Luis Zamudio’s nine-save shutout against Memphis 901 FC on Wednesday night was the most saves in a clean sheet so far this season. United’s out of contention, but it can be a dangerous spoiler.
23 Charleston Battery
Week 27: v. TBR
Last Week:
The Battery earned a point on the road against Pittsburgh, and then romped past the New York Red Bulls II at home. Good week to build on.
24 Las Vegas Lights FC
Week 27: v. MB
Last Week:
Lights FC has conceded 11 goals in the past two games. It’s still above the playoff line, but things are looking really precarious right now.
25 Atlanta United 2
Week 27: v. MEM
Last Week:
Congratulations to Jackson Conway on earning the single-season goalscoring record with his brace on Saturday night against FC Tulsa. I’m sure the teams above the playoff line in the East will be thanking him, too.
26 Orange County SC
Week 27: @ MB, v. LA
Last Week:
OCSC couldn’t hold on for victory at home to Memphis on Saturday night as its playoff chances continued to slide away. The defending title holders lead the league in points dropped from a winning position (21) this season.
27 New York Red Bulls II
Week 27: v. MIA
Last Week:
The Red Bulls II couldn’t hold onto victory against Hartford, and then got rolled in Charleston. They’re now the only team in the Championship that hasn’t won a game in its last five outings.

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