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USL Championship Power Rankings – Preseason

By NICHOLAS MURRAY -, 03/09/23, 2:00PM EST


San Antonio starts the season on top, while Phoenix and Indy sit in Top 10 after offseason retools

Ah, the start of a new season.

Optimism abounds.

I’m reliably informed that Las Vegas Lights FC’s coaching staff is delighting in all our views on their playoff potential, so confident are they that this will be the year the club secures its first postseason trip.

And who can blame them?

The slate is wiped clean. Everyone is 0-0-0 with everything to play for.

We think we know things – the inevitability that has been Louisville City FC’s eight consecutive trips to the Eastern Conference Final will do that for you.

At the same time, this is the moment where everything is up for grabs.

So, what if it isn’t LouCity or San Antonio FC’s year?

What if it is Indy Eleven’s, a club that hasn’t been in the postseason since 2019? Or Lights FC, for that matter?

We’re ready for the chaos – or not. How about you?

Birmingham Legion FC Charleston Battery Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC Detroit City FC El Paso Locomotive FC Hartford Athletic Indy Eleven
Loudoun United FC Louisville City FC Memphis 901 FC The Miami FC Monterey Bay F.C. New Mexico United 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





1 San Antonio FC
Week 1: v. OAK
SAFC’s title defense begins on Saturday night, and Toyota Field should be rocking as numerous familiar faces take to the field for the first time since last November against a playoff foe in Oakland Roots SC.
2 Louisville City FC
Week 1: @ OC
The numbers at say LouCity’s the favorite to win the league title right now. If they do, they’ll become the first three-time title winner in the Championship’s history.
3 Sacramento Republic FC
Week 1: @ ELP
Russell Cicerone bagging two goals in the final game of preseason was exactly the sort of thing you’d like to see as a Republic FC supporter. Let’s see how he fares on Saturday night in El Paso.
4 Tampa Bay Rowdies
Week 1: v. IND
It’s going to be awfully strange to see Sebastian Guenzatti at Al Lang Stadium in another team’s colors on Saturday. High stakes for maybe the marquee game of opening weekend.
5 Birmingham Legion FC
Week 1: v. PIT
Legion FC’s attack looks explosive on paper. Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC’s return after last year’s playoff classic to open the season should be a good test for the hosts
6 San Diego Loyal SC
Week 1: v. DET
All the vibes feel right for SD Loyal going into Head Coach Nate Miller’s first season. Can they live up to the expectation against a solid Detroit City FC defense?
7 Miami FC
Week 1: v. TUL
Miami FC’s big challenge was picking up wins at home a season ago. Head Coach Anthony Pulis’ side will want to get out on the right foot against FC Tulsa on Saturday evening.
8 Phoenix Rising FC
Week 1: @ CHS
Is there a risk in putting Rising FC this high in the rankings this early? Sure. But it’s one we’re confident in, at least for the moment.
9 Memphis 901 FC
Week 1: v. LDN
901 FC was the revelation of the 2022 season, earning its first playoff win before an agonizing end against Tampa Bay. They’ll be eager to get out on the right foot under new Head Coach Stephen Glass.
10 Indy Eleven
Week 1: @ TBR
It’s still wild that we haven’t seen Indy Eleven in the postseason since 2019. Saturday’s visit to Tampa Bay is going to be a great test of Head Coach Mark Lowry’s new-look lineup.
11 New Mexico United
Week 1: ---
It can be risky to read too much into preseason results. That said, New Mexico going undefeated is solid and bodes well for a positive start when they kick off next week.
12 Rio Grande Valley FC
Week 1: v. LV
The Toros have made the playoffs the past two seasons, but last season no-one notched more than seven goals for the side. Who’s going to be the breakthrough finisher this campaign?
13 Monterey Bay F.C.
Week 1: v. HFD
Monterey Bay kept hold of all its essential parts from 2022 and added some strong experience at the back in Alex Lara and up front in Alex Dixon. Saturday’s visit from Hartford Athletic could be sneaky-entertaining.
14 Orange County SC
Week 1: v. LOU
As many changes as Orange County has seen this offseason, getting Louisville City FC to open the season is a big challenge. Still, watch out for the kids – Korede Osundina and Bryce Jamison are ballers.
15 Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC
Week 1: @ BHM
The Hounds only allowed one goal in five preseason games. That sort of steely defense should help keep things moving while the attack finds its feet at Highmark Stadium.
16 Charleston Battery
Week 1: v. PHX
The Battery have the reigning Championship Coach of the Year at the helm in Ben Pirmann, and a squad that feels in a good place. Saturday’s visit from Phoenix Rising FC looks high in entertainment potential.
17 Hartford Athletic
Week 1: @ MB
Hartford went out and made some big upgrades to its attack this offseason with Antoine Hoppenot and Elvis Amoh’s arrivals. If they live up to billing, Head Coach Tab Ramos’ side could quickly rise from this ranking.
18 Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC
Week 1: ---
The Switchbacks got so much recruitment done right after the season ended, it’s easy to focus on the departures. We’ll see how the new boys do next week in El Paso
19 Oakland Roots SC
Week 1: @ SA
There are some nice additions to Oakland’s roster, but we just can’t quite trust the attacking third yet. San Antonio’s defense is going to offer a stern opening test for Anuar Pelaez and co.
20 Detroit City FC
Week 1: @ SD
Le Rouge look solid again, especially defensively with Nathan Steinwascher, Stephen Carroll and Devon Amoo-Mensah all back. Can the attack provide enough punch in San Diego?
21 FC Tulsa
Week 1:@ MIA
Head Coach Blair Gavin gets a trip to Miami for his first game at the helm in Tulsa. This squad feels solid, but did it get better in the way Charleston, Hartford and Indy seemed to? We’ll see.
22 El Paso Locomotive FC
Week 1: v. SAC
There’s players with nothing to prove in this league at Locomotive FC, led by Luis Solignac. This overall group, though? They need to show us something Saturday against Sacramento.
23 Las Vegas Lights FC
Week 1: @ RGV
Erick “Cubo” Torres’ arrival to be the headline act in Las Vegas was one rabbit out of the hat for Lights FC. Six road games to start the Championship season – broke up by one home Open Cup game – is going to be a challenge.
24 Loudoun United FC
Week 1: @ MEM
It’s a new era for Loudoun United FC and Head Coach Ryan Martin. There were flashes last year, but not enough consistency. Can they change that this campaign?

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