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USL Championship Power Rankings – Week 21

By Staff, 07/31/23, 3:00PM EDT


Former contenders for top spot, Memphis, El Paso end month with sinking feeling

Currently, it’s a strange state of affairs at Memphis 901 FC and El Paso Locomotive FC.

Remember when they were both contenders for first place in their respective conferences? Lengthy undefeated streaks had Memphis looking like it had regained the momentum that carried it to a second-place finish in the East a season ago after a wobbly start under Stephen Glass, while Locomotive FC looked like it was fully back after missing the playoffs a season ago.

Now, both are going to have to work to make sure they’re still in the playoff picture come October.

For El Paso, it’s been a disaster month. Losses to each of its three biggest rivals – including at home to New Mexico United and San Antonio FC before conceding five goals to Rio Grande Valley FC on Saturday – have the side closer to the playoff line that the top spot it once held.

The same can be said about July for Memphis, which has sprung a leak at the back. Four unanswered goals against Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC on Saturday marked the fourth time in six games this month the side had shipped at least four goals. The relative weakness of the bottom five in the East makes 901 FC’s situation slightly less trepidatious, but it’s still closer to the playoff line than it is the Hounds at the top.

We’ve got 11 weeks to go in the regular season, while means the push for the playoffs is on. In Memphis and El Paso, it means a turnaround is needed to ensure they’re playing in the third weekend in October.

Here’s how this week’s rankings look.

Birmingham Legion FC Charleston Battery Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC Detroit City FC El Paso Locomotive FC Hartford Athletic Indy Eleven Las Vegas Lights FC
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

Biggest Movers






1 Charleston Battery
Week 22: v. OAK

Last Week:
The Battery have scored eight goals in the final 15 minutes of games this season, and now lead the league with 14 points gained from losing positions. Huge momentum swing against Legion FC.
2 San Diego Loyal SC
Week 22: v. OC
Last Week:
SD Loyal was made to work for its third consecutive win by Colorado Springs, but it did enough. Now it has four more games in a row at Torero Stadium, which means it’s time to press for the top.
3 Tampa Bay Rowdies
Week 22: @ PIT
Last Week:
Welcome back, Nicky Law. The Rowdies had to weather Tulsa’s pressure in the first half but were clinical when it came to their own chances after the break to keep pace in the East.
4 Orange County SC
Week 22: @ SD
Last Week:
Bryce Jamison has been central to consecutive game-winners for Orange County, a great sign for the 17-year-old as he pushes to be part of the U.S. squad for the Men’s U-17 World Cup later this year.
5 Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC
Week 22: v. TBR
Last Week:
The Hounds were subpar for almost three consecutive halves before Joe Farrell broke the spell. In the second half against Memphis, though, they were undeniable.
6 San Antonio FC
Week 22: @ PHX
Last Week:
There’s still work to be done defensively, but when you’ve got an attack as explosive as San Antonio’s can be it doesn’t matter nearly as much as it might.
7 Sacramento Republic FC
Week 22: @ MB
Last Week:
A six-point week and everything is relatively back to normal for Republic FC. Solidly in control at the top of the Western Conference, it’ll get stronger as more reinforcements return as well.
8 Oakland Roots SC
Week 22: @ CHS
Last Week:
Paul Blanchette is putting together a Goalkeeper of the Year campaign, and it’s got Oakland potentially moving toward a first home playoff game in the Championship.
9 Rio Grande Valley FC
Week 22: @ LV
Last Week:
The Toros scored five goals in a Copa Tejas game for the first time against Locomotive FC. Taylor Davila’s been a brilliant addition, and they’re still in the picture for the playoffs.
10 Birmingham Legion FC
Week 22: v. CHS
Last Week:
Saturday was a game Legion FC would have expected to win after taking the lead against Charleston. Letting it slip away will be very frustrating.
11 New Mexico United
Week 22: @ HFD
Last Week:
A step back in Orange County despite a positive second-half performance. Getting a result on the road against Hartford is going to be important ahead of three consecutive games against top-four opponents.
12 FC Tulsa
Week 22: v. LOU
Last Week:
That was a frustrating night for Tulsa, which might have taken the lead before being pegged back by Tampa Bay. Friday night’s game at home to Louisville should be a good one.
13 Miami FC
Week 22: v. ELP
Last Week:
Miami has consecutive wins for the first time this season, and Adrian Zendejas looks to be in his best form of the season. They need to keep pushing from here, though
14 Louisville City FC
Week 22: @ TUL
Last Week:
A dominant display all over the field will feel good for LouCity against its biggest rival. Congratulations to Oscar Jimenez on passing 30 regular season assists for his career, too.
15 Phoenix Rising FC
Week 22: v. SA
Last Week:
This week showed the dilemma we have with Phoenix – we’re just not sure which version is going to show up. Great display by Rocco Rios Novo to help preserve the win in Monterey Bay, though.
16 Detroit City FC
Week 22: --

Last Week:
Le Rouge will be annoyed they couldn’t find a second goal against Oakland on Saturday night. If the attack can keep that energy there should be good things coming over the final third of the season.
17 Indy Eleven
Week 22: v. MEM
Last Week:
The Boys in Blue were excellent against Pittsburgh in midweek, and then just weren’t at the races against LouCity on Saturday. Above the playoff line, but the side’s consistency isn’t where it needs to be.
18 El Paso Locomotive FC
Week 22: @ MIA
Last Week:
Locomotive FC has conceded five goals in a game in three consecutive seasons now. After going ahead twice in South Texas, that just wasn’t pretty at all.
19 Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC
Week 22: v. BHM
Last Week:
The Switchbacks are winless in three and probably need to pick things up back on home turf in the next two games to stay above the playoff line with Phoenix and New Mexico right behind.
20 Memphis 901 FC
Week 22: @ LDN
Last Week:
Just when Memphis looked like it had got things back on track, another defensive meltdown. That’s at least four goals conceded in four of the past six games for 901 FC.
21 Monterey Bay F.C.
Week 22: v. SAC

Last Week:
Three consecutive defeats, and winless in six games overall. That’s not going to get a side into the playoffs as competitive as the Western Conference is.
22 Hartford Athletic
Week 22: v. NM

Last Week:
Scoring twice against San Antonio is no mean feat. There’s still so much work to be done at the other end of the field, though.
23 Loudoun United FC
Week 22: v. MEM

Last Week:
The promise Loudoun showed early this season is starting to fade. United really needed to get something out of that contest with Miami, and now it’s got a five-point deficit with only 11 games to play.
24 Las Vegas Lights FC
Week 22: v. RGV

Last Week:
Lights FC just can’t catch a break. Eight defeats have been decided by one goal, including one this week in which it certainly looked to have scored a legitimate equalizer in Oakland.

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