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USL Championship Power Rankings – Week 31

By NICHOLAS MURRAY -, 10/09/23, 5:00PM EDT


Switchbacks gaining positive momentum as postseason draws near

If not for a remarkable stoppage-time equalizer a week ago, we could be talking about a Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC side that had reeled off five consecutive wins this week.

That being said, a six-game undefeated streak (4-0-2) is almost as good, and with the playoffs approaching the Switchbacks seem like they’re finding the right form at the right moment.

Not bad for a team that in preseason seemed to have lost an awful lot – although as some of us pointed out, had also done some very good work replacing the gaps those departures created.

And for a side that reached the Western Conference Final a season ago, doesn’t it feel like the Switchbacks are being a little bit overlooked?

Certainly, their recent results show a side that seems ready to battle this postseason. From earning victory on the road at Orange County SC and at home against Sacramento Republic FC, to battling back for a draw against a San Antonio FC side that has long had its number, there’s a solid recent resume.

Add in this past weekend’s victory against Las Vegas Lights FC, which saw the side absorb some blows but find enough quality to come out on top, and suddenly you have a No. 5 seed with the potential to surprise.

“The character of the San Antonio fight pretty much started a new season, and hopefully our playoff season,” said Switchbacks Head Coach Stephen Hogan a couple of weeks ago. “When we went against San Antonio and got 1-1, it was because we fought them to their game. We deserved something out of that game. Then going to Orange County, nobody in the league or anyone expected us to get anything out of that. They are on fire, they are a very, very, very good team.

“Then coming here [Weidner Field], people are like, eh, Colorado are going to be up and down again and here we go with another loss. But the understanding of what we did, the prep we did, and the quality of those two goals [to beat Republic FC], was just fantastic. That's character.”

It’s going to be a harder road for Colorado Springs to navigate this fall than last, but it would be a mistake to overlook one of the form teams in recent weeks.

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 Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC
Week 32: @ DET

Last Week:
The Hounds have outscored their opponents 18-6 in the opening half-hour of games and have only let two leads slip all season. That’s a formula for postseason success, too.
2 Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC
Week 32: v. PHX

Last Week:
Colorado Springs is undefeated in its last six games, including four wins. It’s not going to host a playoff game, but whoever hosts the Switchbacks will need to be on their game.
3 Sacramento Republic FC
Week 32: v. MIA
Last Week:
It doesn’t feel like Republic FC has hit its early-season peak recently in terms of form, but getting homefield advantage throughout the playoffs feels like it’s going to be significant for this group.
4 San Diego Loyal SC
Week 32: @ LV
Last Week:
When San Diego is on song, it feels like it can play with anyone. When it’s not, the question will be whether it can grind out a result this postseason.
5 Miami FC
Week 32: @ SAC
Last Week:
Four consecutive wins for the first time this season, Miami is in control of its playoff fate. Is it an advantage to know what you must accomplish well before kickoff? We might find out this weekend.
6 Memphis 901 FC
Week 32: @ NM
Last Week:
Memphis has scored four goals in three of its last five outings. When this team connects, it’s really difficult to slow down.
7 Orange County SC
Week 32: @ MB
Last Week:
Orange County showed us in the past week it can win stylishly, and in a street fight. That’s a good combination to have going into the playoffs.
8 Tampa Bay Rowdies
Week 32: @ LOU
Last Week:
The Rowdies couldn’t afford to go behind early against Pittsburgh, did so, and were unable to recover. If they get a third showdown with the Hounds, that’s going to be the biggest pregame focus.
9 Indy Eleven
Week 32: @ SA
Last Week:
IThe Boys in Blue don’t feel like the sort to step back from a challenge. They’ll need to play it smart in San Antonio this weekend, though.
10 Charleston Battery
Week 32: v. BHM
Last Week:
TThe Battery have suffered consecutive defeats in the league for the first time this season. There are no actual stakes this weekend, but you’d expect a strong display ahead of the postseason against Birmingham.
11 San Antonio FC
Week 32: v. IND
Last Week:
San Antonio has only earned eight points in its last eight outings. The best teams in the West have shown they know how to win against SAFC, and the fear factor seems to be slipping.
12 Birmingham Legion FC
Week 32: @ CHS
Last Week:
Legion FC is back in the postseason for a fifth consecutive season, although the injury to Phanuel Kavita is a concern. It’s not like Birmingham has seemed deep defensively this campaign.
13 New Mexico United
Week 32: v. MEM
Last Week:
Given the history between New Mexico and Phoenix, that’s one of the sweeter wins in club history. That it gave United control over its playoff path only added to the celebration.
14 Phoenix Rising FC
Week 32: @ COS
Last Week:
This is that tipping point where an eight-game undefeated streak becomes a four-game winless run. Phoenix must win in Colorado Springs this weekend to get the No. 5 seed back.
15 Detroit City FC
Week 32: v. PIT
Last Week:
Le Rouge were minutes away from controlling their playoff destiny before Miami’s comeback on Saturday. They’ve got the tiebreaker over Miami FC, but probably need to win against Pittsburgh.
16 Louisville City FC
Week 32: v. TBR
Last Week:
This is going to be the lowest points total LouCity has recorded in a full season since its inaugural campaign in 2015. Back then they only played 28 games to get to 48 points.
17 Rio Grande Valley FC
Week 32: v. LDN
Last Week:
The Toros picked the worst possible time to drop leads in two consecutive games. To do so against Sacramento is somewhat understandable, but against Hartford? Unforgiveable.
18 El Paso Locomotive FC
Week 32: @ OAK
Last Week:
Not to be alarmist, but the six combined shots El Paso took against San Diego Loyal SC and Memphis 901 FC this past week? That’s fewer than any single game otherwise for the club this season.
19 FC Tulsa
Week 32: @ HFD

Last Week:
Tulsa was in position to make it a three-team race for the final playoff spot with half-an-hour to go and couldn’t hold on. Lots of big decisions to be made this offseason.
20 Monterey Bay F.C.
Week 32: v. OC

Last Week:
It’s not over for Monterey Bay F.C. after Sunday’s loss but hosting a team that is fighting to potentially claim a No. 2 seed isn’t the ideal circumstance when you must win.
21 Hartford Athletic
Week 32: v. TUL
Last Week:
Two draws in the past week, both earned after going behind. It’s not a win, but it’s something positive.
22 Oakland Roots SC
Week 32: v. ELP
Last Week:
Oakland’s luck finally ran out on Saturday night as it dropped below the playoff line. At the same time, if Roots SC wins against El Paso Locomotive FC this weekend, it takes a playoff place.
23 Las Vegas Lights FC
Week 32: v. SD
Last Week:
Lights FC needs to take a win to avoid its lowest point total in a full season in club history. All it has to do is defeat San Diego Loyal SC, which is vying for a top-two finish.
23 Loudoun United FC
Week 32: @ RGV
Last Week:
The crowd looked good at Segra Field on Saturday night. Unfortunately, the hosts couldn’t find a way to give them something to celebrate.

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