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USL Championship Power Rankings – Week 32

By NICHOLAS MURRAY - nicholas.murray@uslsoccer.com, 10/16/23, 4:30PM EDT

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Hounds seem team to beat with Players’ Shield, strong close to regular season in back pocket

It’s by no means a guarantee of success but being on the right trajectory going into the USL Championship Playoffs can offer some insight as to how things might turn out.

For Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC, it’s another reason to believe that this could be their year.

The Hounds have taken 20 points from their past eight games to close the season (6-0-2), a run that saw the side clinch the Championship’s Players’ Shield with a game to spare and allow only five goals in the final seven games.

You know who that sounds a lot like?

Last year’s title winner, San Antonio FC.

Head Coach Alen Marcina’s side went 6-0-2 to close the campaign on its way to the first silverware of the season, as well only losing once at home in the regular season.

Go further, and you can see postseason momentum being a likely contributing factor to other successful runs. Orange County SC closed the 2021 regular season with five consecutive wins before lifting the trophy, while Real Monarchs SLC went 5-1-1 over its final seven games in 2019.

Then there’s Louisville City FC, which until this season had seemingly owned the months of September and October in recent years. The side took six consecutive wins to close the regular season paved the way to the side’s 2018 crown, and while things were a little rockier in 2017 the side still went 5-1-3 in its final nine games.

There are no guarantees at this time of year, and Head Coach Bob Lilley would be the last person you’d expect to be complacent, but the signs are all there for the Hounds to success over the next month.

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

Rank

 

Team

Change

Summary

1 Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC
(19-5-10)
Week 33: v. DET

Last Week:
1
The Hounds wrapped up an eight-game undefeated run to close the season with a draw in Detroit and will now face Le Rouge again to open the playoffs. Expect a more adventurous performance.
2 Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC
(16-13-5)
Week 33: @ SA

Last Week:
2
Aside from Pittsburgh, the Switchbacks have taken the most points of any team over the final eight games of the regular season. Is this the moment to end their winless streak against San Antonio?
3 Sacramento Republic FC
(18-6-10)
Week 33: v. NM

Last Week:
3
Republic FC only needed one goal to knock off Miami FC, and could have scored more, but getting Russell Cicerone goals in back-to-back games is a good omen for the playoffs.
4 San Diego Loyal SC
(16-9-9)
Week 33: v. PHX

Last Week:
4
Very comfortable for SD Loyal in Koke – I mean Las Vegas. The final stretch starts here.
5 Orange County SC
(17-11-6)
Week 33: v. ELP
2
Last Week:
7
Orange County could have made things a little less nervous for itself if it had put away more than one of its big chances, but the No. 2 seed is a big bonus considering where this side was early in the season.
6 Tampa Bay Rowdies
(19-9-6)
Week 33: v. BHM
2
Last Week:
8
The Rowdies ended up leading the Eastern Conference with 60 goals this season with JJ Williams and Cal Jennings shining again against LouCity. Williams putting up nine assists this regular season is eye-popping.
7 Charleston Battery
(17-9-8)
Week 33: v. IND
3
Last Week:
10
The Battery were back to this season’s normal in defeating Birmingham Legion FC on Saturday night. Now for the club’s first home playoff game since the 2018 season.
8 Indy Eleven
(13-11-10)
Week 33: @ CHS
1
Last Week:
9
Is your glass half-full or half-empty? Getting a point on the road at San Antonio – and scoring three goals in the process – is impressive. It’s got to be a letdown to see the No. 5 seed slip out of your hands like that, though.
9 San Antonio FC
(14-6-14)
Week 33: v. COS
2
Last Week:
11
San Antonio’s refuse-to-lose attitude keeps finding a way to keep them in games, but they’ve only claimed eight points in their last eight overall. That’s the fewest of any team in the playoffs.
10 New Mexico United
(13-14-7)
Week 33: @ SAC
3
Last Week:
13
New Mexico blew away the odds and closed the season in style against Memphis. Going to Sacramento is not an easy task, but this side has belief, and momentum.
11 Memphis 901 FC
(14-10-10)
Week 33: v. LOU
5
Last Week:
6
There have been times this regular season when Memphis could convince you it’s capable of making a postseason run. Friday night was not one of those time, but there should still be hope here.
12 Miami FC
(11-15-8)
Week 33: --
7
Last Week:
5
No final miracle for Miami, and into the offseason we go. It’s going to be interesting to see what direction the club takes as it seeks a new permanent Head Coach and potential roster moves.
13 Detroit City FC
(11-15-8)
Week 33: @ PIT
2
Last Week:
15
Nathan Steinwascher only had one save to make against Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC, but it was a dandy and proved the difference between making the playoffs and missing out in the end.
14 El Paso Locomotive FC
(13-13-8)
Week 33: @ OC
4
Last Week:
18
Locomotive FC delivered when it needed most to secure a postseason berth. Getting back into the playoffs should render this season a success overall for Brian Clarhaut.
15 Birmingham Legion FC
(14-16-4)
Week 33: @ TBR
3
Last Week:
12
It continues to be befuddling how a team with as many attacking tools as Birmingham just can’t quite put it all together consistently. Serious dark horse potential, but don’t bank on it.
16 FC Tulsa
(10-15-9)
Week 33: --
3
Last Week:
19
No better way to end a campaign than with a five-goal romp, even if it doesn’t result in a playoff berth. Now we wait to see if Nathan Worth gets his chance to represent the United States at the Men’s U-17 World Cup.
17 Phoenix Rising FC
(12-10-12)
Week 33: @ SD
3
Last Week:
14
Going into the playoffs on your longest winless streak since last July doesn’t feel like a recipe for success. This Rising FC side has undeniable talent, though, so we’ll see what happens.
18 Rio Grande Valley FC
(10-11-13)
Week 33: --
1
Last Week:
17
The Toros will be left to wonder how it might have felt to clinch a playoff place in second-half stoppage time of their final regular season game. Would have been dramatic, for sure.
19 Louisville City FC
(14-12-8)
Week 33: @ MEM
3
Last Week:
16
LouCity joins the ranks of teams that recorded two goals on one official shot on target in its loss against Tampa Bay. One win in its last five games does not scream Eastern Conference Finalist.
20 Oakland Roots SC
(11-14-9)
Week 33: --
2
Last Week:
22
At least we got one more spectacular highlight to close Roots SC’s season. Take a bow, Anuar Pelaez.
21 Monterey Bay F.C.
(11-15-8)
Week 33: --
1
Last Week:
20
It was technically over before MBFC kicked off, and now into the offseason we go. Rafael Baca looks like a keeper, who else will join him back at Cardinale Stadium?
22 Hartford Athletic
(4-24-6)
Week 33: --
1
Last Week:
21
The Athletic brought in a club-record crowd on Friday night and then had it all fall apart inside 15 minutes. Expect big changes this offseason.
23 Las Vegas Lights FC
(3-21-10)
Week 33: --

Last Week:
23
It ends with a whimper, not a bang. In a full season, only two teams have won fewer games than Lights FC’s three this campaign.
24 Loudoun United FC
(7-23-4)
Week 33: --

Last Week:
24
One point over the final eight games of the season after Saturday’s late capitulation. The only way is up.

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