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USL Power Rankings – Week 15

By NICHOLAS MURRAY -, 07/03/17, 3:25PM EDT


Charleston surge sees club slide into second ahead of big weekend game

Continuing an undefeated streak that has now reached five games with a solid 2-0 victory against the Tampa Bay Rowdies, the Charleston Battery have shifted up a place in this week’s edition of the Power Rankings. The Battery’s run, simultaneous with both Real Monarchs SLC and San Antonio FC hitting a minor bump in the road, has put them into the conversation for the USL Regular Season Championship for the moment, with only three points dividing them and the Monarchs.

The big question now facing the Battery – particularly with No. 4 Louisville City coming to visit this Saturday – is how the side will fare without USL leading scorer Romario Williams as he departs for the 2017 CONCACAF Gold Cup with Jamaica. Williams has taken a big step forward for the Battery this season, proving a tremendous handful for every defense he’s gone up against to push well clear of his goals total a season ago.

If there’s a model for what the Battery might look like moving forward, it could be the manner in which they approached a 1-0 win against Bethlehem Steel FC on May 6, when Williams was absent due to illness. A combination of solid defensive work and an opportunistic finish by Ataullah Guerra proved decisive then, and could during Williams’ absence. With three other players in the USL’s Top 50 goal scorers, and more potential playing time for veteran Cuban forward Heviel Cordoves in prospect, the Battery should be able to weather the absence, no matter how integral Williams has been to the team’s success so far.

The five-person voting panel tabulates 10 points for first-place team votes, nine points to the second-place team and so forth to one point for 10th place. The accrued points among the group determines the final ranking.

Here’s your new Top 10.

1. Real Monarchs SLC (48pts)
Last Week: L 2-0 at Tulsa Roughnecks FC
The Monarchs first saw their nine-game winning streak disappear, and then a 10-game undefeated run the following game as Tulsa Roughnecks FC produced a top-quality performance on Saturday night. The Monarchs will get the chance to rebound – and potentially expand their lead on San Antonio in the West – with a pair of matchups this week against OKC Energy FC and Seattle Sounders FC 2.

2. Charleston Battery (45pts)
Last Week: W 2-0 vs. Tampa Bay Rowdies
The Battery not only maintained their six-point advantage on Louisville City FC, but also got within touching distance of both Real Monarchs SLC and San Antonio FC for the most points in the USL overall. Saturday’s game with City FC should be a must-see. While there might not be eight goals in it a second time around, the battle for top-two positioning is going to be crucial as the second starts its second half.

Photo courtesy Zach Bland / Charleston Battery

3. San Antonio FC (42pts)
Last Week: D 1-1 at Sacramento Republic FC
San Antonio slides a spot after a solid road draw against Sacramento, and will now face a week off from league action as it entertains Liga MX’s Santos Laguna on Saturday night at Toyota Field. In the meantime, it will be hoping to see the Monarchs slip up and offer a way back to the top of the West when it returns to action.

4. Louisville City FC (34pts)
Last Week: W 2-1 vs. Ottawa Fury FC
Louisville got just the response it was looking for to last week’s defeat as the side came out of the gates forcefully to earn a 2-1 victory against Ottawa Fury FC. With four wins in its past five games, Louisville has a big chance as it visits Charleston to not only close the gap at the top, but also maintain its two games in hand on the Eastern Conference leader.

5. Swope Park Rangers (31pts)
Last Week: W 2-1 at Tulsa Roughnecks FC; W 1-0 at LA Galaxy II
Two road victories and a three-game winning streak overall pushed the Rangers into third place in the Western Conference over the weekend, and the side is starting to look like it did when it was dominating opponents at the start of the season. With the number of attacking options available to SPR Head Coach Nikola Popovic, Rio Grande Valley FC will need to be sharp when it visits Children’s Mercy Victory Field this Saturday.

6. Sacramento Republic FC (23pts)
Last Week: D 1-1 vs. San Antonio FC
Sacramento’s three-game winning streak came to an end, but a draw against a good San Antonio side is certainly nothing to be disappointed about. With a two-week break for international exhibitions before squaring off with Seattle Sounders FC 2 on July 23, Republic FC and its fans will now sit and watch what develops around them.

Photo courtesy Sacramento Republic FC

7. Reno 1868 FC (18pts)
Last Week: D 0-0 vs. Phoenix Rising FC
1868 FC will likely be disappointed not to have come away with more than a point from its game with Phoenix Rising FC in front of a club-record crowd at 7,092 fans at Greater Nevada Field. Now in sixth in the West, 1868 FC will need to get back into the win column given the tightness of the playoff race when it faces the LA Galaxy II on Monday night.

8. Bethlehem Steel FC (12pts)
Last Week: D 1-1 vs. Richmond Kickers
Bethlehem rallied to earn a point against the Kickers thanks to a spectacular finish by Aaron Jones, but the red cards to Hugh Roberts and Cory Burke were a concern. Burke is now off for international duty with Jamaica as Bethlehem gets set to try and earn a second consecutive victory against the New York Red Bulls II.

9. Charlotte Independence (9pts)
Last Week: W 2-1 vs. Rochester Rhinos
A third successive victory sends the Independence into the Power Rankings Top 10, as the side finally seems to have found the consistency it was missing earlier in the season. The Independence have knocked in two goals in each of their past three wins, and will try to continue their upswing this week with games against the Pittsburgh Riverhounds and Saint Louis FC, both of which sit below them in the standings.

10. Tampa Bay Rowdies (7pts)
Last Week: L 2-0 at Charleston Battery
The Rowdies’ slide continued on Saturday against the Charleston Battery, and Thursday night’s visit from FC Cincinnati is not going to be an easy task either as Tampa Bay takes the national spotlight. The absence of center back Damion Lowe as he joins Jamaica for the 2017 CONCACAF Gold Cup could also be a factor over the next two weeks as the pressure behind the Rowdies in the standings builds.

Also receiving votes – Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC 3, Rochester Rhinos 2, FC Cincinnati 1

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