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USL Power Rankings – Week 31

By Staff, 10/15/18, 8:00PM EDT


FCC’s the favorite, but who’s going to be the biggest challenger?

Wherever you look, you’re going to see the opinion that FC Cincinnati is the favorite to win the 2018 USL Cup, and that’s also true of the final Power Rankings of the season where the 2018 USL Regular Season champions are the unanimous No. 1 after its back-to-back draws to close the season left Head Coach Alan Koch’s side with one more entry into the USL record book.

The rest of this week’s rankings, meanwhile, stack up as both a predictor of which sides could be the biggest challengers to Cincinnati’s goal of becoming the fourth team to win both the USL Regular Season Championship and the USL Cup, and a barometer of which teams should be on upset-alert this weekend.

For challengers, the two teams you’d expect lead the way with defending USL Cup champion Louisville City FC and No. 1-seed in the Western Conference Orange County SC sitting tied for second place in this week’s rankings. Sacramento Republic FC and Phoenix Rising FC aren’t far behind, with Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC the dark horse pick in the Eastern Conference.

On the other hand, the presence of Reno 1868 FC and its seven-game winning streak at No. 6 in this week’s rankings should be a heads-up to Real Monarchs SLC, which while holding homefield advantage in the Western Conference Quarterfinals clash between the clubs sits at No. 12 going into Saturday afternoon’s clash at Zions Bank Stadium. The voting panel appears to be expecting close contests in the middle of the Eastern Conference bracket with the New York Red Bulls II coming in ahead of playoff opponent the Charleston Battery.

The four-person voting panel tabulates 16 points for first-place team votes, 15 points to the second-place team and so forth to one point for 16th place. The accrued points among the group determines the final ranking.






1 FC Cincinnati
64 pts | (23-3-8)
Week 31: T, 3-3 @NSH
Playoffs, Rd. 1: NSH

Last Week: 1
Cincinnati accomplished everything it hoped to in the regular season. Now the hunt for a USL Cup begins against Nashville, a side it played even in three meetings this season.
T-2 Louisville City FC
56 pts | (19-6-9)
Week 31: W, 2-1 NC, W, 1-0 IND
Playoffs, Rd. 1: IND
Last Week: 4
Louisville’s six-game winning streak is the longest as the playoffs begin, and if there’s a team that knows how to win at Nippert Stadium should it come to that in the Eastern Conference Final, the defending champion does.
T-2 Orange County SC
56 pts | (20-8-6)
Week 31: L, 1-3 @RNO
Playoffs, Rd. 1: STL

Last Week: T-2
A loss to Reno 1868 FC didn’t cost Orange County SC the No. 1 seed in the West, but it’s going to have to dodge the dubious history of sitting in that position as it takes on Saint Louis FC.
4 Sacramento Republic FC
51 pts | (19-7-8)
Week 31: W, 1-0 LV
Playoffs, Rd. 1: SPR
Last Week: 6
There wasn’t a better feel-good story than Matthew Harding this weekend, and Republic FC is on a roll going into the postseason with four consecutive wins and the No. 2 seed in hand.
5 Phoenix Rising FC
49 pts | (19-9-6)
Week 31: L, 2-5 @LV, L, 0-1 POR
Playoffs, Rd. 1: POR
Last Week: T-2
Some teams wouldn’t look forward to an immediate rematch with the side it faced in the last game of the regular season to open the playoffs, but Phoenix must be thinking it won’t miss its chances against Portland Timbers 2 a second time around.
6 Reno 1868 FC
45 pts | (16-7-11)
Week 31: W, 3-1 OC
Playoffs, Rd. 1: @SLC
Last Week: 7
Reno rolled to lucky number seven undefeated to end the regular season with an impressive win against Orange County SC. Pull an upset of Real Monarchs SLC and it could be headed for the chance at a repeat performance.
7 Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC
38 pts | (15-5-14)
Week 31: T, 1-1 @ATL, L, 1-2 @NY
Playoffs, Rd. 1: BST
Last Week: 5
The Hounds won’t have been happy to end the season on a four-game winless streak, and that could bring focus ahead of a clash with Pennsylvania rival Bethlehem Steel FC.
T-8 Bethlehem Steel FC
27 pts | (14-12-8)
Week 31: W, 1-0 TBR
Playoffs, Rd. 1: @PGH
Last Week: 11
Bethlehem Head Coach Brendan Burke was grateful to the Tampa Bay Rowdies for the test they gave his side on Sunday, as Steel FC can now try to apply what it learned to a huge tilt with Pittsburgh.
T-8 New York Red Bulls II
27 pts | (13-8-13)
Week 31: W, 3-1 @PEN, W, 2-1 PGH
Playoffs, Rd. 1: @CHS
Last Week: 16
Just look who got hot to end the regular season. The Red Bulls II are undefeated in six and have taken three consecutive victories, and some will have memories of last season’s playoff win in Charleston.
T-8 Portland Timbers 2
27 pts | (17-13-4)
Week 31: W, 1-0 @PHX
Playoffs, Rd. 1: @PHX
Last Week: 10
Portland grabbed a late victory against Phoenix on Saturday night, and now gets a return trip to the desert for its first postseason contest. T2 will know it needs to give up fewer chances this time around to have a chance to advance.
11 Charleston Battery
26 pts | (14-6-14)
Week 31: W, 2-0 @OTT
Playoffs, Rd. 1: NY
Last Week: T-8
The Battery dashed Ottawa Fury FC’s playoff chances on Saturday afternoon, and now will try to get revenge on the Red Bulls II for their victory at MUSC Health Stadium last postseason.
12 Real Monarchs SLC
23 pts | (19-12-3)
Week 31: W, 1-0 @FRS
Playoffs, Rd. 1: RNO
Last Week: 13
Back-to-back wins to close the season were a big positive for the Monarchs as it held onto homefield advantage to kick off the postseason. Can it maintain that against a side it has already taken victory against at home this season?
13 Swope Park Rangers
20 pts | (15-11-8)
Week 31: W, 5-1 LA
Playoffs, Rd. 1: @SAC
Last Week: T-14
The narrative wouldn’t favor the Rangers, whose six playoff victories in the past two seasons have all come on home turf. A late-season defeat at Sacramento doesn’t inspire hope, either.
14 Indy Eleven
15 pts | (13-11-10)
Week 31: L, 0-1 @LOU
Playoffs, Rd. 1: @LOU
Last Week: T-8
Indy has gone 1-1-1 against Louisville City FC this season, but three defeats in the last five games of the regular season that included one to LouCity isn’t the sort of form a team enters the postseason in expecting success.
15 Nashville SC
13 pts | (12-9-13)
Week 31: T, 2-2 TOR, T, 3-3 CIN
Playoffs, Rd. 1: @CIN
Last Week: 12
Who’s going to knock off the regular-season champions? It sure could be the team that’s played them to three consecutive draws this year and will be looking to make its own history at Nippert Stadium on Saturday.
16 Saint Louis FC
7 pts | (14-9-11)
Week 31: W, 1-0 TUL, T, 0-0 OKC
Playoffs, Rd. 1: @OC
Last Week: T-14
Saint Louis is in the playoffs for the first time, and that’s a great story, but continuing the run of Western Conference No. 1-seeds falling in their first postseason outing? That’s a better one.

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