USL Rankings – 9 Apr 15

Who is the least in the USL East? Who is best in the USL West? You could rely on the official standings, but they really will not do you much good until the season draws to a conclusion. The clubs haven’t played the same number of games, and they haven’t played against common opponents.

You are invited to put your faith in the objective analysis at Scratching the Pitch. This isn’t the hip, advanced statistical analysis of TSR and PDO (look for that in future posts), but an algorithm has been applied to arrive at the rankings presented here. The four components of the algorithm are:

  • Match Results – Wins, losses, and draws aren’t the only thing, but they are a great place to start.
  • Strength of Opponent – As the cliche goes, you have to beat the best to be the best.
  • Match Location – It is usually more difficult to win on the road, and clubs get credit for that here.
  • Goal Differential – Beating the best is one thing. Beating them into a pulp is even better.

USL Eastern Conference

CharlestonBattery_100E1. Charleston Battery

Last Week StP Rank: N/A

USL Standings: 1 | Record: 3-0-0

 

Oatmeal power is back in Chucktown. The Battery fell behind early in their first match against Toronto FC, but came back to win in the second half and haven’t looked slowed since. A perfect record, combined with a favorable 2/1 ratio of goals scored to goals against, deservedly pushes Charleston to the top of the USL East.

Dane Kelly is a proven commodity in this league. With three goals in as many matches, Heviel Cordoves is emerging as a legitimate threat.

Up Next This Week: Charleston hosts New York Red Bulls II on Saturday.

RochesterRhinos_100E2. Rochester Rhinos

Last Week StP Rank: N/A

USL Standings: 4 | Record: 1-0-1

 

John McCarthy and JC Banks are among several assets that departed Rochester for other leagues in the off-season. What remained was a head coach that may punish players for taking shots on goal. Fortunately, a solid defensive unit also returned to the Rhinos. The Rhinos have conceded a single goal through their first two matches.

Scratching the Pitch is a big fan of aptly named defender, Tony Walls, but who will provide the offense? Christian Volesky showed promise in the first match, and Alex Dixon showed well in the second.

Up Next This Week: Rochester travels to face FC Montreal on Saturday. It could be the renewal of an old rivalry.

NewYorkRedBullsII_100E3. New York Red Bulls II

Last Week StP Rank: N/A

USL Standings: 2 | Record: 1-0-1

 

The expansion team opened the season with a pedestrian 0-0 outing against Rochester, but absolutely pasted Toronto’s USL entry in the second match. The problem for analysts is that 11 members of the RBNY first team were on loan to its USL affiliate for the contest against Toronto. Which RBNY II roster is the roster that we will see for most of the season? New York’s position in the standings and in these rankings could wildly vary, depending on the answer to that question.

Up Next This Week: Red Bulls II host Wilmington on Sunday.

LouisvilleCityFC_100E4. Louisville City FC

Last Week StP Rank: N/A

USL Standings: 3 | Record: 1-0-1

 

LCFC’s inaugural match ended in a 2-0 victory over Kings Cup rivals and fellow newcomer to the league, Saint Louis FC. The bigger result may have been the draw on the road against perennial power, Richmond Kickers. Two matches is a small sample size, but Louisville looks legit.

USL fans should already be familiar with Matt Fondy, Conor Shanosky, Juan Guzman, and Bryan Burke. By the end of the season the names of Magnus Rasmussen, Charlie Adams, and Guy Abend might also be firmly implanted in the soccer region of your brains.

Up Next This Week: Louisville gets the weekend off.

PittsburghRiverhounds_100E5. Pittsburgh Riverhounds

Last Week StP Rank: N/A

USL Standings: 5 | Record: 1-1-0

 

Rob Vincent and Kevin Kerr combined for five goals in Mark Steffens’ debut as the Riverhounds head coach. The subsequent loss to the Rhinos should not dampen spirits too much. Steffens always did a lot with relatively little while with Charlotte. Everyone should be anxious to see what he can do with more resources in Pittsburgh.

Up Next This Week: The Riverhounds will help Saint Louis bring professional soccer back to Soccer Park on Saturday.

SaintLouisFC_100E6. Saint Louis FC

Last Week StP Rank: N/A

USL Standings: 6 | Record: 1-1-0

 

The opening day shutout loss at Louisville was largely the result of poor quality in the final third. Jeremie Lynch was inserted into the lineup against Tulsa, and the script was flipped. Expect to see Lynch up top with Bryan Gaul for the foreseeable future.

Up Next This Week: Pro soccer returns to Saint Louis when the Riverhounds come to town on Saturday.

RichmondKickers_100E7. Richmond Kickers

Last Week StP Rank: N/A

USL Standings: 8 | Record: 0-0-2

 

The Kickers cannot be thrilled to come away from their first two matches with only two points. The good news is that Matthew Delicate has not stopped being Matthew Delicate. The forward has scored a goal in both of the Kickers’ contests.

Up Next This Week: A rematch with Wilmington is tap for tonight at City Stadium.

WilmingtonHammerheadsFC_100E8. Wilmington Hammerheads FC

Last Week StP Rank: N/A

USL Standings: 8 | Record: 0-0-2

 

Unlike the Kickers, the Hammerheads cannot be overly disappointed with two draws in as many outings. Carson Porter’s squad is dealing with a rash of early season injuries, but has managed to do enough earn points in each match.

Up Next This Week: The Hammerheads better get some rest after tonight’s tilt against the Kickers because they also face New York at Red Bull arena on Sunday.

TorontoFCII_100E9. Toronto FC II

Last Week StP Rank: N/A

USL Standings: 7 | Record: 1-2-0

 

A 2-0 victory over Montreal was surrounded by two difficult losses. The first was a heart-breaker in Charleston. The second was a thrashing at the hands of RBNY II.

Up Next This Week: This is a bye week for Toronto.

CharlotteIndependence_100E10. Charlotte Independence

Last Week StP Rank: N/A

USL Standings: 10 | Record: 0-1-1

 

The third independent expansion franchise has yet to earn its first victory, but that will come. It will be interesting to see what kind of chemistry develops between Jorge Herrera and Ryan Finley.

Up Next This Week: The Independence have the weekend off.

FCMontreal_100E11. FC Montreal

Last Week StP Rank: N/A

USL Standings: 11 | Record: 0-1-0

 

Montreal took nine shots compared to Toronto’s eight, but still managed to come away from the match in defeat.

Up Next This Week: Montreal hosts Rochester on Saturday.

HarrisburgCityIslanders_100E12. Harrisburg City Islanders

Last Week StP Rank: N/A

USL Standings: 12 | Record: 0-2-0

 

It has been an inauspicious start to the season for a club that reached the championship match last season. The City Islanders have been outscored 2-7 and outshot 12-27.

Up Next This Week: Harrisburg gets a week off to try and get something figured out.

USL Western Conference

SeattleSoundersFC2_100W1. Seattle Sounders FC 2

Last Week StP Rank: N/A

USL Standings: 2 | Record: 2-0-0

 

Sounders FC 2 has been an offensive juggernaut in the earliest portion of the season. The four goals scored against the defending champion Sacramento Republic FC was followed by another four against Vancouver.

Darwin Jones (3 goals) and Andy Craven (2 goals, 2 assists) have been a treat to watch in the first two matches.

Up Next This Week: Does the MLS rivalry with Portland translate to USL? Find out on Saturday at Starfire Sports Stadium.

ArizonaUnitedSC_100W2. Arizona United SC

Last Week StP Rank: N/A

USL Standings: 3 | Record: 2-0-0

 

Off-season upgrades to the roster have payed early dividends for Arizona. Two away victories have come by identical scorelines of 2-1. How much better will this club be when playmaking midfielder Jose Cuevas joins the fray?

Up Next This Week: United stays on the road to face Austin on Saturday.

PortlandTimbers2_100W3. Portland Timbers 2

Last Week StP Rank: N/A

USL Standings: 1 | Record: 2-0-1

 

T2 impressed with a 3-1 victory in its home-opener against Real Monarchs SLC. Portland did just enough to get a point in the rematch on the road. In between, the Timbers USL entrant easily handled Sacramento Republic.

Keep an eye on Kharlton Belmar. The rookie has shown the potential to score goals in droves.

Up Next This Week: T2 travels to face S2 on Saturday.

OKCEnergyFC_100W4. OKC Energy FC

Last Week StP Rank: N/A

USL Standings: 5 | Record: 1-0-1

 

Energy FC is off to a good start after a mediocre inaugural campaign in 2014. OKC started the season with a draw against in-state rivals, Tulsa. This was followed by a 2-1 victory in Colorado Springs.

Head coach Jimmy Nielsen reached back to his native Denmark to find Danni Konig. The Dane scored both goals in the win over the Switchbacks.

Up Next This Week: No games are scheduled for OKC this week.

VancouverWhitecapsFC2_100W5. Vancouver Whitecaps FC 2

Last Week StP Rank: N/A

USL Standings: 6 | Record: 1-1-0

 

After running up against the S2 buzz saw in their first outing, Vancouver rebounded with a 3-0 victory in Austin. Whitecaps FC 2 made the most of every opportunity in the Lone Star State, scoring goals in three of four shots on goal.

Up Next This Week: Vancouver travels to face Orange County on Sunday.

AustinAztex_100W6. Austin Aztex

Last Week StP Rank: N/A

USL Standings: 4 | Record: 2-1-0

 

Paul Dalglish has assembled a promising roster for the Aztex, who may deserve to be ranked a spot or two higher than they are. They might be if not for the squandered opportunities against Vancouver. Austin lost 3-0 despite having a shot advantage of 16-6 and appearing to have a substantial fraction of the possession.

Colorado Springs and Tulsa haven’t done enough yet themselves to give those Aztex victories much weight.

Up Next This Week: Austin hosts Arizona on Saturday.

SacramentoRepublicFC_100W7. Sacramento Republic FC

Last Week StP Rank: N/A

USL Standings: 7 | Record: 1-2-0

 

It’s been a tough start to the 2015 season for the 2014 champions. It would be sufficient to score two goals per game if it weren’t for the fact that Republic has given up nearly three goals per game. Some of the defensive woes should subside when Nemanja Vukovic recovers from a preseason injury.

Up Next This Week: The home-opener against LA Galaxy II is on Saturday.

RealMonarchsSLC_100W8. Real Monarchs SLC

Last Week StP Rank: N/A

USL Standings: 8 | Record: 0-1-2

 

Two goals out of three games is not going to lead to much success in USL. Yes, Salt Lake City has had to face a talented T2 squad twice in those three games. The USL West, though, does not have many patsies. The Monarchs are going to have to find a way to put a bulge in the onion sack more often if they aim find that first victory in the near future.

Up Next This Week: Salt Lake City hosts Colorado Springs on Saturday.

LAGalaxyII_100W9. LA Galaxy II

Last Week StP Rank: N/A

USL Standings: 9 | Record: 0-2-1

 

Where have you gone Curt Onalfo? After falling in the semi-finals last season, the LA Galaxy II head coach seemed determined to claim the USL crown in 2015. Zero wins in three matches is not a step in that direction.

Do not fret for Los Dos. There is enough talent on the roster to raise the Galaxy II place in the standings and the rankings in a few weeks.

Up Next This Week: LA travels north on Saturday to face a familiar foe, Sacramento.

TulsaRoughnecksFC_100W10. Tulsa Roughnecks FC

Last Week StP Rank: N/A

USL Standings: 10 | Record: 0-2-1

 

Roughnecks supporters have made a lot of noise in the stands, but the team has not been equal to the task on the pitch. A 1-1 draw started the season, but consecutive 2-0 defeats have ensued.

Up Next This Week: Tulsa has nothing on the schedule this weekend.

OrangeCountyBluesFC_100W11. Orange County Blues FC

Last Week StP Rank: N/A

USL Standings: 11 | Record: 0-1-0

 

The Blues have a new head coach with an inspiring story that is also wrought with sadness. Time will tell if Oliver Wyss can inspire the Blues to make a playoff run, or if the seats at Anteater Stadium will be filled with tears.

Up Next This Week: Orange County hosts Vancouver on Sunday.

ColoradoSpringsSwitchbacksFC_100W12. Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC

Last Week StP Rank: N/A

USL Standings: 12 | Record: 0-2-0

 

The season began with a loss on the road in Austin. Then OKC spoiled Colorado Springs’ home-opener. It doesn’t help that the Switchbacks have been outshot 28-18.

Up Next This Week: Colorado Springs travels to play Salt Lake City on Saturday.

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