USL Rankings – 29 April 2015

After the sixth week of the USL season, differences between the two conferences are starting to appear. In the East, four undefeated teams sit atop the standings and the rankings. The last undefeated team in the west lost that status in Week 6. The biggest story of the week may have been a rare victory for a visiting team at Bonney Field. Keep reading to find out how it affected the standings.

USL Eastern Conference

RochesterRhinos_100E1. Rochester Rhinos

Last Week StP Rank: 1

USL Standings: 2 | Record: 4-0-2

The Rhinos started the season with a 5-game road trip and finished it with a record of 3-0-2. Last week Rochester faced Red Bulls II in the home-opener at Sahlen’s Stadium and won 2-0. It was the fourth clean sheet posted by Rochester this season. No team has scored more than 1 goal against the Rhinos in 2015.

Up Next This Week: Back on the road to Montreal on Saturday.

CharlestonBattery_100E2. Charleston Battery

Last Week StP Rank: 2

USL Standings: 3 | Record: 4-0-1

First-half goals by Zach Prince and Maikel Chang were enough for the Battery to secure a victory at Wilmington’s Legion stadium. Odisnel Cooper came up with some quality saves at the end of the match to preserve the three points and the undefeated record.

Up Next This Week: Another road match against a long-time rival is on the docket. Charleston travels to Richmond to face the Kickers on Saturday.

RichmondKickers_100E3. Richmond Kickers

Last Week StP Rank: 3

USL Standings: 1 | Record: 4-0-2

The Kickers have strung together four consecutive wins, including 6 points from two matches at Red Bulls II and FC Montreal last week. If you haven’t been watching the Kickers’ matches, then you’ve been missing the best midfielder in the USL Eastern Conference. Brian Ownby has been magnificent in USL in 2015. He wins balls in the middle of the field, has proven adept with the ball at his feet, and has created countless opportunities for his teammates.

Keep an eye on the goalkeeper situation in Richmond. Both the Kickers and DC United, their MLS affiliate, have worn thin at the position due to injuries.

Up Next This Week: Richmond hosts Charleston on Saturday in a week 7 battle for Eastern Conference superiority.

LouisvilleCityFC_100E4. Louisville City FC

Last Week StP Rank: 4

USL Standings: 4 | Record: 2-0-3

Louisville City overcame inclement weather and a roster depleted of some of its depth due to injuries and beat Tulsa 2-0 at the ballpark. Even playing a man down for the majority of the second half, City was the team playing on the balls of their feet and forcing the action.

Up Next This Week: Louisville heads down the road to meet Charlotte on Saturday.

PittsburghRiverhounds_100E5. Pittsburgh Riverhounds

Last Week StP Rank: 5

USL Standings: 5 | Record: 2-1-2

Pittsburgh looked good before going up a man. Then they looked phenomenal. The result was a 5-1 drubbing of Toronto FC II. Rob Vincent scored two goals and Tyler Pasher netted one against his former club. Kevin Kerr (1G, 2A) was the StP man of the match.

Up Next This Week: It’s off to Red Bull Arena for a contest against New York on Sunday.

SaintLouisFC_100E6. Saint Louis FC

Last Week StP Rank: 8

USL Standings: 6 | Record: 2-2-1

Saint Louis fell behind early to Energy FC, but bounced back to take the lead by half. Jamiel Hardware opened his account with Saint Louis. Soccer fans in the gateway city would like to see Hardware start on a hot streak and bring some life a Saint Louis attack that has been struggling to produce.

Up Next This Week: Saint Louis has the week off.

WilmingtonHammerheadsFC_100E7. Wilmington Hammerheads FC

Last Week StP Rank: 6

USL Standings: 7 | Record: 1-2-2

The Hammerheads couldn’t quite complete the comeback against Charleston. On the bright side, key names are starting to come back to the lineup after a rash of preseason and early season injuries.

Up Next This Week: Wilmington hosts the City Islanders on Saturday. The Hammerheads will need to take all three points from a struggling Harrisburg side in order to maintain its place in the pecking order.

NewYorkRedBullsII_100E8. New York Red Bulls II

Last Week StP Rank: 8

USL Standings: 8 | Record: 1-3-2

It was a rough week for Red Bulls II, losing two matches to Rochester and Richmond. New York has posted a record of 0-2-1 against the top three teams in the Eastern Conference.

Up Next This Week: Red Bulls II begin a 4-game home stand on Saturday. First up is Pittsburgh.

HarrisburgCityIslanders_100E9. Harrisburg City Islanders

Last Week StP Rank: 10

USL Standings: 9 | Record: 1-2-1

The City Islanders couldn’t get much going in the first half against Charlotte, but appeared to be more organized and energized after the break. Dante Leverock headed in a corner in the 58th minute, and the Hammerheads left Charlotte with a point from the 1-1 draw.

Up Next This Week: Harrisburg will head to Wilmington for a game against the Hammerheads.

TorontoFCII_100E10. Toronto FC II

Last Week StP Rank: 9

USL Standings: 10 | Record: 1-3-1

Toronto appeared ready to keep pace with the Riverhounds and held a 1-0 advantage until the 41st minute. Then Tarik Robertson was sent off, and the Riverhounds unleashed five unanswered goals.

Up Next This Week: Toronto FC II gets a week off before resuming the 8-match slate of games away from home to start the season.

CharlotteIndependence_100E11. Charlotte Independence

Last Week StP Rank: 11

USL Standings: 11 | Record: 0-2-2

The Independence controlled the first 45 minutes of the match against Harrisburg, and the home team created several scoring opportunities. Most of those opportunities, though, were squandered, which provided the City Islanders the chance to equalize in the second half.

Up Next This Week: Charlotte bids adieu to Transamerica Field when the Independence hosts Louisville on Saturday.

FCMontreal_100E12. FC Montreal

Last Week StP Rank: 12

USL Standings: 12 | Record: 0-4-0

Even the presence of Kenny Cooper was not enough to jump start the FC Montreal attack against the Richmond Kickers. A picture of the Montreal offense is displayed under the entry for paltry in the dictionary. Montreal has managed a single meager goal in four matches.

Up Next This Week: Montreal hosts Rochester at the turf field adjacent to Stade Saputo on Saturday.

USL Western Conference

OrangeCountyBluesFC_100W1. Orange County Blues FC

Last Week StP Rank: 5

USL Standings: 4 | Record: 3-1-0

The Blues have been impressive over the last few weeks, including last week’s shocker against Sacramento at a rain-soaked Bonney Field. Orange County made the most of their attacking opportunities, scoring on either side of the halftime break. The defense, led by Brenton Griffiths, were the stars of the match. Time after time, the Blues turned away Sacramento’s efforts to draw level.

Up Next This Week: Orange County tries to make it four in a row when they travel to face Seattle on Friday. A chance at five would then loom at Portland on Sunday. (Realistically, four points would be a very successful road trip this weekend.)

ArizonaUnitedSC_100W2. Arizona United SC

Last Week StP Rank: 2

USL Standings: 5 | Record: 3-2-0

The club that started the season on a hot streak has begun to cool somewhat. Arizona appeared more organized in the 2-0 loss in their home opener against Portland than they did at Orange County the prior week, but United did little to threaten the T2 keeper.

Up Next This Week: United gets a chance to right the ship against Colorado Springs in Scottsdale on Saturday.

OKCEnergyFC_100W3. OKC Energy FC

Last Week StP Rank: 1

USL Standings: 7 | Record: 2-1-1

The last undefeated team in the Western Conference is undefeated no more. Chuy Sanchez provided an early lead for OKC, but Energy FC was on the wrong end of the scoreline by half. The Energy attack could not break through the Saint Louis defense in the second period, mounting an anemic three shots.

Up Next This Week: OKC travels to meet Austin on Friday evening.

SeattleSoundersFC2_100W4. Seattle Sounders FC 2

Last Week StP Rank: 3

USL Standings: 2 | Record: 3-2-1

S2 has not fared as well away from home as the club has in the friendly confines of Starfire. A 1-1 draw in Vancouver was the third consecutive match without a win for a club that was setting the league on fire in the first few weeks of the season.

Up Next This Week: Seattle hosts upstart OC Blues FC on Friday.

SacramentoRepublicFC_100W5. Sacramento Republic FC

Last Week StP Rank: 4

USL Standings: 1 | Record: 4-3-0

StP was ready to enjoy the Rodrigo Lopez show when Sacramento Republic FC hosted Orange County. The Blues, however, did a good job of bottling up Lopez and the rest of the SAC attack. This was only the second loss for the Republic at Bonney in 17 matches.

Up Next This Week: Sacramento will try to hold onto first place when they travel to face Real Monarchs on Wednesday.

PortlandTimbers2_100W6. Portland Timbers 2

Last Week StP Rank: 8

USL Standings: 3 | Record: 3-2-1

A brace by Kharlton Belmar buckled the hopes of hosts Arizona United. T2 are 3-0-0 in matches when Belmar scores a goal. The club is 0-2-1 when Belmar does not find the back of the net.

Up Next This Week: Portland gets a chance to host a tired Orange County club on Sunday.

AustinAztex_100W7. Austin Aztex

Last Week StP Rank: 7

USL Standings: 6 | Record: 3-3-0

Kris Tyrpak scored an early goal for the Aztex and Austin held on for a 1-0 win against Colorado Springs. Cody Laurendi came up with five saves in the second half to keep a clean sheet and earn the three points.

Up Next This Week: Austin hosts OKC on Friday.

ColoradoSpringsSwitchbacksFC_100W8. Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC

Last Week StP Rank: 6

USL Standings: 9 | Record: 2-3-0

Colorado Springs fell 1-0 in Austin. The Switchbacks appear to have difficulty producing results against teams not named Real Monarchs.

Up Next This Week: Colorado Springs travels to Arizona for a match against United on Saturday.

LAGalaxyII_100W9. LA Galaxy II

Last Week StP Rank: 11

USL Standings: 8 | Record: 2-3-1

A 1-0 victory at Real Monarchs is two wins in a row for Los Dos, which stumbled out of the gates in 2015.

Up Next This Week: Los Angeles hosts Vancouver on Sunday.

VancouverWhitecapsFC2_100W10. Vancouver Whitecaps FC 2

Last Week StP Rank: 10

USL Standings: 10 | Record: 1-3-2

When Seattle came to town last week, Vancouver was equal to the task. Equal number of shots. Equal number of saves. Equal number of corner kicks. Equal number of goals.

Up Next This Week: The Whitecaps will hop down to LA for a match against Los Dos on Sunday.

TulsaRoughnecksFC_100W11. Tulsa Roughnecks FC

Last Week StP Rank: 9

USL Standings: 11 | Record: 1-3-1

David Irving has to be frustrated that his team could not find the equalizer against Louisville with a man advantage. He has to be beside himself that Louisville doubled their lead while down a man. Perhaps this was a hangover from the exciting victory against Seattle?

Up Next This Week: The Roughnecks get a week away from competition to try to figure it out.

RealMonarchsSLC_100W12. Real Monarchs SLC

Last Week StP Rank: 12

USL Standings: 12 | Record: 0-4-2

After being embarrassed by Colorado Springs two weeks ago, the Monarchs rebounded and played respectably against Los Angeles last week. Alas, it was not enough to earn the first win of the season.

Up Next This Week: The Monarchs host Sacramento on Wednesday night.

Explaining the Rankings

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 cliché 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.

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