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USL Power Rankings – Week 4

By NICHOLAS MURRAY -, 04/17/17, 4:21PM EDT


Rangers earn unanimous No. 1 spot, battle for second remains tight

After others had grabbed votes away over the past two weeks, the Swope Park Rangers reasserted their hold on the top spot in the Power Rankings this week. A pair of impressive wins by Louisville City FC and San Antonio FC pushed both sides into a battle for second place that has them separated by just a point.

Swope Park’s 1-0 win against Sacramento Republic FC was arguably the on-field headline of the week and moved the club within range of a notable USL record. The Rangers are only the third team to record a streak of at least seven consecutive regular-season wins in league history and sit one behind Orlando City SC in 2014 for the all-time high of eight. With a visit to Phoenix coming up this weekend, the Rangers have some history to play for as they aim to preserve their perfect start.

Louisville brought the Tampa Bay Rowdies’ perfect start to an end in front of 9,074 fans at Slugger Field, but are edged into the No. 3 spot by San Antonio FC, which knocked in four goals against Reno to continue its ascent up not only the Western Conference standings, but also the Power Rankings.

Meanwhile, FC Cincinnati finds its place back in the Top 10. With games against No. 4 Tampa Bay and No. 3 Louisville coming up this week, how high might Head Coach Alan Koch’s side rise with two more performances like that against Saint Louis?

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. Swope Park Rangers (50pts)
Last Week: W 1-0 vs. Sacramento Republic FC
The Swope Park Rangers continued their perfect start and sit at the top of all five of the ballots after their victory against Republic FC. The Rangers not only earned a victory; they managed to control the majority of possession against a Sacramento side that had been dominating teams in that category. Sunday’s game with Phoenix is now looking like a fascinating prospect.

Photo courtesy Nick Tre. Smith / Swope Park Rangers

2. San Antonio FC (43pts)
Last Week: W 4-0 vs. Reno 1868 FC
San Antonio might have been a little flattered by the final score, but it was lethal in front of goal when it counted to rack up a third win out of four to end its three-game home stand. The manner in which the side is able to attack with its speed makes the first goal maybe even more crucial for its opponents. When teams are forced to press, SAFC has been lethal on the counter-attack so far this season.

3. Louisville City FC (42pts)
Last Week: W 2-1 vs. Tampa Bay Rowdies
The only way Louisville’s week could have gone any better would have been if Tampa Bay’s Martin Paterson hadn’t scored with a minute to go to set up a nervy few minutes of stoppage time, but the new Eastern Conference leader didn’t falter to hand the Rowdies their first defeat. City wasn’t at its sharpest overall, but with the most points through four games in its history, and a week to prepare for its visit to Cincinnati, Head Coach James O’Connor’s side is looking in very good shape.

4. Tampa Bay Rowdies (33pts)
Last Week: L 2-1 at Louisville City FC
The Rowdies fall, but not too far, after their first loss of the season as they proved a solid matchup for one of the league’s main contenders over the past two seasons. The agonizing shot off the post by Deshorn Brown moments before Cameron Lancaster’s goal will be the big what-if the side will wonder about, but it’ll have to shake the result off quickly as it visits Cincinnati on Wednesday, and then hosts Charleston on Saturday night.

5. Charleston Battery (29pts)
Last Week: W 5-0 vs. Rochester Rhinos
The Battery accomplished something that hadn’t been achieved since early in the 2013 season on Saturday as it became the first side to knock five goals past the Rochester Rhinos at MUSC Health Stadium. Romario Williams took the headlines with a hat trick as Charleston bounced back in emphatic fashion to return close to the top of the East, and also hand the Rhinos their first loss of the new campaign.

Photo courtesy Zach Bland / Charleston Battery

6. Sacramento Republic FC (23pts)
Last Week: L 1-0 at OKC Energy FC; L 1-0 at Swope Park Rangers
Sacramento took a hit in the standings this week with their back-to-back defeats, but the manner in which Republic FC succumbed offered a reprieve in the Power Rankings. It took a miraculous goal against Energy FC to end a three-game winning streak to start the season, and while Republic FC was out-possessed and out-passed by Swope Park on Saturday, it certainly wasn’t outclassed. A return home to Papa Murphy’s Park on Saturday will be a big chance to arrest the slide.

7. Real Monarchs SLC (21pts)
Last Week: L 2-1 at Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC
The Monarchs fell for the first time this season, but have to feel a little unfortunate they weren’t able to find an equalizer against the Switchbacks as they banged on the door relentlessly at Weidner Field. The side will definitely miss the influence of Charlie Adams, though, in its next outing after his sending off late in the game for a second yellow card as the Monarchs head to face Seattle this weekend.

8. Saint Louis FC (13pts)
Last Week: W 2-1 at Pittsburgh Riverhounds; L 4-0 at FC Cincinnati
An up-and-down week sees Saint Louis slide three places in the Power Rankings, but the team’s resume still holds up solidly even despite Saturday’s defeat to stay in the Top 10. Saint Louis will need to bounce back well on Saturday night to show that the loss to Cincinnati was a blip, and not the start of something more. Facing a Charlotte side that is still looking for its first win may be trickier than it sounds, but a return home should be a nice boost for the squad after its travels last week.

9. FC Cincinnati (11pts)
Last Week: W 4-0 vs. Saint Louis FC
FC Cincinnati opened its three-game gauntlet to kick off its home slate in fine style with Djiby Fall’s four-goal outing a historic moment for the club as 23,144 fans packed into Nippert Stadium to set a USL home-opener record. After evening its record for the season, FCC will welcome the Tampa Bay Rowdies and Louisville City FC over the next five days looking to assert its credentials as a leading contender in the Eastern Conference.

Photo courtesy FC Cincinnati

10. New York Red Bulls II (7pts)
Last Week: W 3-1 vs. Orlando City B
Led by Vincent Bezecourt, the Red Bulls II got back on a winning track after suffering only their fifth two-game losing streak in club history by defeating Orlando City B in solid fashion on Friday night. There are still some questions about the solidity of the side’s defense, but as long as New York can keep knocking in goals consistently it should remain in solid contention in the defense of its title.

Also receiving votes – Rio Grande Valley FC 2, Tulsa Roughnecks FC 1

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