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USL Championship Power Rankings – Week 6

By USLChampionship.com Staff, 06/02/21, 1:30PM EDT

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Tampa Bay takes shot at matching historic start to the season in two-game week

Hello, and welcome to the latest edition of the Championship’s Power Rankings.

It’s been nine years since it happened last, but the Tampa Bay Rowdies this week have a chance to match the best start to a Championship season as they head out on the road for the first time in 2021.

With a four-game winning streak to start the season, the No. 1-ranked Rowdies have now matched the best starts to a season since the Championship’s early years, and now they have the six-game winning streaks built by the Richmond Kickers (2011) and Rochester Rhinos (2012) in their sights.

It’s certainly a pretty different league now than the Championship was back then. The Kickers and Rhinos had fewer teams to tackle each season, and the schedules were a little more idiosyncratic than they tend to be nowadays. While the Rowdies did play their first four games at home, the Kickers got five of their first six at City Stadium, while the Rhinos began with five out of six on the road, including a two-game set with what became Orange County SC to open the season stretched over six days as the Rhinos remained out west to train in the California weather between games.

As they pursue those clubs, the Rowdies have good recent history in their opponents this week. They won for the first time on the road against the Red Bulls II to start last season, and have not lost away to the Independence previously in addition to the 3-0 victory they took when the sides met on May 1 to open the season. With the all-around squad Head Coach Neill Collins has built – bolstered by the arrival on loan today of forward Foster Langsdorf from Minnesota United FC – Tampa Bay is again one of the favorites for the title.

If they can win out this week, though, there could be more history waiting for the side as this season progresses.

Here’s how the rest of the big picture looks today. As always, feel free to come and yell at me on Twitter (@NJEMurray).

Atlanta United 2 Austin Bold FC Birmingham Legion FC Charleston Battery Charlotte Independence Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC El Paso Locomotive FC
Hartford Athletic Indy Eleven LA Galaxy II Las Vegas Lights FC Loudoun United FC Louisville City FC Memphis 901 FC
The Miami FC New Mexico United New York Red Bulls II Oakland Roots SC OKC Energy FC Orange County SC Phoenix Rising FC
Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC Real Monarchs SLC Rio Grande Valley FC Sacramento Republic FC San Antonio FC San Diego Loyal SC Sporting KC II
Tacoma Defiance Tampa Bay Rowdies FC Tulsa

Biggest Movers

Rank

 

Team

Change

Summary

1 Tampa Bay Rowdies
(4-0-0)
Week 7: @ NY, @ CLT

Last Week:
1
The Rowdies took their first road win against the New York Red Bulls II in four tries to kick off the 2020 season. They’ll be hoping for the same result on Wednesday before moving on to Charlotte’s home opener.
2 Phoenix Rising FC
(4-1-0)
Week 7: v. SD
1
Last Week:
3
Santi Moar is entering historic territory with six consecutive regular season games with a goal. He’ll be looking to continue that streak as Phoenix plays host to San Diego Loyal SC for a second time this season on Saturday.
3 El Paso Locomotive FC
(1-0-2)
Week 7: @ ATX
1
Last Week:
2
El Paso racked up six shots on goal against Sporting Kansas City II on Sunday afternoon but couldn’t find a breakthrough. That puts a little more pressure on Thursday’s visit to Austin to take advantage of the games in hand on the Mountain’s frontrunners.
4 Indy Eleven
(3-1-0)
Week 7: v. OKC, v. MEM
3
Last Week:
7
The Boys in Blue finally got that victory against Louisville City FC, and now get two winnable home games against OKC Energy FC and Memphis 901 FC that can help build the side’s momentum.
5 Rio Grande Valley FC
(3-1-1)
Week 7: @ MIA
1
Last Week:
6
The Toros looked like they were going to come up empty in San Antonio FC until Juan Azocar’s stunning finish on Saturday night that earned a draw that will definitely have felt like a win against San Antonio FC.
6 Louisville City FC
(2-1-1)
Week 7: @ ATL
2
Last Week:
4
It’s rare to see a team as good as Louisville make the sort of mistake that led to its demise on Saturday night. That it came against the side’s biggest rival will have only made the hurt worse in the locker room.
7 San Antonio FC
(2-1-2)
Week 7: @ COS
1
Last Week:
8
That was a gut-punch of a result against the Toros for San Antonio, which probably had created enough chances to put the game away prior to RGVFC’s late equalizer. There’s a lesson there, and I think SAFC’s going to learn from it.
8 New Mexico United
(2-2-1)
Week 7: @ SLC
3
Last Week:
5
The lack of energy New Mexico showed against Loudoun was a major surprise. You can gripe about officiating decisions, but Saturday’s result was also about United not bringing the energy we’ve been accustomed to.
9 FC Tulsa
(3-1-0)
Week 7: @SKC, @BHM

Last Week:
9
Welcome back to the arena, FC Tulsa, hope you’re rested up for a two-game week on the road against Sporting Kansas City II and Birmingham Legion FC.
10 Birmingham Legion FC
(3-2-1)
Week 7: v. TUL
6
Last Week:
16
Birmingham picked up the pace last week with two consecutive wins, and Legion FC has now notched three shutouts in five games. Sunday’s showdown with Tulsa should be a must-see.
11 The Miami FC
(3-2-0)
Week 7: v. RGV
6
Last Week:
17
That was about as good a performance as Miami has put in this season against the Independence, and it got rightly rewarded for it. The side will have to get to work without five players on international duty this week, though, against a good Rio Grande Valley FC side.
12 Hartford Athletic
(2-0-1)
Week 7: v. NY

Last Week:
12
Take 2 for the Athletic’s return home after Friday’s postponement against the Monarchs, so instead it will be a visit from the Red Bulls II that sees Hartford return to action on home turf.
13 Sacramento Republic FC
(2-2-0)
Week 7: v. OAK, v. OC
2
Last Week:
11
Republic FC hasn’t suffered back-to-back defeats under Head Coach Mark Briggs previous to Saturday night, it’s going to need a serious response to avoid its first three-game losing streak since 2017 as it hosts Oakland on Wednesday night.
14 Tacoma Defiance
(2-0-1)
Week 7: @ LV

Last Week:
14
The weather in Austin put paid to the Defiance’s game last week, so they’ll look to continue their undefeated start in Las Vegas on Saturday night instead.
15 LA Galaxy II
(3-2-2)
Week 7: @ CHS
4
Last Week:
19
The Galaxy II showed once again the sort of firepower they possess if you give them half a chance in their 4-3 win vs. Orange County. Los Dos now lead the Championship with 15 goals this season and sit tied for third with a 23 percent shot conversion rate.
16 Orange County SC
(1-2-0)
Week 7: @ SAC
6
Last Week:
10
The comeback effort against the Galaxy II was impressive, but it took too much out of OCSC to close out the game. Head Coach Braeden Cloutier will be looking for a much better start against Sacramento on Saturday.
17 Atlanta United 2
(2-2-2)
Week 7: v. LOU
2
Last Week:
15
Atlanta’s undefeated streak came to an end at the hands of Birmingham Legion FC, and this week it’s saying goodbye to interim Head Coach Tony Annan. He’s left whoever takes over a solid position in the Central.
18 Charlotte Independence
(2-2-0)
Week 7: v. TBR
5
Last Week:
13
The Independence admitted to their lackluster performance in Miami, although Jake Areman’s free kick sparkled. A much better effort should be expected as the side opens its new home against the Rowdies on Saturday.
19 Oakland Roots SC
(1-1-0)
Week 7: @ SAC
1
Last Week:
18
Oakland gets its first crack at Sacramento Republic FC on Wednesday night, and can add to its new NorCal rival’s recent struggles. Keep an eye on former Sacramento man Tyler Blackwood as he returns to Heart Health Park.
20 Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC
(1-2-1)
Week 7: @ LDN, v. ATX
2
Last Week:
22
That was much more like it by the Hounds against the Red Bulls II, and with games this week against Loudoun United FC – which they’re 5-0-0 against all-time – and Austin Bold FC, there’s a chance to make a serious move this week.
21 Austin Bold FC
(1-1-1)
Week 7: v. ELP, @ PIT
2
Last Week:
23
Austin got its first win on the board against the Monarchs before Sunday’s washout against Tacoma. Now El Paso arrives on Thursday night for what’s probably the biggest test of the season so far for Head Coach Marcelo Serrano’s squad.
22 Charleston Battery
(0-1-2)
Week 7: v. LA
1
Last Week:
21
The Battery are somehow at the bottom of the Atlantic Division as they look for their first win on Friday night. The good news is they won the only prior meeting with the LA Galaxy II in 2014, but this Los Dos side has a pretty potent attack.
23 Loudoun United FC
(1-2-0)
Week 7: v. PIT
4
Last Week:
27
After two games seeing pretty much no breaks go its way, Loudoun ended up getting a great goal and some good fortune in New Mexico. Now it gets a chance to end its poor run against the Hounds on home turf.
24 New York Red Bulls II
(1-3-2)
Week 7: v. TBR, @ HFD
4
Last Week:
20
Red Bulls II games are almost always entertaining not just because of their attacking principles, but also because of their defensive shortcomings. The club’s mark of 9.05 Expected Goals Against is fifth-highest in the league.
25 Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC
(1-2-0)
Week 7: v. SA
1
Last Week:
24
The Switchbacks get back into action with a visit from San Antonio FC and a chance to show they’ve progressed from the three-goal defeat they suffered in the opening game of the season.
26 San Diego Loyal SC
(1-4-0)
Week 7: @ PHX
4
Last Week:
30
Victory at last for SD Loyal thanks to Corey Hertzog’s 68th regular-season goal in the Championship, and now a return trip to Phoenix Rising FC on Saturday where the side will want to give a much better account of itself than on April 30.
27 Memphis 901 FC
(0-1-2)
Week 7: @ IND
2
Last Week:
25
Memphis came so close to finding a winner against OKC Energy FC on Saturday night but was denied. Now it gets two tough road games against Indy Eleven and Louisville City FC before its home opener.
28 Sporting Kansas City II
(0-3-3)
Week 7: v. TUL
1
Last Week:
29
Sporting showed its going to be a tough test at times for visiting sides, but the consistency to be a playoff contender in a stacked Central Division still isn’t there yet.
29 OKC Energy FC
(0-3-3)
Week 7: @ IND
1
Last Week:
28
Energy FC got its first shutout of the season on Saturday night against Memphis, but it’s still looking for that first win ahead of Wednesday night’s visit to Indy Eleven.
30 Real Monarchs SLC
(0-2-2)
Week 7: v. NM
4
Last Week:
26
The Monarchs still can’t find the win column after last week’s trip to Austin, even though they hit the woodwork twice, and now they get a visit from a New Mexico side that’s going to have a point to prove on Friday night.
31 Las Vegas Lights FC
(0-4-0)
Week 7: v. TAC

Last Week:
31
Lights FC couldn’t hold on for a point in San Diego, and Tacoma is no slouch as it heads to Cashman Field this Saturday. Will the energy of the crowd and a home opener rouse Las Vegas and get a positive result?

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