Power Rankings Week 33, Season Grades

This method of ranking team performance factors in point per game, strength of schedule, and goal difference. This isn't an attempt to predict the final table, but rather a way to measure a team's form over the course of the season.


The 2019 USL Championship regular season is over. Playoff teams have been decided and the play in round begins on Wednesday. This will be it for our 2019 Power Rankings. We'll include a season grade for each team.

EASTERN CONFERENCE

  1. Nashville SC (↔): Wrapped up the regular season with a 3-0 home win over Atlanta United 2 to end up in second place. Finished 2019 with the league's best defense, best away record, and most wins. Look like a side built for a playoff run. SEASON GRADE: A

  2. Pittsburgh Riverhounds (↑2): Won the Eastern Conference with a late winner in Birmingham. Outperformed plenty of pre-season favorites, and surprisingly put together one of the most dangerous attacks in the conference. They'll have home field advantage through the playoffs, and they're in a great run of form. SEASON GRADE: A+

  3. Tampa Bay Rowdies (↔): Finished fifth in the East after battling New York for the top spot for most of the season. Surprisingly ended up as the 8th best side at home, but fortunately for them they'll be starting their playoff run on the road, going up against Louisville City. SEASON GRADE: B

  4. NYRB II (↓2): After looking like the best side in the conference for most of the season, they really gave away the regular season title at the end, winning just one of their final seven matches. They boast the best attack in the East, but have conceded joint-most goals of any playoff side. However, they're facing off against Indy Eleven's sub-par attack, and are capable of hanging a couple goals on most sides in the playoffs. SEASON GRADE: B-

  5. Louisville City FC (↑1): Bounced back pretty remarkably after a poor start to the season, securing a home playoff match on the last day of the season. Hard to bet against the defending champions at home in a single elimination match. They'll face off against Tampa Bay Rowdies on Saturday. SEASON GRADE: B+

  6. North Carolina FC (↑1): Under new manager Dave Sarachan, they challenged for a top 4 spot for most of the season before finishing in seventh. They're not an eye catching side, but they're able to grind out results and could cause problems in the postseason. SEASON GRADE: B-

  7. Indy Eleven (↓2): One of the favorites to win the East pre-season, they consistently struggled to score goals - their 48 goals for are the lowest in the top eight. Finished third in the East, but it still feels like they missed out on a lot of potential. Going up against a high-octane attack in New York on Saturday looks like a struggle for a side that doesn't want to get caught up in a shootout. SEASON GRADE: B-

  8. Ottawa Fury FC (↔): Finished in 8th in the table and the power rankings. They're not a spectacular side to watch, but the spine of their team is really solid and they get a lot of help from the fullbacks. SEASON GRADE: C+

  9. Charleston Battery (↑1): Started the season really brightly, and looked like being a surprise contender for a while. Faded down the stretch, and they struggle to score against good defenses. Going on the road to Ottawa in a single elimination match will be a tough test. SEASON GRADE: C-

  10. Saint Louis FC (↔): Looked like the class of the East for the first several weeks. They defend well but struggle to score, and that killed them down the stretch. Took one point from their last six matches to choke away a playoff berth. SEASON GRADE: D+

  11. Loudoun United FC (↑1): Finished the season on a hot streak after a poor start, winning their last four matches, including a 7-3 win over New York on the last day of the season. Showed promising signs for an expansion side and look capable of contending next year. SEASON GRADE: C

  12. Charlotte Independence (↑1): Finished the season strong after being eliminated from playoff contention quite early. If they had found their end-of-season form earlier, they could have caused problems. Never lived up to their potential. SEASON GRADE: D+

  13. Birmingham Legion FC (↑2): Qualified for the playoffs in their first year as a club, despite finishing the season with a -16 goal difference and the worst attack in the Conference. They're a pretty decent side on the road (5W-4D-8L), so don't rule out an upset against North Carolina on Wednesday. SEASON GRADE: C+

  14. Memphis 901 FC (↔): Came close to squeezing into the postseason, but losing their last four matches by a combined score of 8-2 killed that dream. They showed signs of being playoff calibre team at points, but ultimately it wasn't enough. SEASON GRADE: D+

  15. Bethlehem Steel (↑1): Finished in 16th with the worst home record in the East, which isn't a shock considering their facility issues this year. An outside contender at the start of the season, they never seriously looked like challenging for a playoff spot. SEASON GRADE: D

  16. Atlanta United 2 (↑1): Finished in 14th, and played spoiler at the end, taking 15 points from their final eight matches, including three wins over playoff sides. It's hard to be competitive with a -32 goal difference, though. SEASON GRADE: D

  17. Hartford Athletic (↑1): It was a rough year for the first-year side, who showed occasional flashes of quality, but were thwarted by a defense that hemorrhaged goals. They have quality in the final third (they scored more goals than Indy Eleven), but need to overhaul their backline in the offseason to have a chance at improvement. SEASON GRADE: D-

  18. Swope Park Rangers (↔): Two years after back-to-back USL Cup appearances, their switch to the Eastern Conference did not go as planned, as they finished last in the conference. They conceded 80 goals (tied with Hartford for the worst defense in the conference). They weren't helped by the struggles of Sporting Kansas City this season, but they were rarely a competitive side at this level. SEASON GRADE: F

WESTERN CONFERENCE

  1. Phoenix Rising FC (↔): Set the USL single-season points record. Their goal difference of +53 was better than or equal to the goals scored of 20 USL Championship teams. Their 89 goals for were best in the league by 15. Tied with El Paso for the best defense in the West. They'll play every one of their playoff matches at home, and at this point it's hard to see a scenario where they aren't in the final. The most complete side in the league. SEASON GRADE: A+

  2. Reno 1868 FC (↔): Their form dropped off towards the end of the season, but they had built up enough of a cushion that a top four spot was never in doubt. Their 72 goals scored are the third-best in the league, but they can be lax on the other side of the ball. Their form at home has been average at best, though, and they could struggle against a team capable of scoring.. SEASON GRADE: A

  3. Real Monarchs SLC (↑1): One of the hottest teams in the league over the back half of the season, with a high powered attack and a fantastic 11W-4D-2L record at home. They've beaten all but one of the Western Conference playoff sides already, and look more than capable of making a run to the conference finals. SEASON GRADE: A

  4. Fresno FC (↓1): Questions about the club's future plus a drop in form put a damper on the final weeks of their regular season, but this side is very much in the mix. Ended Phoenix Rising's 20 match win streak, and boast a strong home record to boot. Their attack is the weakest of the top four, but they're defensively strong and are more than capable of squeezing out 1-0 wins over top sides. SEASON GRADE: A-

  5. Orange County SC (↑1): Incredibly underwhelming to start the year, but went on a late run to finish in 5th place. They don't score many goals, but have the second best defense in the conference. They'll have a tough test against Real Monarchs on Saturday. SEASON GRADE: B+

  6. Sacramento Republic FC (↓1): Like Orange County, they endured a poor start to the season, but found their form in the home stretch. They have the worst attack of any Western Conference playoff side, scoring just 50 goals, and will take on a New Mexico team who are capable of scoring. SEASON GRADE: B

  7. San Antonio FC (↔): They looked like a playoff side for long stretches of the season, and collapsed in epic fashion on the final day, drawing 2-2 with a Colorado Springs side that played down a man for 62 minutes. Missed the playoffs by a point, and really have no excuses. SEASON GRADE: D+

  8. El Paso Locomotive FC (↔): Came within six points of a top four spot in their debut season, and their 36 goals allowed tie Phoenix for the best defense in the league. They're able to limit their opponent's chances and are good on the counter, and look like a side in really good position to cause problems in the playoffs. Their first-round matchup against Fresno has all the makings of a one goal match. SEASON GRADE: B+

  9. LA Galaxy II (↑2): The only Western Conference team with a negative goal difference, but a tough team to beat on the road. They concede a lot of goals, and their attack is inconsistent at best. On the road against a resolute Austin side, they could struggle to make it past the first round. SEASON GRADE: C+

  10. New Mexico United (↔): After taking the league by storm at the start of the season, they barely squeezed into the playoffs. Their attack stagnated in the second half of the season, but they're still capable of scoring enough to cause problems. They'll travel to take on a Sacramento side who struggle to score consistently. SEASON GRADE: C+

  11. Austin Bold FC (↓2): Lost 3-1 to Tacoma on the final day of the season, but still managed to secure a playoff spot in their debut season. They're not really spectacular at one specific aspect of the game, but they're incredibly strong at home and will take on LA Galaxy II, who have the worst defense of any playoff side in the league. SEASON GRADE: B-

  12. Portland Timbers 2 (↔): This side should've been in the playoffs, but lost seven of their last eight to choke themselves out of a postseason berth with a 14th place finish. SEASON GRADE: D-

  13. Rio Grande Valley FC (↑1): Struggled midseason, but rounded into form at the end. It was ultimately too little too late, but they showed signs of promise for next year. SEASON GRADE: D

  14. Las Vegas Lights FC (↓1): They were entertaining, if nothing else. Conceded too many and scored too few to be a serious contender, but stayed in the mix until the last couple weeks. Their horrible form on the road really killed their shot at a playoff spot. SEASON GRADE: D

  15. OKC Energy (↔): In a playoff spot for much of the season, although it always felt like their table position was not a great indicator of their actual quality. Dropped off considerably at the end of the year to finish in 15th. SEASON GRADE: D-

  16. Tulsa Roughnecks FC (↔): Started the season strong, but it felt unsustainable for a team that really lacked depth. Out of contention for the last month of the season. SEASON GRADE: D-

  17. CS Switchbacks FC (↔): Finished in last place in the West, with the worst attack in the league. SEASON GRADE: F

  18. Tacoma Defiance (↔): Their 82 goals conceded makes them the second worst defensive side in USL history (topped only by the historically bad Antigua Barracuda side, who finished with 0 points and 91 goals allowed in 26 games). It's hard to be competitive when you concede 2.4 goals per game. SEASON GRADE: F

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