Hot topic among the USLSoccer.com Power Rankings voting panel this week: When a team has a bye, like say the No.1 over the first two weeks of the season Swope Park Rangers, do you reward those who competed for their performances, or keep the team with the week off in the position it had held?
Opinions were mixed. As a result, we have co-No. 1s in the poll, and the prospect of the top four teams in the poll overall squaring off this Saturday in what’s shaping up to be a great night of action.
Elsewhere, we have two new faces entering in the bottom two places in the Top 10, although if you listen closely you can probably hear the Steel Army grumbling. The Riverhounds will get a chance to bolster their credentials on Wednesday, though, with fellow Top 10 side Saint Louis FC set to visit Highmark Stadium for what is looking to be a seriously entertaining contest.
The five-person USLSoccer.com 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.
T-1. Swope Park Rangers (45pts)
Last Week: Idle
The Swope Park Rangers saw their total slip again, but they’ll get the chance to regain sole possession of the top spot on Saturday when Sacramento Republic FC visits Children’s Mercy Victory Field in one of Saturday night’s must-see contests.
T-1. Tampa Bay Rowdies (45pts)
Last Week: W 1-0 vs. Ottawa Fury FC
The Rowdies’ 3-0-0 start has been like a reverse mullet – party up front, business in the back. Tampa Bay is the only team that has yet to concede a goal in the league this season, while Georgi Hristov has notched three goals in three games, including the game-winner against Fury FC. Their record will get strongly tested in the upcoming road trip, though, with a visit to both Louisville and Cincinnati on tap.
Photo courtesy Matt May / Tampa Bay Rowdies
3. Sacramento Republic FC (44pts)
Last Week: W 2-1 at Tulsa Roughnecks FC
Sacramento had to fight hard to earn its third consecutive win, a club-best start to the season, but with two more games coming up this week it’s got little time to linger. Tuesday night brings a visit to OKC Energy FC in the USL Game of the Week on ESPN3, and then a massive showdown with Swope Park, for what could be for the No. 1 spot here next week.
4. Louisville City FC (31pts)
Last Week: W 1-0 at Richmond Kickers
Louisville needed to be patient in earning a second consecutive victory, but George Davis IV found the winner from the spot to keep Louisville rolling nicely to start the season. Now City FC plays host to the Rowdies with a chance to jump them both in the Eastern Conference standings, and in the power rankings as well. With a blackout planned for Saturday night, Slugger Field should be an amazing setting for a fascinating matchup.
5. Saint Louis FC (30pts)
Last Week: W 3-2 vs. New York Red Bulls II
Two weeks in a row, two 3-2 victories, and this one against the defending USL Cup champions? That’s going to earn some solid respect for what’s grown into a very nice undefeated start to the Preki era. Saint Louis can’t let up now, though, with a visit to Highmark Stadium to face the Pittsburgh Riverhounds on Wednesday night followed by FC Cincinnati’s home opener at Nippert Stadium. We’ll see how STLFC fares running this gauntlet.
Photo courtesy Mark Guthrel / Saint Louis FC
6. San Antonio FC (29pts)
Last Week: D 1-1 vs. Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC
San Antonio emerged from the weekend undefeated, but no longer perfect after its hard-fought draw with the Switchbacks. What was pretty perfect? Kris Tyrpak’s equalizer that brought the crowd of 6,217 at Toyota Field to its feet. More of that and SAFC will be just fine in the Western Conference. A visit from Reno awaits this weekend to conclude a three-game home stand.
7. Real Monarchs SLC (20pts)
Last Week: W 5-3 vs. Reno 1868 FC
The Monarchs continued their perfect start last Thursday night with a remarkable first-half performance, and a final 10 minutes where they almost let it slip away. The creativity Real is showing in the attacking third is really impressive, though, and a clash against Rocky Mountain rival Colorado Springs could be a fascinating one to watch on Saturday night.
Photo courtesy Darren Abate / San Antonio FC
8. Charleston Battery (15pts)
Last Week: L 2-1 vs. Pittsburgh Riverhounds
OK, so here’s where it gets complicated. Yes, the Battery lost to the Riverhounds on Saturday afternoon on a stoppage-time goal by Corey Hertzog. But the Battery’s two prior wins, and the close nature of the overall game, appears to have kept the Battery on their pedestal at least for this week. It will be interesting to see if the side can rebound when it hosts Rochester on Saturday night.
9. Pittsburgh Riverhounds (7pts)
Last Week: W 2-1 at Charleston Battery
The Riverhounds could certainly feel hard-done-by to still be behind the Battery here, but given that it was their first win of the season, it appears they will need to show a little bit more to move higher in the rankings. The Riverhounds will get a plum opportunity to do so on Wednesday night when they host Saint Louis FC, and then they hit the road themselves to face the Charlotte Independence on Saturday night in a busy week.
10. Rochester Rhinos (5pts)
Last Week: D 0-0 at Toronto FC II
The Rhinos’ draw in Toronto on Friday night wasn’t nearly as thrilling as its opening win of the season against Bethlehem, but it’s kept an undefeated start to the season moving. A visit to Charleston is up next as the Rhinos try to make up for a little lost time after starting the season a week later than most of the Eastern Conference leaders.
Also receiving votes – Orange County SC 3, Tulsa Roughnecks FC 1