With San Antonio FC off for the week, Real Monarchs SLC had a big chance to take control at the top of the Western Conference standings. With a pair of impressive wins, and an eight-point lead, the Monarchs also became a unanimous No. 1 in this week’s edition of the USL Power Rankings as the top five in the list remained unchanged.
The Monarchs’ attack was without Sebastian Velasquez, but managed to barely miss a beat as it knocked in seven goals over its two outings last week, moving into a tie with Reno 1868 FC for the most goals in the USL this season. At the forefront was Chandler Hoffman, whose 42 regular-season goals in the league now place him tied for third all-time since the USL’s inception in 2011 alongside Richmond Kickers legend Matthew Delicate.
By contrast, No. 3 San Antonio has been getting things done at the defensive end this season with the fewest goals conceded in the league. With the showdown between the two clubs on July 22 now starting to close in, that contrast will be a major talking point in one of the games of the season.
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.
1. Real Monarchs SLC (50pts)
Last Week: W 3-1 vs. OKC Energy FC; W 4-1 vs. Seattle Sounders FC 2
The Monarchs have 10 consecutive wins at Rio Tinto Stadium under their belt after the past week, which has given them a sizeable cushion despite SAFC’s game in hand on them. The relentlessness with which Real attacks has been difficult for most teams to deal with this season, putting the side two-thirds of the way to the New York Red Bulls II’s USL record of 21 overall victories a season ago only 17 games into the season.
2. Charleston Battery (44pts)
Last Week: D 1-1 vs. Louisville City FC
The Battery remained six points clear of Louisville thanks to their 1-1 draw at MUSC Health Stadium in a compelling contest between the top two teams in the Eastern Conference. Without Romario Williams – who scored on Sunday in the 2017 CONCACAF Gold Cup for his first goal for Jamaica – the Battery still looked dangerous enough, and will look to complete a season sweep of Saint Louis FC on Saturday night.
3. San Antonio FC (41pts)
Last Week: Bye
San Antonio didn’t get the results it was hoping for on its week off, with both Real Monarchs SLC pulling further into the distance and the sound of the Swope Park Rangers’ footsteps starting to sneak up behind. A national spotlight should provide another memorable night for SAFC after Saturday’s 1-1 draw with Liga MX’s Santos Laguna in front of 8,007 at Toyota Stadium.
Photo courtesy Darren Abate / San Antonio FC
4. Louisville City FC (35pts)
Last Week: D 1-1 at Charleston Battery
Louisville certainly deserved a point from its visit to Charleston, but now has the white-hot Charlotte Independence breathing down its neck just a point back in third place. That will provide an interesting subplot to Saturday’s River Cities Cup clash with FC Cincinnati, the first this season at Slugger Field, that has plenty on the line for both clubs.
5. Swope Park Rangers (30pts)
Last Week: W 4-0 vs. Rio Grande Valley FC
Four wins on the spin for the Swope Park Rangers have put the side into a much stronger position that it sat in just three weeks ago, with a top-three position now potentially turning into a chance at the top two if the side can keep its run ticking over. With the way Kevin Oliveira, Lebo Moloto and the rest are currently performing, a slowdown doesn’t seem on the horizon.
6. Reno 1868 FC FC (24pts)
Last Week: W 9-0 vs. LA Galaxy II
Reno 1868 FC’s demolition of the LA Galaxy II last Monday night made a big impression both for the team, and also for winger Chris Wehan, who is now fully in the spotlight in his rookie season alongside the likes of Dane Kelly and Antoine Hoppenot. Saturday afternoon’s clash with Vancouver Whitecaps FC 2 offers another chance to build a playoff platform and keep itself in contention for a top-four finish at the end of the season.
7. Charlotte Independence (19pts)
Last Week: W 3-1 at Pittsburgh Riverhounds; W 5-1 vs. Saint Louis FC
The Independence’s club-record fifth consecutive victory on Saturday night moved the side into third place in the Eastern Conference, and continued the resurgence of Jorge Herrera as he reached nine goals this season to overtake Enzo Martinez for the team lead. Herrera’s next goal will be his 50th in the USL regular season, and with a visit to a still-shaky New York Red Bulls II defense up next, it might not be long before it arrives.
Photo courtesy Charlotte Independence
T-8. Bethlehem Steel FC (11pts)
Last Week: W 2-0 vs. New York Red Bulls II
Steel FC was without two of its leading attackers (Seku Conneh, Cory Burke) and one of its key defenders (Hugh Roberts) and still looked solid as it ran its undefeated streak to seven games on Sunday against the Red Bulls II. The club’s youngsters, like Matthew Real and Mark McKenzie, are contributing, but the core of the team is looking very solid as it continues its upward trajectory.
T-8. Sacramento Republic FC (11pts)
Last Week: Bye
Sacramento had last and this week off, with an exhibition against Liga MX’s Pachuca on Saturday night at Papa Murphy’s Park. Republic FC enters a big part of its season with four of five on home turf, including visits from Reno 1868 FC and the Swope Park Rangers.
10. Tampa Bay Rowdies (9pts)
Last Week: W 2-0 vs. FC Cincinnati
The Rowdies finally broke their downturn in form, with their 2-0 victory against FC Cincinnati being driven by the unlikely force of Alex Morrell. With the ship looking slightly more settled, Tampa Bay will visit Orlando on Thursday night for the second edition of the I-4 Derby this season hoping the pendulum is on the upswing again.
Also receiving votes – Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC 1, Tulsa Roughnecks FC 1