June 18, 2007

USL First Division Power Rankings - 6/18 edition

A little shakeup at the top as the new top team has been coming on strong and played a great offensive game on Sunday. Add to that another shocking home loss for one of the perennial powerhouses and an off-week for the other, and we've got a new #1. If you have to ask who's at the bottom, obviously you haven't been reading us lately, but based on the number of hits, I'm sure you have.

1. Rochester Raging Rhinos (+2) - They're your current top team in the league, and if anyone else watched Sunday's match (which was a hell of a lot of fun), their offense is clicking on all cylinders. The only thing that scares me is their form away from home, but they've only dropped 2 of a possible 12 points at home and won't leave PAETEC Park until mid-July. Watch out.

2. Vancouver Whitecaps (-1) - An off-week that was celebrated with much fanfare as Martin Nash and the Canadian National Team is into the Gold Cup semifinals. They make the Miami/Puerto Rico trip this weekend, as they can put some ground between them and the middle of the table.

3. Seattle Sounders (+2) - Undefeated in their last 5, the Sounders won an ugly game in Carolina on Friday, things good teams do to put themselves in playoff position. I'd like to say I'll be watching intently on Saturday night when they host Montreal, but at 10 p.m. EST, that'll be right in the heart of our birthday bash at the Brewhouse. Hey, I won't lie, I don't watch all these games.

4. Montreal Impact (-2) - This isn't the Impact that I know. Two-straight home losses is rather shocking. Montreal's always been the team to rely on defense, but they need to score some goals if they're going to give up some. The two 1-0 scorelines aren't shocking, just that they've been on the wrong side of both. The defensive error at the end of the game on Friday that Byron Alvarez latched onto to score the only goal was hideously bad. Come on guys, you're better than this.

5. Portland Timbers (-1) - It was a slow week in the league, as the Timbers also had the week off. Montreal heads to the Northwest on Thursday for another must-watch. Considering that Montreal plays both Seattle and Portland this weekend and the Sounders and Timbers play next Tuesday in the US Open Cup, I wonder who Montreal will deliver a scouting report to?

6. California Victory (+2) - Slow week? Well, they got a draw on the road. Didn't show much offense, but neither did their opponent. In any case, it looks like this team has started to find a rhythm. If it hadn't been for the hideous start, this team could challenge for the playoffs. Personally, I still think they're one or two offensive players away from making that run.

7. Carolina RailHawks (-1) - I won't fault them too much for losing to Seattle. But they'll need to rebound as they try to defend their lead in the Southern Derby on Saturday when they host Charleston. The RailHawks need to take advantage of the Battery, who'll be playing their 2nd game in 2 days.

8. Puerto Rico Islanders (-1) - Another team with an off-week. It gets difficult to write about all these teams who didn't play. They get Vancouver on Sunday, the best thing the Islanders can do is get rid of those clowns they've had announcing their matches on USL Live.

9. Charleston Battery (-) - A huge win followed by a bad loss. That's why I can't knock them down or move them up. Take away a bad miscue by Montreal and they wouldn't have won on Friday. But, they've got a Southern Derby weekend as they host Atlanta on Friday and go to Carolina on Saturday.

10. Miami FC (-) - Eh. A draw at Minnesota. Nothing to get too excited about. But a draw doesn't do them any good if they want to make the playoffs. Vancouver at home on Friday, maybe the Gold Cup woke up some of the Miami-area soccer fans. Unlikely.

11. Minnesota Thunder (+1) - You know why I'm moving them up? Because they tied Miami at home, they didn't lose to them after leading by one in the second half like the team below them. Hopefully they'll get their first home win when they host California on Sunday. Give the boys at duNord something to cheer about.

12. Atlanta Silverbacks (-1) - We went from being the most hated men in Atlanta soccer to two of the most popular in 90 minutes. Now the nation can watch this farce they call soccer on Friday. I'm begging you to watch on Friday so you can see first-hand what we've been talking about. I'd like to think they'd prove me wrong, but I doubt it.

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