July 15, 2007

USL First Division Power Rankings

Sorry about the lack of rankings last week. Between the Copa America, the U-20 World Cup and all the American soccer, it was a busy week. It didn't have anything to do with anything else, I promise you. Sometimes we just need a break.

1. Portland Timbers - Just completely dominating the league right now. 5 straight wins, with only 1 goal allowed in those, and it came tonight against California. Only 2 losses on the season, and now they're in first in the table as well as on points per game. I bet they're glad they're out of the US Open Cup so they can continue their strong league performance. But look out, they've got three games in four days this week, including two in Atlanta and Charleston this weekend.

2. Atlanta Silverbacks - Yep, that's right. We're not afraid to give credit where credit is due. The fact of the matter is that behind Portland, they're the hottest team in the league. 4 straight wins, with 11 goals in those games. Two things have marked the turnaround: Putting Tony McManus back in the starting lineup in his correct position, and the switch to Ryan McIntosh in goal. I can't wait for Saturday's game at the ReMax when they host Portland. But a long trip looms to California on Tuesday.

3. Seattle Sounders - I know, they had a week off, but they're on a 3-game winning streak. And they're 2nd in the table. A big game (playoff positioning-wise) looms against Vancouver on Saturday.

4. Puerto Rico Islanders - Two wins are two wins, it doesn't matter if they both came against Charleston at home this weekend. They got the results, and every other team in the league (besides who's above them in these rankings) didn't. They're on the inside as far as the playoffs go right now.

5. Miami FC - Hey, maybe they're not dead after all. Two straight wins, both on the road. Now they get to host Carolina and California, in two games that, to me, will make or break their playoff chances.

6. Minnesota Thunder - Another team with two straight wins. And they came THREE WEEKS APART. I wonder what the team did with all that time off. I wouldn't be surprised if they got jobs or tried to join another team in that time.

7. Montreal Impact - Wow. 3-0 loss at Minnesota? I'd like to think it was just a bad hiccup, but look at the Impact's results this year. Only twice in their last 15 games have they scored more than 1 goal. Obviously, Montreal can't win like they used to anymore. Another game at Minnesota on Wednesday before two weeks off to fix whatever's wrong.

8. Carolina RailHawks - US Open Cup triumphs aside, this team hasn't won a league game since June. And the crap that went down in last Sunday's 2-2 draw with Montreal was pathetic. All of their fans can try to defend them, but the fact of the matter is that everytime there seems to be some kind of fight or physical altercation this year in the league, this team is involved in it. That's no coincidence.

9. Rochester Raging Rhinos - I know, I know, injuries galore. But hey, at least they don't try to hide them, unlike some teams I know. And John Ball's a swell guy for showing up in Atlanta even though he was given the option of skipping the game to head down to Brazil to join up with the USA Futsal Team at the PanAmerican Games. But they only have 4 points in their last 5 games and only have 9 games remaining. They aren't looking good for a high playoff seed, but they still look better than...

10. Vancouver Whitecaps - I should drop this team lower, I know I should. Maybe they can't practice because Swangard's being used for the U-20 World Cup. I just cannot for the life of me figure out what's wrong with this team. They haven't won since June 22. They've scored three goals in their last seven matches. Sorry, losing Tony Caig doesn't matter when you can't score goals.

11. Charleston Battery - They haven't won since June 22 either. 2 points in their last 6 matches won't get you into the playoffs. And Portland coming to town on Sunday isn't good news either.

12. California Victory - Just when I was starting to like this team, everything goes south again. Four straight losses, with an 11-2 aggregate in those games. Ouch. It looks like the whopping 10 league games they play this month might be taking a toll.


Anonymous said...

Vancouver,Montreal and Rochester are scuffling right now. They are normally the top three. Could it be that the rest of the league is catching up talent wise?

Longshoe said...

You might be right. I want to see how the rest of the season shakes out first.

I wouldn't just put it down to talent, I think there's also more stability in the league now than ever before. Just a few years ago, players and staff worried about checks bouncing on a regular basis. I don't think that happens much anymore, not with the group of teams at this level anyway.

Anonymous said...

Don't forget Lancaster. He's a beast in the air.

Longshoe said...

Personally, I think Jarun is a little better in the air, but Lancaster is much better with his feet.

It's a bit of a wash. I want to see if the defense is stronger lined up like (left to right) Hayes-Lancaster-Bobo-Moore or Hayes-Jarun-Bobo-Lancaster. The second option is what the line looked like before Jarun's injury.

Adam said...

Well, the RailHawks are definitely a hard-nosed, defensive minded team. I'm not going to shy away from the fact we have our fair share of hard tackles and physical play. But we weren't the ones actually throwing punches to people's faces. There's a difference in being physical and being dirty.

With that said, Jonny Steele is a dirty player. He's talks trash against practically every team and it seems like he's always the first in any altercation.