After claiming the throne a week ago, Real Monarchs SLC remained on top of the USLSoccer.com Power Rankings for a second consecutive week. The Monarchs’ eighth consecutive victory tied the USL record on Saturday night, and moved the club two points clear of San Antonio FC in the Western Conference standings.
While the team’s attack has been getting most of the plaudits, and rightfully so after averaging 2.5 goals per game this season, the team’s defense is also starting to weigh in as the Monarchs look to surpass the eight-game winning streak set by 2014 side Orlando City SC. Three shutouts in the past five games have been crucial to the team’s success, and helped bring Real’s goals-against average for the season to 0.90.
Interestingly, the Monarchs’ defensive numbers aren’t that far off those of San Antonio, which is well on its way to not only a potential shutout streak record after seven consecutive clean sheets, but potentially other places in the USL record books at the end of the season. The Monarchs have allowed 43 shots to San Antonio’s 39, while the team’s tacking rates sit at 77.9 percent (SAFC) and 77.2 percent (RMSLC) respectively.
With Reno 1868 FC coming to Rio Tinto Stadium next Monday night, the Monarchs will have to earn every bit of the victory that would set a record. With the way the team is currently performing, though, it certainly appears within reach.
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 (49pts)
Last Week: W 2-0 vs. Portland Timbers 2
The Monarchs were at their best in their victory against the Portland Timbers 2 on Saturday, comfortably outshooting their visitors as they returned to Rio Tinto Stadium to reach 30 goals for the season overall. With Reno coming to visit, next Monday night could bring one of the most entertaining games of the season at Rio Tinto Stadium.
2. San Antonio FC (46pts)
Last Week: D 0-0 at OKC Energy FC
San Antonio FC fell short of a sixth consecutive road victory, but did maintain its undefeated record and extend its shutout streak to seven games. Finding a way to get the attack clicking into gear has to be a priority, though, with the Monarchs now two points ahead in the standings and the side having scored only twice in its past five league games.
3. Charleston Battery (39pts)
Last Week: W 1-0 vs. Richmond Kickers
The Battery had their backs against the wall at times in the second half against the Kickers, but despite being outshot 11-3 after the break the hosts made Justin Portillo’s first-half penalty kick hold up at MUSC Health Stadium. Charleston is now undefeated in its past eight games against Richmond, and has a four-point lead for the moment at the top of the East.
Photo courtesy Zach Bland / Charleston Battery
4. Louisville City FC (36pts)
Last Week: W 1-0 vs. Charlotte Independence; W 3-0 at New York Red Bulls II
Two wins in a week, including the club’s first against the New York Red Bulls II, has put Louisville on the brink of second place, and within sight of first, in the Eastern Conference. With the team’s defense regaining its footing after shipping four goals against Charleston, and the team’s attack getting enough from a variety of sources, City’s charge could take flight over the next few weeks.
5. Tampa Bay Rowdies (23pts)
Last Week: D 1-1 vs. Rochester Rhinos
The Rowdies have to be looking over their shoulder now after a third successive draw in which the side had to find an equalizer, and a four-game winless streak overall. With a three-game road trip up next before the high-profile July 6 showdown with FC Cincinnati on ESPNU, Tampa Bay will want to avoid getting dragged into a fight for a top-four position later in the season.
6. Rio Grande Valley FC (20pts)
Last Week: L 3-2 at Reno 1868 FC; W 3-1 vs. Seattle Sounders FC 2
The Toros had an up-and-down week, but are still right in the thick of the Western Conference playoff race after Saturday night’s win against Seattle. Getting a victory against the LA Galaxy II next weekend is going to be important, though, with visits to Sacramento, Colorado Springs and Swope Park following next.
Photo courtesy Rio Grande Valley FC
7. Rochester Rhinos (18pts)
Last Week: D 1-1 at Orlando City B, D 1-1 at Tampa Bay Rowdies
Rochester got a satisfactory return from its trip to Florida, although it would have been hoping for one of the good second-half chances it created against the Rowdies to find the net. The Rhinos’ undefeated streak is now at seven games to put the club firmly in position to challenge the top four.
8. Reno 1868 FC (18pts)
Last Week: W 3-2 vs. Rio Grande Valley FC; W 2-0 vs. Sacramento Republic FC
Reno moved into the top four of the Western Conference, grabbing a solid home victory against the Toros before gaining a little revenge against Republic FC for its defeat in the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup. The steam Reno’s gained in the past six weeks may not be fully taken account for in its current position in the rankings, but next Monday’s showdown with the Monarchs offers a chance to make a big statement after a 5-3 loss at Rio Tinto Stadium earlier this season.
9. Swope Park Rangers (14pts)
Last Week: W 3-1 vs. Tulsa Roughnecks FC
The Rangers left it late, but made sure they stayed in the Western Conference playoff standings thanks to their late victory against Tulsa Roughnecks FC. Mark Anthony Gonzalez’s brace off the bench is definitely a positive sign as the club welcomes Phoenix Rising FC next Sunday night, and all that game now brings.
10. Ottawa Fury FC (6pts)
Last Week: W 1-0 vs. Harrisburg City Islanders
Ottawa makes its debut in the Power Rankings this week; that’s what three wins out of four will do for you in a crowded Eastern Conference field. It took a little while for Head Coach Paul Dalglish’s side to find its attacking form this season, but now Fury FC has has the look of a side that isn’t going to look back as it pursues a postseason berth at the end of the season.
Also receiving votes – Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC 4, Pittsburgh Riverhounds 2, Tulsa Roughnecks FC 1