Another week of USL Western Conference action left us with no new teams breaking into the top seven of our Power Rankings. Instead, this past week just served to widen the gap between the top seven and everyone else. Suddenly the difference in our rankings between 7th and 8th is 20 points. To put 20 points in perspective, the greatest single game swing for any team this season has been 10 points, with most blowouts giving only eight points.
This means that tiers are clearly forming. The first seven teams are one tier, the teams ranked from 8th to 13th are another. Inside those two groups, the ranks change on nearly a weekly basis, but teams do not usually move between groups. Will one team eventually slip out of the top pack, or will a team successfully make the climb from the second to the top group?
1 (1) Colorado Springs Switchbacks (1133)
Last Week: Drew Los Angeles Galaxy II (0-0)
This Week: @San Antonio FC (Saturday)
A hard fought draw kept the Switchbacks at the top of the table. They travel to face a defensively strong San Antonio team this week.
2 (2) Vancouver Whitecaps 2 (1128)
Last Week: Lost to Seattle Sounders 2 (2-3), Defeated Swope Park Rangers (3-2)
This Week: vs Portland Timbers 2 (Saturday)
Whitecaps 2 lost back to back games after starting the season on a ten game winning streak, and almost gave away a third. They need to get back on track after giving up eight goals over their past four games and have a chance to do just that againt Portland Timbers 2 this weekend.
3 (4) Los Angeles Galaxy II (1118)
Last Week: Drew Colorado Springs Switchbacks (0-0)
This Week: @Tulsa Roughnecks (Friday)
A draw at one of the top teams in the league isn't a bad result at all. Los Dos now gets to travel to a free-falling Tulsa side in what should be a confidence builder.
4 (5) Rio Grande Valley Toros (1116)
Last Week: Lost to Swope Park Rangers (0-4), Defeated Oklahoma City Energy (3-0)
This Week: @Sacramento Republic (Saturday)
Last week was a tale of two games for RGVFC. The Toros got beat badly by Swope Park and then looked great against a solid Energy side. Although it might be flying under everyone's radar, their trip to Sacramento has the potential to be the game of the week.
5 (7) Sacramento Republic (1116)
Last Week: Defeated Real Monarchs (1-0), Defeated Real Monarchs (2-1)
This Week: vs Rio Grande Valley Toros (Saturday)
Finally getting the monkey off their back, Sacramento recorded their first two wins in team history against the Monarchs, one in Sacramento, the other in Reno. A game against an up and down Toros team is up next in a battle of top sides.
6 (6) Saint Louis FC (1115)
Last Week: Defeated Tulsa Roughnecks (7-1)
This Week: @Arizona United (Saturday)
Saint Louis destroyed a hapless looking Roughnecks side for the second time this season and now hold a 4-1-1 record against the top group of teams. However, a -2 goal differential against the top of the pack leaves Saint Louis with questions moving forward.
7 (3) Oklahoma City Energy (1112)
Last Week: Lost to Rio Grande Valley Toros (0-3)
This Week: @Swope Park Rangers (Saturday)
A poor performance left the Energy looking for answers this coming week. A trip to an up-and-down Swope Park team could get them back on path, or continue their slide.
8 (11) San Antonio FC (1092)
Last Week: Drew Portland Timbers 2 (1-1)
This Week: vs Colorado Springs Switchbacks (Saturday)
A late draw saved a point and kept San Antonio in the front of the pack. A tough Switchbacks side comes to town this weekend, which should put the normally tough San Antonio defense to the test
9 (12) Swope Park Rangers (1091)
Last Week: Defeated Rio Grande Valley Toros (4-0), Lost to Vancouver Whitecaps 2 (2-3)
This Week: vs Oklahoma City Energy (Saturday)
Swope Park finally looked like the offensive team we all thought they would, scoring six goals and tallying back to back multi-goal games for the first time since their first two of the season. If Swope can continue to score at this pace, they will quickly rise up the ranks.
10 (13) Arizona United (1090)
Last Week: Defeated Orange County Blues (2-0)
This Week: vs Saint Louis FC (Saturday)
Arizona got back on track against OC Blues last week, but host Saint Louis has some momentum of their own, coming off a dominating win over Tulsa. However, Saint Louis has failed to win any of their three matches following off a multi-goal performance this season, a streak United will attempt to take to four.
11 (8) Real Monarchs (1088)
Last Week: Lost to Sacramento Republic (0-1), Lost to Sacramento Republic (1-2)
This Week: @Orange County Blues (Saturday)
Two close losses sent the Monarchs in a skid, and now four of their six losses have come by a single goal. A trip to Orange County, who has conceded in six consecutive matches, could get the Monarchs moving back in the right direction.
12 (9) Portland Timbers 2 (1088)
Last Week: Drew San Antonio FC (1-1), Lost to Seattle Sounders 2 (1-2)
This Week: @Vancouver Whitecaps 2 (Sunday)
TImbers 2 took only one point out of a possible six last week, something that could haunt them down the road. However, this could be a learning experience, and the Timbers certainly will need to take the lesson to heart if they want to make a playoff push.
13 (10) Orange County Blues (1085)
Last Week: Lost to Arizona United (0-2)
This Week: vs Real Monarchs (Saturday)
The Blues have now surrendered a goal in six straight and have only one win on the season when they allow a goal. They host Real Monarchs, who have scored in seven of their last eight matches, this Saturday.
14 (15) Seattle Sounders 2 (1069)
Last Week: Defeated Vancouver Whitecaps 2 (3-2), Defeated Portland Timbers 2 (2-1)
This Week: Bye Week
Seattle won back to back games for the first time in almost a complete calendar year. With a bye week up next, they will have to hope the momentum continues despite the extended rest.
15 (14) Tulsa Roughnecks (1053)
Last Week: Lost to Saint Louis FC (1-7)
This Week: vs Los Angeles Galaxy II (Friday)
No words. Something is seriously wrong in Tulsa, and it needs to be fixed. They need a good run of play and they need it now.
Biggest Rise: San Antonio FC, Swope Park Rangers, Arizona United (+3)
Biggest Fall: Oklahoma City Energy (-4)
This week we see lots of high level teams playing lower level teams, but we do see one key battle in Rio Grande Valley and Sacramento matching up on Saturday. These are the two teams that are tied for 4th in the rankings with a rating of 1116. It is a battle of different styles though, as the Toros have had 10 of their 13 games end with 3 or more goals scored, while Sacramento has had that occur in just one of their twelve.
Also interesting about the Toros and Republic matchup is that neither team has lost a game in which they have scored this season. Together they hold a combined 12-0-5 record when scoring.
Are there any other games that you feel are going to be good this week? How long with the gap between 7th and 8th hold? Let us know in the comments.