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Western Conference - One Number Why

Taking a look at why each team may, or may not have postseason success

Ryan Hodek

Numbers can tell us a lot about most situations, and lets be honest, if you did not care about numbers there is a low chance that you would be reading anything that I write. When only a few teams are left standing however, numbers can do a good job of exposing a team’s greatest strengths, as well as some of their weaknesses.

I have gathered two numbers for every Western Conference playoff team. One number that can be used to say why they are going to win the USL West, and one number to show how they have little to no chance of accomplishing that feat.

#1 Real Monarchs SLC

Why they will win

20 – Regular season wins. The Monarchs won at least two more games than any other team did in the 2017 season. Every team with at least 20 regular season wins has won the USL Cup.

Why they will lose

6 – Wins in the final 15 games played by Real Monarchs. The team has slowed as the season has drawn to an end, and may be more vulnerable to an upset than they were in early form.

#2 San Antonio FC

Why they will win

24 – Goals allowed in the regular season. San Antonio is the only team that has a better goals allowed record this season than the average USL Cup champion since 2011 posted.

Why they will lose

8 – Home wins by San Antonio. While tough to beat a home, half of their matches have been either defeats or draws. When pushed into penalty kicks, anything can happen.

#3 Reno 1868 FC

Why they will win

75 – Reno put up 75 goals on the season, a USL record. If the team is in sync offensively, it will be very difficult for even a top defensive side to keep Reno in check.

Why they will lose

1 – Victories when Reno failed to score multiple goals in 2017. While not a common occurrence, Reno has only managed to take one victory from their 12 matches they scored one goal or fewer. Six of those matches came against playoff teams.

#4 Swope Park Rangers

Why they will win

4 – Seed of Swope Park in 2016, when they won the USL West Playoffs. They hold the same seed with a better goal differential this season as they try to win the West title back to back.

Why they will lose

4 – Road wins in 2017. From the 4th seed, Swope Park will nearly assuredly need at least two road wins in order to hoist the cup, if not more. They will have to start taking road wins or get lucky with upsets if they want to have a chance.

#5 Phoenix Rising

Why they will win

8 – Phoenix wins in their last ten games to end the regular season. The rebranded club is one of the hottest teams coming into the playoffs, and if they can continue that momentum they are unquestionably the most dangerous road team in the USL.

Why they will lose

2 – Points gained by Phoenix on the road all season against other playoff teams. While Phoenix is hot, they have yet to prove themselves on the road with a 0-5-2 road record against playoff teams and only scoring four total goals in those seven matches.

#6 Oklahoma City Energy

Why they will win

9 – Victories in their final 15 matches. After a span of seven matches mid-season where Oklahoma City won only one match, they have returned to the form that has earned them another playoff berth, and will need to hold that form to have a chance.

Why they will lose

0 – Road shutouts. Oklahoma City will be doing a lot of traveling to make a deep run, and the side has yet to keep a clean sheet on the road. When defense wins championships, this does not bode well for the Energy.

#7 Tulsa Roughnecks

Why they will win

70 – Chances created by Juan Pablo Caffa. The versatile midfielder was second in the league in chances created, and as they will start behind the proverbial eight ball, Caffa will have to bring his best play and lift the Roughnecks.

Why they will lose

-3 – Goal differential for the 2017 season. The only Western conference team to post a negative goal differential, Tulsa will have to play far better than they did for the entirety of the regular season to have any legitimate shot of making a run in the playoffs.

#8 Sacramento Republic FC

Why they will win

4 – Consecutive playoff appearances. If any team knows how the post-season works in the West, it is Sacramento who has now made the playoffs in each of their four seasons. Their intangible experience may be enough to boost their chances against playoff rookies.

Why they will lose

210 – Playoff minutes since the last goal scored by Sacramento. A two season scoring drought, including one game that went into penalty kicks, has sent Sacramento out in their previous two first round matches.

Thoughts:

Any team can have success, and any team can be met with defeat on any given night. Over the next month however, we will see only one team rise to the top and claim the Cup. What numbers will support their rise to greatness? What numbers will be harbingers of their doom? We can only wait and see.