Real Monarchs SLC’s bid for a historic ninth consecutive victory on Monday night in the regular season will see it pitted against a Reno 1868 FC side that sits No. 5 in the new USLSoccer.com Power Rankings, where the past weekend’s results have seen some shifts below the Monarchs and San Antonio FC in the top two spots.
Slotting into the No. 3 spot is Louisville City FC, which jumped into being a unanimous selection after a second consecutive 3-0 victory that extended the club’s winning streak to three games following another impressive performance on Saturday against the Pittsburgh Riverhounds. That bumps current Eastern Conference leaders the Charleston Battery down to No. 4 after their 2-2 draw with FC Cincinnati, with their meeting on July 8 at MUSC Health Stadium gearing up to be one of the biggest games of the season.
Reno is joined in making a solid move up the rankings by the Rochester Rhinos, who claim the No. 6 spot after extending their undefeated streak to eight games following a 1-0 win against Ottawa Fury FC. The Tampa Bay Rowdies’ five-game winless streak isn’t enough to knock them from the Top 10, though, as Joe Cole and company hold onto the No. 7 spot after their late draw with Richmond.
The other side making a positive move is Bethlehem Steel FC, which moves into the No. 9 spot after its victory on Friday night against the New York Red Bulls II. With three wins in its past four games, and the chance to add to that tally on Tuesday night against the Harrisburg City Islanders, Bethlehem is a team to watch over the upcoming week.
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 (48pts)
Last Week: Bye
The Monarchs will look to regain top spot in the Western Conference on Monday night after being overtaken by San Antonio FC on Saturday. Reno will provide a serious test at Rio Tinto Stadium, but neutrals will be hoping for similar fireworks than those that occurred when the sides first met, when the Monarchs took a 5-3 victory. Repeat that result, and Real enters the record books, passing 2014’s Orlando City SC squad that also claimed eight consecutive victories.
2. San Antonio FC (47pts)
Last Week: W 3-1 vs. Tulsa Roughnecks FC
A victory against the Roughnecks saw San Antonio lose its shutout streak, but gain a point as it now sits on top of two of the five ballots going into this week. Kris Tyrpak’s brace was a very welcome sight for San Antonio’s fans, and now the conversation could end up being focused on two long-terms endeavors – the league shutout record of 17 held by the Rochester Rhinos, and the 22-game undefeated streak of the 2013 Richmond Kickers.
Photo courtesy Darren Abate / San Antonio FC
3. Louisville City FC (40pts)
Last Week: W 3-0 vs. Pittsburgh Riverhounds
Louisville’s last three games have seen the side notch seven goals, concede none and move into second place in the Eastern Conference. The manner of those performances, which has seen the club’s attack finally fulfill the potential it showed earlier in the season and the defense remain as reliable as it has for much of the season, should make the rest of the clubs around it nervous as to how high City’s ceiling is.
4. Charleston Battery (35pts)
Last Week: D 2-2 at FC Cincinnati
The Battery came close to a big road victory against Cincinnati, and if not for a piece of brilliance by Andrew Wiedeman might have earned it. Instead, Charleston returns to MUSC Health Stadium to face Toronto FC II this Saturday before a key run of games that see the Battery host the Tampa Bay Rowdies and Louisville City FC, and then visit Saint Louis FC on consecutive Saturdays.
5. Reno 1868 FC (23pts)
Last Week: Bye
Thanks to results further down the standings, Reno remains in fourth place in the Western Conference as it goes into Monday’s must-see clash with Real Monarchs SLC. With a visit to Portland also on the docket this week, the chance to not only play spoiler at Rio Tinto Stadium, but also bolster the club’s position overall is a major carrot dangling in front of Head Coach Ian Russell’s squad.
Photo courtesy David Calvert / Reno 1868 FC
6. Rochester Rhinos (22pts)
Last Week: W 1-0 vs. Ottawa Fury FC
The Rhinos’ push forward saw them take a third consecutive 1-0 victory, with Ottawa the latest playoff contender to suffer defeat at Capelli Sport Stadium. Rochester’s undefeated streak has now reached eight games, and a four-point gap to the Tampa Bay Rowdies and four games in hand on the Florida club, a place in the top three is beckoning.
7. Tampa Bay Rowdies (20pts)
Last Week: D 1-1 at Richmond Kickers
The footsteps are getting closer for the Rowdies, who fell out of the top two thanks to Louisville’s win against Pittsburgh and Franck Tayou’s last-minute equalizer for the Richmond Kickers against Tampa Bay on Saturday night at City Stadium. The Rowdies are now winless in five games, and with games against the Charleston Battery and FC Cincinnati coming after their visit to Pittsburgh on Thursday, a win soon is starting to look essential.
8. Swope Park Rangers (13pts)
Last Week: D 2-2 vs. Phoenix Rising FC
The Rangers will probably feel they should have taken a victory against Rising FC on Sunday evening, but with one win in the past five games Swope Park will need to take care of its games in hand on the competition. Colorado Springs’ visit on Wednesday night is starting to look like a very important game for both clubs, but by the time the night is over Swope Park could be sitting third in the standings if things go its way.
Photo courtesy Chris Ortiz / Swope Park Rangers
T-9. Bethlehem Steel FC (9pts)
Last Week: W 2-0 at New York Red Bulls II
If there were any doubts about the potential Steel FC has, its third win in the past four games – and its first win against the New York Red Bulls II ever – should put those to rest. Bethlehem is starting to show the consistency that’s going to be needed to make a run at a playoff berth, and with a visit to Harrisburg on Tuesday night, it could close the gap between itself and the third-place Tampa Bay Rowdies even closer.
T-9. Rio Grande Valley FC (9pts)
Last Week: L 1-0 vs. LA Galaxy II
The Toros just remain in the rankings, but the inconsistency they’re showing of late is a concern. The Galaxy II took four points from their two visits to H-E-B Park this season, a sign they may be turning a corner, but also that Rio Grande Valley isn’t quite the same team it was a season ago just yet. Getting something out of Wednesday’s trip to Sacramento would be a positive turn, but as packed as the middle of the Western Conference is right now, a run of three or four consistent performances is likely what the Toros are looking for.
Also receiving votes – Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC 3, OKC Energy FC 2, Sacramento Republic FC 2, Ottawa Fury FC 1, Pittsburgh Riverhounds 1