Preseason camps kicked off for a few USL Championship teams this week, and the regular season is less than two months away. There’s still plenty of work to be done and plenty of signings to come, but many clubs are nearly done with their moves and tweaks, which means it’s as good a time as any to see where things stand as the offseason enters its home stretch.
Who’s looking like a contender, and who’s on track to take a step back? Let’s dig into USL Power Rankings, winter edition.
1. Sacramento Republic
The Republic finished on top of the West with ease in 2023, and they’ve returned almost their entire core for the year ahead.
A full season of a healthy Rodrigo Lopez and a full winter to integrate Cristian Parano will only help the cause, as will the additions of League One Golden Boot winner Trevor Amann and industrious wingback Jonathan Ricketts. Expectations should be sky-high in Sacramento. No one else in the conference has made a convincing case that they’ll top Sacramento in the regular season.
2. Charleston Battery
After a first season for Ben Pirmann that ended in a conference title, Charleston struck quickly in the free agent market, adding former all-leaguers Aaron Molloy to the midfield and Graham Smith to the backline. MLS hit the Battery hard, however, plucking away winger Fidel Barajas, right back Derek Dodson, and goalkeeper Trey Muse. Star striker Augustine Williams is out as well.
Nevertheless, the combination of the USL’s best manager in Pirmann and tremendous depth in the middle of the park leave the Battery as a force to be reckoned with.
3. Louisville City
LouCity is a byword for consistency, forged by a consistent tactical identity and the retention of a familiar group supplemented with a few tweaks each year. The 2024 offseason has fit that mold, but the additions have been game-changing.
Arturo Ordonez, the reigning USL Defender of the Year, will freshen up the back three. In the midfield, all-USL No. 8 Taylor Davila will bring varied creation and ceaseless effort. Out wide, Sam Gleadle and Adrien Perez are proven dynamos at the wingback spots. Some of the losses – think Cameron Lancaster and Oscar Jimenez – will hurt for sentimental reasons, but Louisville looks as strong on paper as they have in years.