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USL Power Rankings: Charleston’s Nick Markanich keeps scoring, the chaotic West & more from Week 9

After nine weeks of USL Championship action, we're ranking every team in the league.

20 min read
Design: Peyton Gallaher

As the USL Championship flies towards the quarter mark of the season, a few big trends are starting to emerge. Four clubs in the East are in the black in terms of goal difference, and they’ll be difficult to displace in the race for home field advantage. The West is more chaotic, but stalwarts like Sacramento and Orange County look to be leading contenders yet again.

It’s been a year of high-volume scoring from the league’s best attackers. Nick Markanich has more goals than any other forward in America at any level, but Wilson Harris started equally hot and is liable to catch up with a hat trick on any given Saturday. MLS Next Pro imports like MD Myers and Remi Cabral are quickly proving their mettle — and possibly strengthening that talent pipeline — as well.

With Week Nine in the books, who else is solidifying themself as a possible contender, and who may be out of the race? Let’s dig in. 

1. Charleston (No change)

Result: 1-0 win v. Hartford

Ben Pirmann is doing very interesting tactical things every week, and Charleston is so good because they've got 11 grinders on the pitch at all times. But Nick Markanich simply cannot be ignored. Now on 12 goals in 10 league games, the winger is undeniably the hottest player in the USL, and he's driving this team's success.

Beyond the acrobatic finish that gave Charleston their lead on Saturday, Markanich was a vital piece used to break down a shifted Hartford team. The guests tended to hedge towards the Battery left, and Markanich — the right-sided attacker — could then tuck inside into the halfspace to carve out touches. When Markanich got the ball, his slaloming movement on the edge of the box exerted massive gravity on the Hartford defense, opening up space for teammates.

It only ended as a one-goal win in the end, but Markanich and his teammates dominated the run of play. Even when Hartford pressed up, they couldn't gain a foothold. Charleston is fiercely difficult to beat; it’s why they’re the class of the USL.

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