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USL Power Rankings: A dark day for Indy Eleven, goals galore & more from Week 8

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

23 min read
Design: Peyton Gallaher

This week was significant in two ways for the USL: League One inaugurated the intra-division Jagermeister Cup, and the Indy Eleven saw their stadium project halted by the specter of an MLS bid. 

It’s a set of developments that illustrates the potential and the pitfalls facing the USL in 2024. A prospering, growing third division is helping the organization to expand its reach across the country. The new in-season tournament can be a source of excitement for fans, has already drawn an international sponsor, and is likely to expand to include the USL Championship in future seasons.

By contrast, Indy – who had broken ground on a stadium as part of a $1.5 billion entertainment and commerce project – were caught out when city hall decided to withhold final approvals for the development. Mayor Joe Hogsett announced on Thursday that he had met with MLS commissioner Don Garber regarding an expansion franchise in the first tier and intended to re-route the funding to that group if a bid could come together.

As healthy as the USL can look when it airs games on CBS or announces flashy expansion teams in New York City, it still faces hurdles in its growth. Indy Eleven could cease to exist if the mayor gets his way, and other clubs in cities like Phoenix, Detroit, or Tampa Bay could face similar challenges. Still, the league is working to build in new revenue streams, bolster its legitimacy, and get over the hump. The Jagermeister Cup is part of that process.

Looking towards the field, there were games to play, and all 24 USL Championship clubs were in action over the weekend. How’d the games play out, and who gained in the rankings as a result? Let’s dig in.

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1. Charleston (No change)

Result: 6-0 win v. Las Vegas

Even the best clubs need to grind out a result from time to time. Battling for three points and showing some heart can be a good sign and galvanize your locker room! 

A four-goal lead after 37 minutes is preferable every single time, and that's what Charleston had at home against Las Vegas on Saturday. The Battery's approach was a patient one: they absorbed pressure early knowing full well that they could pick their moments on the counter. By the time the fourth goal hit the back of the net, central defenders Graham Smith and Leland Archer had registered 11 defensive actions without looking overmatched.

Whenever Charleston re-gained, they mercilessly worked over the Lights' press into the heart of the attacking half. Clever cuts inside from Nick Markanich and essential linking from Emilio Ycaza were drivers as always, and their interchange in transition caused a number of mortal miscommunications from the guests.

Charleston had played the most games in the USL coming into the weekend, and they've got an Open Cup bout fast approaching. Being able to coast to a win is a luxury for a team that's run the gauntlet in 2024.

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