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USL Power Rankings: New Mexico rise to the top, Open Cup quarterfinals near & more from Week 18

After 18 weeks of USL Championship action, we're ranking every team in the league.

25 min read
Design: Peyton Gallaher

The July 4th holiday meant it was a week jam-packed with USL action, with four straight days of matches continuing to shake up the table. Two of the league’s three remaining U.S. Open Cup entrants dropped points. New Mexico bucked the trend and extended a growing lead atop the West. And out East, Charleston continued their return to form to stay on LouCity’s heels.

How did the rest of the slate shake out? And who’s on the rise in this week’s power rankings? Let’s dig in.

1. New Mexico (+3)

Result: 2-0 win v. Orange County

No team in the USL is better at leaving it late than New Mexico United. The last time this team took a first-half lead and cleanly saw a game through was in late May, but that's fine by Eric Quill – so long as his club keeps winning. That was the story once again against Orange County on Wednesday.

Quill trusted his back line to spearhead build-out and halt direct counter attacks, and it worked to a tee. Anthony Herbert, one of the breakout defensive stars of the campaign, was especially good. His sweeping right-footed distribution regularly activated Daniel Bruce and Avionne Flanagan in the channels, but he also put his head on the line to contest eight aerial duels.

Though attacking success was somewhat limited, New Mexico trusted their Zico Bailey-Nanan Houssou pivot to swerve between lines and spoil Orange County's man-to-man midfield system. By the second half, the dam broke. New Mexico put in two goals and never looked back.

It was a confident, patient performance, one that's characteristic of everything that makes this team so good regardless of the late victories.

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