What a season we’ve haad in USL Pro this year. Orlando City have been the class of the American third division for quite some time, and it culminated with their second title in three years. Meanwhile, Antigua Barracuda FC wraps up their season at the bottom of the season without a single victory or draw to show for it.
Let’s wrap these 2013 USL Pro Power Rankings the right way. Here we go! Bob Marley…send help.
1. Orlando City
For Adrian Heath’s Orlando City, USL Pro may be a tad too easy. Their playoff run this season may be a sign that they need to be in Major League Soccer. Perhaps this is the cry for help that Orlando and MLS are looking for.
On Aug. 24, the Lions opened up their playoff run with a 5-0 pummeling of the Pittsburgh Riverhounds at the Florida Citrus Bowl in Orlando, Fla. Long Tan led the way with a brace in the third and 48th minutes of play. Other goalscorers includes Renan Boufleur (5′), Dennis Chin (68′) and Anthony Pulis (80′).
Orlando’s toughest test came on Aug. 30 at the Citrus Bowl against the defending champion Charleston Battery. Tan (5′), Adama Mbengue (6′) and Chin (19′) scored for the Lions, who had to withstand a comeback rally from Charleston to prevail 3-2.
On Saturday, Orlando ran roughshod on the Charlotte Eagles, 7-4, to win the USL Pro Championship at home. Dom Dwyer was the man of the match for his golden sombrero in the 33rd, 42nd, 61st and 69th minute. Chin earned a brace in the 70th and 90th minutes and Mbengue made it 6-3 in the 85th minute of play.
Orlando finished the regular season 16-4-6 (54 points).
2. Charlotte Eagles
Mark Steffens’s Charlotte Eagles came close to pulling out a surprise run to the title but came up just short. On Aug. 24, they opened up the postseason with a 3-1 victory over the Harrisburg City Islanders. Christian Ramirez (52′), Jorge Herrera (82′) and Sam Asante (90′) were on point for the Eagles at the Skyline Sports Complex in Harrisburg, Pa.
Charlotte’s biggest victory of the season came on Aug. 31 against the Richmond Kickers. Down 1-0 a half hour in, the Eagles rallied with goals from Ramirez (31′) and Nate Thornton (38′), holding on to a 2-1 victory over Richmond at City Stadium in Richmond, Va.
Charlotte got goals from Fejiro Okiomah (20′), Christian Meza (88′) and Ramirez in the form of a brace (43′, 58′) but there was just too much Dom Dwyer for the Eagles to handle as they were blitzed, 7-4, by Orlando City at the Florida Citrus Bowl. The Eagles finished the regular season with a record of 10-5-11 (41 points).
3. Charleston Battery
Michael Anhaueser’s Charleston Battery had a sinking feeling they were going to get their comeuppance by the glamour club of this division. On Aug. 24, goals from Dane Kelly (24′) and Mike Azira (71′) powered the Battery to a 2-1 victory over the Los Angeles Blues at Blackbaud Stadium in Charleston, S.C.
The victory set up a date with the Orlando City Soccer Club on Aug. 30 at the Citrus Bowl. Azira (33′) and Amado Sanyang (60′) put on a valiant rally, but they fell short in their 3-2 defeat to the Lions. Charleston finished the regular season 13-7-6 (45 points).
4. Richmond Kickers
Leigh Cowlishaw’s Richmond Kickers will be kicking themselves for not doing enough to at least face Orlando City for a shot at the league double. The Kickers were unimpressive in their 1-0 defeat to the Dayton Dutch Lions on Aug. 24 at City Stadium. Joseph Ngwenya scored in the 66th minute of play for the Kickers in that contest.
Their unimpressive showing against Dayton was no fluke. Mike Callahan gave the Kickers a 1-0 lead in the 11th minute but they relinquished the lead 20 minutes later and fell to the Charlotte Eagles at home, 2-1. Richmond ended the regular season 15-1-10 (55 points).
5. Los Angeles Blues
Daryoush Yazdani’s Los Angeles Blues finish fifth in the USL Pro Power Rankings after staging a furious comeback late in the season to make the playoffs. Mohammad Rokinpour scored in the 84th minute against the Charleston Battery but the rally fell short as their season ended in a 2-1 defeat at Blackbaud Stadium on Aug. 24.
Los Angeles finished the regular season 11-8-7 (40 points).
6. Dayton Dutch Lions
Patrick Bal’s Dayton Dutch Lions saw their season end 1-0 to the Richmond Kickers at City Stadium on Aug. 24. The Dutch Lions end their season at 10-9-7 (37 points)
7. Harrisburg City Islanders
Bill Becher’s Harrisburg City Islanders got a goal from Lucky Mkosana in the 85th minute, but the damage has been done as they fell to the Charlotte Eagles, 3-1 on Aug. 24. Harrisburg end their season at 14-10-2 (44 points).
8. Pittsburgh Riverhounds
Justin Evans’s Pittsburgh Riverhounds saw their season come crashing down in the form of a 5-0 blowout defeat to Orlando City on Aug. 24 at the Citrus Bowl. The Hounds end their season with a record of 10-8-8 (38 points).
9. Wilmington Hammerheads
Wilmington Hammerheads manager David Irving will regret the day he allowed Tom Parratt to play a match he wasn’t supposed to appear in. The point deduction means that Wilmington were on the outside looking in. The Hammers end their season 11-11-4 (36 points).
10. VSI Tampa Bay FC
Not a bad first year for Matt Weston’s VSI Tampa Bay, who finish the season 9-12-5 (32 points). The Flames can consider their sweep of the Los Angeles Blues as the high points of their season.
11. Rochester Rhinos
Jesse Myers’s Rochester Rhinos end the season 6-10-10 (28 points) and 11th on the USL Pro Power Rankings. Rochester’s most noteworth win came on Aug. 16, when they outlasted the Phoenix FC Wolves at Reach 11 Stadium in Phoenix, Ariz. to the score of 4-3.
12. Phoenix FC Wolves
David Robertson’s Phoenix FC Wolves has had a rough first year with a record of 5-14-7 (22 points). Still, they had some notable victories, including a couple wins over the team below them.
13. Antigua Barracuda FC
0-26-0. Zero points, 11 goals forwarded, 91 goals allowed. The big question now for Adrian Whitbread’s Antigua Barracuda FC is…will they even exist next season after this hopeless campaign in 2013?