It’s a brand-new addition to the smallworld power rankings lineup: the South Atlantic Division of USL League Two!
One of the most intriguing conferences in lower-league soccer, this division stretches from Tennessee to Virginia by way of Charleston, WV and the Raleigh triangle.
It’s home to some of the best summer soccer on the east coast, and we’re excited to cover it with power rankings over the next couple of months.
For those who are new to the format or new to smallworld, power rankings are released every Monday morning and highlight the past week with the rankings themselves (complete with analysis and reasoning), a look at the actual standings, and what matches are ahead for the coming week.
Let’s get into the action, as we pick up on the South Atlantic after week 6.
- West Virginia United, +0 from last week (W 1-0 over VA Beach AND W 4-2 over Lionsbridge). Formerly known as West Virginia Alliance (and a previous name years before), United have a new identity on and off the pitch. Their visual branding is clean, and they’ve transformed their play from abysmal, lose-every-week type or results to being the division leaders and national title contenders. They’ve already beaten Lionsbridge, one of their two biggest title rivals, and it feels like they’re in the drivers seat. As someone with West Virginian heritage and having been there before, it’s so cool to see a club from the state start to turn around the notion that soccer doesn’t work there.
- NC Fusion U23, +0 from last week (W 7-1 over Tobacco). I’ve had the chance to see Fusion in person, and they really look the part of a title contender. Even if they don’t manage to upend WVU for the regular season title and fend off Lionsbridge, they could still very possibly sneak into the national playoffs as a wild card if they can keep hold of second. There’s a lot of soccer to play before that conversation, of course, but a 7-1 win always brings those thoughts to the forefront. Fusion can play with anybody in USL League Two.
- Lionsbridge FC, +0 from last week (W 2-0 over Otters AND L 2-4 to WV United). Lionsbridge have a solid resume to date, only losing to Fusion and now WV so far. They’re beating the second-class clubs in the league and seem to be clear-cut third for now. The next step is taking points from matches against the top two, which has been just out of their reach so far. There are plenty of matches for someone above them to slip up, though, and if that’s to happen, Lionsbridge will be ready to pounce.
- Virginia Beach United, +0 from last week (L 0-1 to WV United AND D 1-1 with Otters). This wasn’t the best weekend for the beach boys. They’re still solidly in fourth, and the loss to WVU was respectable, but drawing with the Otters at home is less than ideal. They’ll hope to be more clinical in the coming matchdays as more difficult fixtures arise.
- Wake FC, +0 from last week (D 2-2 with NCFC). This was an underwhelming performance from Wake. They should be beating NCFC, a side who have struggled on both sides of the ball, but it’s especially inexcusable for Wake considering they were at home. If they have any hope of cracking the top two and finding a playoff spot, they can’t give up points like that. A more reasonable goal seems to be a top-half finish for the boys from Holly Springs.
- Tobacco Road FC, +0 from last week (L 1-7 to Fusion). Oh boy. This one isn’t hard to dissect; Tobacco Road played poorly against a high-quality team, and that’s the scoreline you get from that scenario. The morale drop should be tough to overcome, and the goal differential setback won’t help, either.
- Tri-Cities Otters, +0 from last week (L 0-2 to Lionsbridge AND D 1-1 with VA Beach). That draw is a step in the right direction for the Johnson City club, even if it comes against a Virginia Beach side that’s in poor form. The Otters have stayed competitive with just about everyone they’ve faced, and their defensive record is stellar (7 goals conceded in 5 matches). It’s not out of the question that they climb up the table and find themselves somewhere near the top half if they can get some results to go their way.
- North Carolina FC U23, +0 from last week (D 2-2 with Wake). When a draw at home against a mid-table side is unexpectedly good, you know something’s wrong. This isn’t NCFC’s year thus far, and if they don’t turn things around, they could be cellar dwellers once the summer is over.
- West Virginia United – 16 pts, +8 GD. Form: WWDWW
- NC Fusion U23 – 15 pts, +17 GD. Form: WWWLD
- Lionsbridge FC – 13 pts, +9 GD. Form: WLWWL
- Virginia Beach United – 9 pts, +1 GD. Form: WWLLD
- Wake FC – 5 pts, -3 GD. Form: DLLWD
- Tri-Cities Otters – 4 pts, +0 GD. Form: LLWLD
- Tobacco Road FC – 4 pts, -14 GD. Form: LWDLL
- North Carolina FC U23 – 3 pts, -18 GD. Form: LLLWD
Here’s what to expect in the coming week:
next week’s matches
8) NCFC v 6) Tobacco
Prediction: NCFC 2 – 3 Tobacco
2) Fusion v 5) Wake
Prediction: Fusion 4 – 1 Wake
1 ) WV United v 7) Otters
Prediction: WVU 3-0 Otters
3) Lionsbridge v 6) Tobacco
Prediction: Lionsbridge 2 – 0 Tobacco
8) NCFC v 1) WV United
Prediction: NCFC 1 – 5 WVU
4) VA Beach v 2) Fusion
Prediction: VBU 0 – 2 Fusion
The playoffs are hard to qualify for in USL League Two; only the division winner automatically advances. Two of the three second-placed division finishers from each region will advance as well, and there are no division playoffs. Everything is decided in the regular season.
With that said, keep your eyes peeled on the top three and how they fare in some lighter matchups this week. They’ll need maximum points to bolster their respective positions!
Thanks for reading this week’s power rankings, and we hope to see you back here every Monday morning for weekly coverage of this and other great lower-league soccer divisions!
Stay weird and support local soccer!