Month: June 2020

New on SocTakes: USL Championship format yields early group standings

USL soccer will make its triumphant return, hopefully, beginning July 11 with a regionalized group system and a reduced schedule. Each team has been divided among eight groups, four for each conference, and will primarily be playing against teams in its own group. Each team will play up to 12 games against members of its group, with up to an additional four games against teams from outside the group but geographically related.

So, with that out of the way, let’s look at the groups.

Western Conference

Group A

  • Portland Timbers 2
  • Reno 1868 FC
  • Sacramento Republic FC
  • Tacoma Defiance

Group B

  • LA Galaxy II
  • Las Vegas Lights FC
  • Orange County SC
  • Phoenix Rising FC
  • San Diego Loyal SC

Group C

  • Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC
  • El Paso Locomotive FC
  • New Mexico United
  • Real Monarchs SLC

Group D

  • Austin Bold FC
  • OKC Energy FC
  • Rio Grande Valley FC
  • San Antonio FC
  • FC Tulsa

Eastern Conference

Group E

  • Indy Eleven
  • Louisville City FC
  • Saint Louis FC
  • Sporting Kansas City II

Group F

  • Hartford Athletic
  • Loudoun United FC
  • New York Red Bulls II
  • Philadelphia Union II
  • Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC

Group G

  • Birmingham Legion FC
  • Charlotte Independence
  • Memphis 901 FC
  • North Carolina FC

Group H

  • Atlanta United 2
  • Charleston Battery
  • The Miami FC
  • Tampa Bay Rowdies

Group standings

In the intro segment, you’ll notice the use of “up to” for the number of games. That’s because every team but Birmingham and Hartford have already played once, with San Diego and Tacoma playing twice before the season was postponed. As a result, those matches will either count as an in-group or out-of-group result for the new schedule. That means we actually already have some group standings.

I’m not going to flood this already lengthy article with embedded spreadsheets of every single group’s standings. I will, however, make a nice little table that includes the relevant information.

group standings
Games played against group and non-group opponents

This table shows which games played were against teams in the group (OPP) and other teams outside the group (OTH). Games highlighted in green were wins, yellow draws and red losses. From this, we can see that Groups A, B, F and H have already played one group game. Meanwhile, the majority of teams will only have three additional games against other opponents.

After the completion of the group stage, the top two teams in each group will then advance to a single-elimination bracket, reducing the playoffs from their originally scheduled 10 teams with a play-in round to eight per conference, essentially reverting to the playoff format last used in 2008.

The USL Championship format helps to reduce travel, but interestingly, they’re not going for the same single-site bubbles that MLS and the NWSL are planning, and given the recent spike in COVID-19 cases, could prove to be a more ambitious and potentially problematic system.

Regardless, the season is set to resume on the 11th, with announcements of group schedules expected this week. Stay tuned for more details as they arrive.

Follow John on Twitter: @JohnMLTX.

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