Saturday, September 6, 2008
Power Rankings -- Week 2
So a very unexpected batch of results have really thrown pretty much all theories into the wind since as always, nothing can ever seem to go even remotely like one might predict in advance when it comes to the USCL. My rankings this week will probably be quite puzzling to some, as some teams who won I've moved down from last week and some who've lost, I moved up. Simply put though, the amount of information one can really derive from two matches is fairly limited so a large amount of personal opinion and speculation will have to be mixed in to try to guess what's really going on.
1st: Miami Sharks (2.0 – 0.0) (+3 from last week). Already a ranking which some might find to be unusual from me as typically when two teams have the same result (as Miami did with Boston and Queens), and the latter teams are ahead in the rankings to start the week, I tend to maintain that order in the following week. However, Miami has really come screaming out of the blocks, demolishing two teams who I guessed to be likely playoff bound at the beginning of the season. Add to that the fact that Miami has had a tendency to start slowly (as they did in the previous two seasons, unlike one of their counterparts Boston, who has started 2 – 0 in each of the last three seasons). Given those two facts, their start seems something to take special note of so I'll give them the top spot this week.
2nd: Boston Blitz (2.0 – 0.0) (+0). The Blitz are one of the few teams which have mostly gone as expected, especially this week taking care of business as usual against Carolina. A nice start as normal, but next week will be anything but business as usual when they seek a probably long awaited revenge from the 2007 Final against the Dallas Destiny.
3rd: San Francisco Mechanics (1.5 – 0.5) (-2). A bit of a stumble this week from the Mechanics, but that's all it really seems to be to me at first glance, a small stutter step. Their upcoming Monday showdown with the red hot Sharks who have twice spoiled a Mechanics' playoff run should be quite enlightening in telling us which path each team is really going to take this season.
4th: Queens Pioneers (2.0 – 0.0) (-1). So Queens won, and I still moved them down? Unfair perhaps, but at this point, I simply am not prepared to put them ahead of any of the top three teams. They do seem to be validating my pre-season faith in them in basically the way I expected, but of course still a very long way to go.
5th: Dallas Destiny (1.0 – 1.0) (+2). A big sigh of relief for the defending Champions as most seemed to think they were likely headed to an 0 – 2 start and if they had done so, being in that spot, with a showdown with a Blitz team primed for revenge upcoming, would not have been an enviable position to be in. Like most teams, the next couple of weeks should be very telling as to what Dallas will be fighting for this year as they face the two current league leading teams in Boston and Miami.
6th: Philadelphia Inventors (1.0 – 1.0) (+3). Another team which probably heaved a sigh of relief as they too would not have wanted to ride last year's success into an 0 – 2 start in this one. They also have some very tough tasks ahead, facing a Knights team which eliminated them from the post-season last year and is probably in semi-desperation mode already followed by the always super strong Mechanics.
7th: Arizona Scorpions (1.0 – 1.0) (-1). An obvious disappointment for the Scorpions who seemed on paper to have a very real chance of flying out of the gates with a 2 – 0 start. One of the signs of how good a team really is can often be how well they can respond to adversity as this seems to be the first real stumbling block for them, and obviously they cannot allow it to consume them when they take on Queens next week who will be looking to take the league lead.
8th: New Jersey Knockouts (1.0 – 1.0) (-3). After a powerful display by their youth to hold down the fort when their leader uncharacteristically stumbled in Week 1, unfortunately the Knockouts reverted back to the pattern which left them out of the postseason last year in Week 2. Disappointing of course, but they clearly have what it takes to win in both places, they merely need to find the will to be able to do so and suddenly a very different team might emerge.
9th: Chicago Blaze (0.5 – 1.5) (+4). After a string of adversity, a very promising result for the Blaze, holding a powerful Mechanics lineup to a standstill. Undoubtedly, this was something they really needed to help get themselves back on track, and we can see if they can build on this and perhaps turn in some victories as they next face two of the currently lowest teams in Tennessee and Seattle.
10th: Carolina Cobras (1.0 – 1.0) (+2). My basic stance on the Cobras has been that I need to see them have some good results in situations where they don't go in with a rating advantage before I can establish some real faith in them. While they didn't manage to do so this week, if they had any time to try to convince me of this, it would be when they face the two teams most reeling at the moment in Baltimore and New York in their next matches.
11th: Baltimore Kingfishers (0.0 – 2.0) (+0). While an 0 – 2 start is obviously not a good thing, it still doesn't seem quite like panic time for the Kingfishers. They've still had very positive results on the top board, and this week in particular, things very easily could have gone slightly differently for them to win the match, with some tragic blunders causing losses on the middle two boards (in fairness though, that may also have been the cause of their bottom board victory). Again, not a time to panic, just to try to finish their games off better, and their record will improve in a hurry.
12th: Seattle Sluggers (0.5 – 1.5) (-3). Undoubtedly a huge disappointment for the Sluggers in not being able to score the full point against a team they've dominated in earlier meetings while also enjoying a huge rating advantage. Like Baltimore, I definitely don't think it's time for them to panic, they just need to push things up a notch as in their later matches, they won't have the luxury of a mathematical edge built in to work with.
13th: Tennessee Tempo (0.5 – 1.5) (+1). In contrast to their opponents, a very positive result from the Tempo, snaring a half a point from a team which had thoroughly dominated them in previous meetings, despite missing both of their top players. While a positive result is always good, Tennessee must begin to string together such results if they want to be playoff contenders and naturally starting off at a big rating disadvantage all the time isn't conducive to that. I know they, like me, are eagerly anticipating the arrival of GM Ehlvest to the lineup when the new Tempo team might take the League by storm.
14th: New York Knights (0.0 – 2.0) (-6). Another ranking which might surprise some people. After all, New York starting off the season poorly is more of a habit than a surprise isn't it? While that is true, even when they started poorly, they didn't tend to really get blown out of their matches, which to me is really what has happened in both matches thus, with the overall result never really having been in question. Plus, I've always been a fan of the theory that if you always live on the edge, someday you're going to fall off, and the Knights can't continue to hope a heroic late season surge will always be enough for them to overcome the odds and slip into the post-season.