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USL League One Power Rankings - Preseason

By ETHAN TRIEBSCH -, 03/08/24, 1:45PM EST


League One is back for its sixth season. Who will finish atop the table?

It's the most wonderful time of the year. USL League One is back for its sixth season with 12 teams vying for a quartet of trophies across all competitions: the USL League One Final, the USL League One Players' Shield, the USL League One cup competition and the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup.

Is Lexington legit or will Omaha continue to be the team to beat? How will new Central Valley Head Coach Jermaine Jones and expansion side Spokane fare out West? Tell us why your club should rank higher and keep the conversation going on Twitter at @USLLeagueOne.





1 Union Omaha
Week 1: ---
They didn’t win the postseason and they didn’t win the offseason, but the Players’ Shield holders will still be tough to take down. Reigning Coach of the Year Dominic Casciato and his Owls will be confident they can overcome a league-high five departures to the USL Championship. While Omaha will certainly look different than it has over the past few seasons, one thing remains clear: Bet against the Owls at your own risk.
2 Lexington SC
Week 1: v NCO
No other team in League One had a hotter offseason than Lexington SC. The second-year side is retaining over 70% of its goalscoring production from a season ago and adding Malta international Yannick Yankam and rival Louisville City FC's all-time leading scorer Cameron Lancaster, among a host of others. New Head Coach Darren Powell and Men's Sporting Director Sam Stockley have certainly put together - on paper at least - what looks to be an incredibly exciting roster.
3 Charlotte Independence
Week 1: ---
Mike Jeffries and the Jacks have quietly constructed another promising roster after falling just short of winning the League One Final four months ago. With veterans Gabriel Obertan, Miguel Ibarra, Joel Johnson and Hugh Roberts returning to team up with Goalkeeper of the Year Austin Pack, potent goalscorer Tresor Mbuyu and back-to-back Young Player of the Year finalist Omar Ciss, Charlotte will look to race to the postseason for the fifth time in its 10th season of existence
4 Northern Colorado Hailstorm FC
Week 1: @ LEX
Yes, the Hailstorm are losing their two best players in Trevor Amann and Arthur Rogers to the USL Championship but that won’t stop Northern Colorado from fighting for a spot at the top of the table in 2024. Look for Bruno Rendón, Irvin Parra, Noah Powder and Lalo Delgado to have big seasons under Head Coach Éamon Zayed.
5 Forward Madison FC
Week 1: ---
Madison really may have one of the most well-rounded rosters in the league. The ‘Mingos have reliability in goal with Bernd Schipmann and along the backline with Mitch Osmond and Timmy Mehl, they’ve brought in a number of solid midfielders, and if they can figure out how to operate with both Christian Chaney and Juan Galindrez up top, this team could do some serious damage.
6 One Knoxville SC
Week 1: ---
Knoxville joins Charlotte as the only League One club to return three or more All-League selections from a season ago as All-League First Team defender Jordan Skelton will reunite with Golden Glove winner Sean Lewis and All-League Second Team midfielder Angelo Kelly-Rosales. After scoring what was tied for the fewest goals in the league a season ago (36), Knoxville will need to figure out who will fill the shoes of its top three goal contributors from a season ago who all have departed the club.
7 Chattanooga Red Wolves SC
Week 1: ---
Chattanooga will boast the highest-scoring returning teammate tandem in the league as Chevone Marsh and Ropapa Mensah's 12 goals apiece led the club a season ago. An experienced - yet aging - midfield and attacking unit will be complemented by a crop of largely unproven youngsters looking to break out on the professional stage.
8 Richmond Kickers
Week 1: ---
I, personally, would love to see Emiliano Terzaghi ball out once again, but you’ve got to think the 31-year-old’s production will begin to dip at some point. A season after netting the third-fewest goals in the league (42), Nil Vinyals, Ryan Sierakowski, Adrian Billhardt, João Gomiero, Arthur Bosua and others will need to step up to support the League One G.O.A.T. as he chases his fifth consecutive double-digit scoring season in Richmond’s 32nd season.
9 Greenville Triumph SC
Week 1: v SPK
Losing highly productive first-year goalkeeper Jared Mazzola and club assist leader Allen Gavilanes to the USL Championship with Sacramento Republic FC and Miami FC, respectively, could be a bigger deal than people expect. That said, welcoming back lethal goalscoring tandem Leo Castro and Lyam MacKinnon along with League One legends Evan Lee, Brandon Fricke and Tyler Polak should make Rick Wright’s first year at the helm a bit easier.
10 Spokane Velocity FC
Week 1: @ GVL
I’ve got high hopes for Spokane and Head Coach Leigh Veidman in the pair’s first season. Historically, though, inaugural seasons in League One haven’t always been the kindest to first-year clubs. Since 2020, expansion sides have averaged just about eight wins and 1.23 points per match and finished around seventh or eighth in the table. Only Omaha (2020) and Charlotte (2022) have made the playoffs in their debut League One campaign.
11 South Georgia Tormenta FC
Week 1: v CV
Head Coach Ian Cameron and his Ibises will look to rebuild after losing nearly 70% of their goalscoring production from a season ago and three integral playmakers to the USL Championship. I’m looking forward to Jackson Khoury putting on a show as he aims to become the first player to be named Young Player of the Year twice.
12 Central Valley Fuego FC
Week 1: @ TRM
The best way to bounce back from the third-worst season in League One history? Go out and make a splash with one of the flashiest head coaching hires in the country and start from scratch. USMNT and German Bundesliga legend Jermaine Jones takes over in Fresno with a completely new-look roster. It will be interesting to see how Central Valley’s third season plays out with a relatively young cast eager to prove themselves. 

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