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USL eCup Tournament Preview: Groups 5-8

By NICHOLAS MURRAY - nicholas.murray@uslsoccer.com, 03/31/20, 7:58PM EDT

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Everything you need to know as four more groups get set to blast off this Thursday

5…4…3…2…1… Liftoff!

The USL eCup: Rocket League Edition takes flight this afternoon at 1 p.m. ET with six contests kicking off the opening day of group action.

We’ve already looked at the 16 other teams that will be competing in the tournament in Groups 1-4 here, so here’s a look at the rest of the field aiming to lift the cup.

Group 5

New York Red Bulls II – Captain: Preston Kilwien (Xbox); Cause: Wings For Life
North Texas SC – Captain: Jacob Walraven (PS4); Cause: FC Dallas Foundation
Richmond Kickers – Captain: Taylor Bostic (PS4); Cause: Feed More Richmond
Saint Louis FC – Captain: Keith Mayfield (PC); Cause: STL Area Foodbank

Overview: Given his gaming history – and backing from well-known soccer and esports writer Jon Arnold – it’s hard to look past North Texas SC’s Jacob Walraven as the favorite to advance here, but Saint Louis’ Keith Mayfield could be a dark horse to challenge for top spot. If everything goes to plan for both, they will square off for first place in the final match of the group stage. The pressure will be on New York’s Preston Kilwien and Richmond’s Taylor Bostic to avoid falling behind in Thursday’s opening round of action.

Group of Death Rating: 3
Predicted Order of Finish: 1. NTX, 2. STL, 3. NY, 4. RIC

Broadcast Schedule
Thursday, April 2:
STLvNY, 2 p.m. ET; NTXvRIC, 3 p.m. ET
Monday, April 6: RICvSTL, 5 p.m. ET; NYvNTX, 6 p.m. ET
Wednesday, April 8: STLvNTX, 2 p.m. ET; NYvRIC, 2 p.m. ET

Group 6

Hartford Athletic – Captain: Damon Gray (PS4); Cause: Foodshare
Loudoun United FC – Captain: Brandon Williamson (PS4); Cause: Tourism and Hospitality Relief Fund (Comm. Foundation of London / Visit Loudoun)
OKC Energy FC – Captain: Billy Walton (Xbox); Cause: Energy Assist Foundation
Union Omaha – Captain: Jake Mickleson (PS4); Cause: Omaha Foundation

Overview: This might be the hardest group to predict outside of Group 4, with all four players bringing something to the table in the quest to advance. If there is an outsider, it might be Energy FC’s Billy Walton – as we’ve said before, PR people and online gaming just don’t seem to mix – but the other clubs are still going to have to prove their worth over the opening three games to see if a true contender will emerge from the pack.

Group of Death Rating: 9
Predicted Order of Finish: 1. HFD, 2. OMA, 3. LDN, 4. OKC

Broadcast Schedule
Thursday, April 2:
OMAvHFD, 4 p.m. ET; LDNvOKC, 5 p.m. ET
Monday, April 6: HFDvLDN, 2 p.m. ET; OKCvOMA, 7 p.m. ET
Wednesday, April 8: OMAvLDN, 3 p.m. ET; HFDvOKC, 3 p.m. ET

Group 7

FC Tucson – Captain: Trent Wieland (PC); Cause: Community Food Bank of Southern Arizona
Greenville Triumph SC – Captain: Chris Ashley (PS4); Cause: United Way of Greenville County
Indy Eleven – Captain: Jordan Farr (PS4); Cause: Agape International Missions
Las Vegas Lights FC – Captain: DJ Ocho (Xbox); Cause: Mayor's Fund of Las Vegas

Overview: There’s the potential for high drama in what looks like it might end up a very competitive group, with the group stage finale between Las Vegas Lights FC’s DJ Ocho and FC Tucson’s eSports wizard Trent Wieland potentially among the biggest games in the group stage. Don’t expect Indy Eleven shot-stopper Jordan Farr to be easy to beat, either, and while Greenville’s Chris Ashley might enter as a slight underdog, he could easily emulate Triumph SC’s rally to the League One Final a season ago with the right breaks of the game.

Group of Death Rating: 8
Predicted Order of Finish: 1. LV, 2. TUC, 3. IND, 4. GVL

Broadcast Schedule
Friday, April 3:
GVLvTUC, 2 p.m. ET; LVvIND, 3 p.m. ET
Tuesday, April 7: GVLvLV, 5 p.m. ET; TUCvIND, 6 p.m. ET
Friday, April 10: LVvTUC, 2 p.m. ET; INDvGVL, 2 p.m. ET

Group 8

Birmingham Legion FC – Captain: Patrick Glenn (PS4); Cause: Birmingham Strong Fund
FC Tulsa – Captain: John Horlander; Cause: Tulsa Area United Way
Forward Madison FC – Captain: Brandon Eaton (Xbox); Cause: Flock Soccer Fund
Memphis 901 FC – Captain: Raul Gonzalez; Cause: Mid South Food Bank

Overview: Memphis 901 FC has revealed midfielder Raul Gonzalez will lead the its squad into action – which means my hopes of Head Coach Tim Mulqueen getting in on the fun have been dashed – but with that news this looks like a group ripe for the taking by FC Tulsa’s John Horlander. John recently penned a tremendous story about two FC Tulsa players and their defection from Cuba, so he comes in feeling very confident about himself. But he’ll need to keep that confidence in check as he takes on Flamingos forward Brandon Eaton and Legion FC’s Patrick Glenn – both of whom possess the tools needed for an upset.

Group of Death Rating: 6
Predicted Order of Finish: 1. TUL, 2. BHM, 3. MAD, 4. MEM

Broadcast Schedule
Friday, April 3:
BHMvMAD, 4 p.m. ET; TULvMEM, 5 p.m. ET
Tuesday, April 7: BHMvTUL, 1 p.m. ET; MEMvMAD, 2 p.m. ET
Friday, April 10: MEMvBHM, 3 p.m. ET; MADvTUL, 3 p.m. ET

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