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Which Five Teams Could Challenge FC Tucson in USL eCup?

By NICHOLAS MURRAY - nicholas.murray@uslsoccer.com, 04/05/20, 2:47PM EDT

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Hieland’s credentials are impeccable, but upsets can always happen in a knockout tournament

By now, we’re all aware of the favorite to claim the USL eCup: Rocket League Edition.

FC Tucson’s Trent Wieland not only has the resume of a champion, but his opening performance left little doubt that he’s the player to beat as the tournament moves on.

But what of the rest of the field? Is there anyone else in the field that can throw a wrench into this online wrecking machine?

Probably not, to be honest.

But, since for every 2016 New York Red Bulls II there is a 2018 FC Cincinnati, here goes on the teams that might have a chance. 

Tacoma Defiance
Tacoma Defiance
Josh Atencio
W, v. LOU | 4-0, 3-0

Going simply off the opening round of action, the obvious choice from Group 1 would be Reno 1868 FC, which racked up 3,870 game points, but I’m going for the talents of Josh Atencio due to the two-way ability he showed in defeating Louisville City FC. Seven goals might not be enough to challenge Wieland, but Atencio’s tenacity in producing five saves shows the sort of timing that could pay off well down the line in this tournament.

Charleston Battery
Charleston Battery
Mauro Cichero
W, v. ATX | 10-1, 8-3

There was no other way to describe Mauro Cichero’s first performance in Battery colors as a rousing success, and he fits the profile of the two-way player we’re looking for that can hold his own at both ends of the arena. Cichero didn’t put up big goal numbers with 18 tallies against Austin Bold FC, but his six saves put him above 3,000 game points for his two performances, a solid threshold for success in this tournament.

Charleston Battery
Loudoun United FC
Brandon Williamson
W, v. OKC | 14-0, 10-1

There were some impressive performances put forward by players representing their clubs in the opening round of action – see Mauro Cichero for the Charleston Battery listed above as well as Jordan Farr for Indy Eleven and Joey Farrell for Phoenix Rising FC – and Brandon Williamson’s display was one that really caught our eye. No, the competition wasn’t good, but there looks to be something solid here, and ending up on the opposite side of the bracket from Tucson with victory in the group wouldn’t hurt either.

San Antonio FC
San Antonio FC
Josh Richards
W, v. ELP | 9-3, 10-0

OK, so the defensive numbers weren’t quite there, but the attacking ability former SAFC Elite Academy player Josh Richards showed in his opening game while racking up 27 goals sure were impressive. This group could come down to the South Texas Derby in the final match of Week 2 against Rio Grande Valley FC, and call it a hunch, but we think Richards has what it takes to come through to take top spot and earn a favorable route to a potential showdown with Tucson in the Final.

Birmingham Legion FC
Birmingham Legion FC
Kaylor Hodges
W, v. MAD | 11-0, 14-1

There’s definitely been some success for clubs that have looked beyond their playing staffs for captains to turn the sticks over to so far, and Legion FC’s Kaylor Hodges came through with flying colors to put up the third-highest game totals of any player outside Wieland in the opening round of games. The next matchup against FC Tulsa is going to be key as to who takes top spot in the group, but Hodges’ scoring efficiency – 25 goals on 27 shots – and three saves and only one goal conceded against Forward Madison FC painted him as a contender.

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