The Charleston Battery and El Paso Locomotive FC put together two of the biggest attacking displays of the USL eCup: FIFA20 Edition to date as the Semifinal matchups in Division A and Division B and the Final in Division C were set in Wednesday night’s action.
1. There were two 7-1 victories in Division B on Wednesday night, one of which you might have been able to see coming, and the other… well it took my breath away at least. On the first, which saw El Paso Locomotive FC and Argentina run over Real Monarchs SLC and Switzerland, there’s a reason Edwin Moreno is the eSports manager for Locomotive FC. He’s supposed to be great at this. Playing as Argentina the last two nights, he’s looked excellent. On the other hand, the Charleston Battery putting up seven goals with Greece against Phoenix Rising FC and the Netherlands was a stunner. Battery defender Rennico Clarke can take a massive bow for that one, which earned Charleston promotion into Division A next week and a place in Thursday night’s Semifinals of the bracket.
2. You remember that show Pros vs. Joes, where somewhat athletic members of the public got to go up against actual professional athletes? Well, we kinda got that on Tuesday night, only in this case the professional athlete was playing the role of the Joe as Rio Grande Valley FC’s Kembo Kitabo – who claimed victory in the Week 1 bracket – took on New York Red Bulls eMLS player Mike LaBelle, our Pro in this instance. And, it turned up a great contest that saw Kitabo take the lead with Brazil against LaBelle’s Chile in the second half. Unfortunately, Chile then mounted a comeback that saw New York advance 2-1 with a golden goal in extra time, but Kitabo acquitted himself very well. If he’s back for the Toros in next week’s players-only bracket, he should make another run at victory.
3. Another great game was reserved for the final match to end on the night as Saint Louis FC’s Kyle Morton and France claimed a 3-2 win against Austin Bold FC’s Valeri Saramutin and Italy to earn a spot in the Division A Semifinals. Both sides held the lead with Austin going on top before Saint Louis rallied to take the lead early in the second half. Bold FC hit back to level the score again midway through the second half, but a nice piece of teamwork with less than 15 minutes to go by Morton saw STLFC regain the lead before holding off Austin’s advances down the stretch.
- We got a rematch of one of the best games in Week 1 in Division A on Wednesday night we OKC Energy FC and Portugal took on Union Omaha and Norway for a spot in the Semifinals. Instead of the close battle we got last time around, however, Energy FC staffer Josh Snodgrass looked sharp in a 4-1 victory that opened with a superlative finish and ended with a run of four consecutive goals.
- Hartford Athletic didn’t have Tyreke Johnson to rely on in its matchup with Greenville Triumph SC, but Kamer Nuhiu picked up the controller instead and still rolled Scotland to a 3-0 victory against opponent Giovanny Cañas and Poland to put the Athletic in contention to take top spot in the overall points leaderboard at the end of Week 2. If Harford gets past Saint Louis FC on Thursday night and into the Division A Final, it will be certain of reaching 1,500 points for the tournament.
- As previously mentioned, Division B had two remarkable results, but it also saw the New England Revolution II’s John Oliveira rally for a last-minute victory with Russia against the Philadelphia Union II and Spain. Oliveira’s experience in eMLS certainly felt like it came through in the clutch here.
- Then in the lower half of Division B’s bracket, Sacramento Republic FC’s Justin Sterk took a solid 3-1 win with Mexico against the Tampa Bay Rowdies’ Carlos Rueda and Colombia. As solid as Rueda had looked in taking victory on Tuesday night, Republic FC might be a dark horse for this week’s title if it can get past the surging Charleston Battery and Rennico Clarke on Thursday night.
- Our first Final for Friday night was settled in Division C, and the matchup between Indy Eleven’s Connor Swatts and Cote D’Ivoire and the LA Galaxy II’s Bruce Martin and Sweden looks like it could be a good one. The Eleven picked up where they left off on Monday night with a 6-0 win against FC Tucson and the Czech Republic, while Los Dos picked up a pair of late goals to defeat Birmingham Legion FC and Ireland by a 3-1 scoreline.
- Can momentum be a thing in eSports? Maybe, maybe not. On one hand, three of the four players that competed in Division B on Tuesday night also took victory on Wednesday to advance. On the other hand, things were split in Division A with two teams that earned byes into the quarterfinals coming out on top and two teams that advanced on Tuesday night joining them in Thursday’s Semifinals.
OKC Energy FC (Portugal) 4, Union Omaha (Norway) 1
New York Red Bulls II (Chile) 2, Rio Grande Valley FC (Brazil) 1
Saint Louis FC (France) 3, Austin Bold FC (Italy) 2
Hartford Athletic (Scotland) 3, Greenville Triumph SC (Poland) 1
New England Revolution II (Russia) 2, Philadelphia Union II (Spain) 1
El Paso Locomotive FC (Argentina) 7, Real Monarchs SLC (Switzerland) 1
Sacramento Republic FC (Mexico) 3, Tampa Bay Rowdies (Colombia) 1
Charleston Battery (Greece) 7, Phoenix Rising FC (Netherlands) 1
Indy Eleven (Cote D’Ivoire) 6, FC Tucson (Czech Republic) 0
LA Galaxy II (Sweden) 3, Birmingham Legion FC (Ireland) 1