The status of the top teams in Division A remained largely unchanged on Tuesday night as only FC Tucson sprang a surprise from the new arrivals with a new hand at the controls. Elsewhere, it was a big night for Union Omaha and Greenville Triumph in the top flight, while Division B saw Las Vegas and Miami FC put up big victories.
1. We’ve said if before here, the structure of the USL eCup can be a pretty unforgiving one early in the week’s games. That proved the case on Tuesday night as the vast majority of the teams that had earned promotion in Week 3 were immediately sent back down to the division below by the teams waiting for them in Divisions A and B. All four of the teams to earn promotion into Division B were defeated, with only North Carolina FC’s Caleb Smith and Turkey putting up a solid effort in a 2-1 loss to Indy Eleven’s Colton Vincent. And of course, on top of relegation, there’s also the points deduction that goes with it, putting an extra dent in the chances of catching the top three in the overall standings.
2. The team that found itself the exception to the struggles encountered by last week’s promoted sides? Well, it might have proved a surprise initially considering FC Tucson was the fourth-place finisher in Division B last week, but a change in player paid off in a big way. Jacob Lopez and the Czech Republic put together a 3-1 victory against OKC Energy FC’s Josh Snodgrass and Portugal to solidify Tucson’s place in Division A for at least one more week and set up the chance at more points with a clash against Austin Bold FC and Italy up next on Wednesday.
3. If you were looking for a Game of the Night, well surprisingly it came in Division C where Real Monarchs SLC’s Zac Barnes and Switzerland pulled out a 4-3 victory in Golden Goal extra time against Loudoun United FC’s Mike Myers and Denmark. Loudoun had been looking for its first win of the tournament overall against the Monarchs, and must have thought it had arrived when it scored with three minutes to go in regulation, but then a 90th-minute equalizer by Real pulled United back to reality and a game-winner 21 minutes into the second game gave the Monarchs victory, a place in Division C’s Semifinals, and promotion back to Division B next week.
- Is this going to be the week for Union Omaha to make a move up the standings? Watching Damia Viader’s 7-1 victory with Norway against Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC’s Logan Nawrocki and Belgium, you got the feeling it might be. Los Buhos’ next game is key, though, with Saint Louis FC and France waiting in the Division A Quarterfinals.
- Hartford Athletic came into the week under a bit of pressure to perform, but Kamer Nujiu came through in a 3-2 extra time victory with Scotland against the Tampa Bay Rowdies’ David Morales and Colombia. The Athletic get the second-place New York Red Bulls II next, though, and need a win to try and bridge the gap to the top three.
- Big wins for Miami FC and Las Vegas Lights FC on Tuesday, with Vegas’ Jose Carrera and Uruguay lighting up Louisville City FC’s Nick Carter and Wales with a 5-1 victory and Miami’s Austin Robillard taking a 5-0 win with England against Memphis 901 FC’s Nate Deavers and Austria.
- Once again, Greenville Triumph SC’s Giovanny Canas came through to keep his side in Division A for a fourth consecutive week as he led Poland to a 4-0 win against Phoenix Rising FC’s Luke Schwartz and the Netherlands. That’s three weeks in a row Greenville has avoided relegation by claiming victory in the opening round of the top flight.
- Way to get off the slide, Orange County SC and Philadelphia Union II. Both clubs will be back in Division B next week after securing victories against Birmingham Legion FC and Tacoma Defiance respectively.
Greenville Triumph SC (Poland) 4, Phoenix Rising FC (Netherlands) 0
FC Tucson (Czech Republic) 3, OKC Energy FC (Portugal) 1
Hartford Athletic (Scotland) 3, Tampa Bay Rowdies (Colombia) 2 AET
Union Omaha (Norway) 7, Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC (Belgium) 1
Las Vegas Lights FC (Uruguay) 5, Louisville City FC (Wales) 1
Indy Eleven (Cote D’Ivoire) 2, North Carolina FC (Turkey) 1
Miami FC (England) 5, Memphis 901 FC (Austria) 0
Charlotte Independence (Germany) 3, FC Tulsa (United States) 0
LA Galaxy II (Sweden) 2, Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC (Paraguay) 1
Orange County SC (Cameroon) 1, Birmingham Legion FC (Ireland) 0 AET
Real Monarchs SLC (Switzerland) 4, Loudoun United FC (Denmark) 3 AET
Philadelphia Union II (Spain) 4, Tacoma Defiance (Slovenia) 0