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USL eCup Tournament Preview – Groups 1-4

By NICHOLAS MURRAY - nicholas.murray@uslsoccer.com, 03/31/20, 8:02PM EDT

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

5…4…3…2…1… Liftoff!

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

As we count down to launch, here’s a look ahead at Groups 1 through 4, and what could be in store over the next month of action.

Group 1

Louisville City FC – Captain: Sean Totsch (Xbox); Cause: One Louisville Covid-19 Emergency Response Fund
North Carolina FC – Captain: Ryan Jernigan (Xbox); Cause: North Carolina FC Youth Financial Aid Fund
Reno 1868 FC – Captain: Kevin Bass (PS4); Cause: Food Bank of Northern Nevada
Tacoma Defiance – Captain: Josh Atencio (Xbox); Cause: United Way of Pierce County

Overview: Louisville City FC and captain Sean Totsch look like the favorites in Group 1, and he’ll be looking to get on the board quickly against young Tacoma Defiance attacker Josh Atencio in the opening round of games. A victory there would set himself up nicely and could make the final group stage game between Tacoma and North Carolina FC’s Ryan Jernigan the decider for which side will advance in second. As for Reno’s Kevin Bass, despite a vote of confidence from USL V.P. of Communications Ryan Madden on Twitter, it looks like it will be an uphill climb for the lone PS4 player against the trio of Xbox warriors.

Group of Death Rating: 7
Predicted Order of Finish: 1. LOU, 2. TAC, 3. NC, 4. RNO

Broadcast Schedule
Wednesday, April 1: NCvRNO, 1 p.m. ET; LOUvTAC, 6 p.m. ET
Monday, April 6: LOUvNC, 1 p.m. ET; RNOvTAC, 6 p.m. ET
Thursday, April 9: NCvTAC, 2 p.m. ET; RNOvLOU, 2 p.m. ET

Group 2

Austin Bold FC – Captain: Andrew Green (PC); Cause: Central Texas Foodbank
Charleston Battery – Captain: Mauro Cichero (PS4); Cause: MUSC Foundation
Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC – Captain: Dillon Wavra (PC); Cause: Care and Share Food Bank of Southern Colorado
South Georgia Tormenta FC – Captain: Daniel Jackson (Xbox); Cause: The Ibis Foundation

Overview: The pressure is going to be on Austin Bold FC captain Andrew Green to live up to the pre-tournament hype, but it looks as though he got a pretty favorable draw to secure passage into the knockout stages. It’ll be anyone’s guess as to who joins him there, but the hunch here is that Dillon Wavra takes victory in his opening two games against Tormenta FC’s Daniel Jackson and Charleston’s Mauro Cichero and sets up a winner-take-all showdown in the final game of the group round.

Group of Death Rating: 5
Predicted Order of Finish: 1. ATX, 2. COS, 3. TRM, 4. CHS

Broadcast Schedule
Thursday, April 2:
ATXvCHS, 1 p.m. ET; COSvTRM, 6 p.m. ET
Monday, April 6: ATXvTRM, 3 p.m. ET; CHSvCOS, 4 p.m. ET
Thursday, April 9: ATXvCOS, 3 p.m. ET; CHSvTRM, 3 p.m. ET

Group 3

Philadelphia Union II – Captain: Evan Slabicki (Xbox); Cause: City Team - Chester
Phoenix Rising FC – Captain: Joey Farrell (PS4); Cause: Arizona COVID-19 Community Response Fund
San Diego Loyal SC – Captain: Andrew Vassiliadis (Xbox); Cause: Feeding San Diego
Toronto FC II – Captain: Kevin Silva (PS4); Cause: Second Harvest

Overview: One of the most keenly-anticipated group stage games kicks off the action Day 2 of the tournament with San Diego Loyal SC’s Andrew Vassiliadis set to take on Phoenix Rising FC’s Joey Farrell in a contest that could be the greatest Rocket League group stage match ever played. Toronto FC II’s Kevin Silva will try to adapt his shot-stopping moves to the digital forum, but it’s hard to envision either he or Philadelphia Union II’s Evan Slabicki getting past the two tournament favorites.

Group of Death Rating: 4
Predicted Order of Finish: 1. SD, 2. PHX, 3. TOR, 4. PHI

Broadcast Schedule
Wednesday, April 1:
PHXvSD, 2 p.m. ET; PHIvTOR, 3 p.m. ET
Tuesday, April 7: PHXvTOR, 7 p.m. ET; SDvPHI, 8 p.m. ET
Thursday, April 9: PHXvPHI, 4 p.m. ET; SDvTOR, 4 p.m. ET

Group 4

El Paso Locomotive FC – Captain: Logan Ketterer (Xbox); Cause: El Paso Food and Beverage Workers Fund
Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC – Captain: Kenardo Forbes (PS4); Cause: AHN COVID-19 Assistance Fund
Rio Grande Valley FC – Captain: Anarbol Villarreal (PS4); Cause: RGV Food Bank
San Antonio FC – Captain: Josh Richards (Xbox); Cause: Spurs Give

Overview: Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC’s Kenardo Forbes has always had nifty footwork in midfield, but now he’s tasked with delivering a Texas Three-Step in order to find a way into the knockout stage of what looks like a highly competitive group. Awaiting the three-time All-League selection is one of the Championship’s shutout leaders in 2019 in Locomotive FC’s Logan Ketterer, and two potential ringers from Rio Grande Valley FC and San Antonio FC. Winning on opening day could be essential to advancement in this group.

Group of Death Rating: 10
Predicted Order of Finish: 1. PIT, 2. ELP, 3. RGV, 4. SA

Broadcast Schedule
Wednesday, April 1:
PITvRGV, 4 p.m. ET; ELPvSA, 5 p.m. ET
Tuesday, April 7: PITvSA, 3 p.m. ET; RGVvELP, 4 p.m. ET
Friday, April 10: PITvELP, 4 p.m. ET; RGVvSA, 4 p.m. ET

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