Hartford Athletic’s Tyreke Johnson pulled off a major upset as Scotland, while Miami FC and the Charlotte Independence picked up impressive wins and Union Omaha made a thrilling comeback to defeat the Tampa Bay Rowdies on the opening day of the USL eCup: FIFA20 Edition Qualifying Bracket on Monday night.
1. In real life, things have been rough for Scotland in the international arena for quite a while. UEFA even expanded the number of teams invited to EURO 2020, only for the Tartan Army to be left disappointed and miss out late last year. So, that made Tyreke Johnson of Hartford Athletic’s performance with the bonnie lads to pick up a 3-2 victory against El Paso Locomotive FC’s Alexy Bosetti and Argentina to kick off this USL eCup one that stood out. We’ll find out more as the week progresses, but Johnson looks like a gamer, taking the No. 24 seed and playing sharp, attractive football that the talent of Argentina couldn’t overcome.
2. Scotland’s win also sets up a clash with Miami FC and England in the Round of 16 after Romario Williams ran up the score against Indy Eleven and the Cote D’Ivoire with a 5-1 win that saw Indy’s Jordan Farr get two players sent off after taking the lead. Williams produced one of the goals of the day with a brilliant chip and volleyed finish by Harry Kane, who finished with a hat trick despite Williams’ failed attempt at a Panenka on one of the penalty kicks. England vs. Scotland is maybe the oldest international rivalry there is, which should make this a treat on Wednesday.
3. The Tampa Bay Rowdies and Union Omaha gave us the game of the day as Union’s Norway and Dami Viader rallied from a two-goal deficit to win 3-2 on a 90th-minute winner by Erling Haaland against the Rowdies, who had Malik Johnson playing as Colombia. Tampa Bay had taken a two-goal lead before halftime before a penalty decision went Omaha’s way and allowed Los Buhos to pull a goal back. Haaland then put home a great finish just before halftime. Both teams could have scored in the second half, but Union got the final say with seconds remaining to advance to the Round of 16.
- So, what happens when a team disconnects mid-game? We got our answer in the first set of matches on the day as the Charlotte Independence ended up taking a 5-1 victory with Germany against Louisville City FC and Wales after some technical issues. With Charlotte bagging three goals amid disconnections in the first two attempts, the teams got a full game in third time around as the Independence rallied late for a 2-1 victory. Add up all the goals, and there’s your final score.
- The immediacy of how quickly the groups of Division A, Division B and Division C are going to get assigned was the theme of Day 1, with the teams taking victory all assured of being in at least Group B and one more win carrying them into Group A. For the eight teams that suffered defeat, the wait is now on to see how Tuesday night's results go, and whether they'll be starting out in Division C when the tournament begins in earnest in Week 2.
- We hoped we were in for a barnburner between OKC Energy FC and FC Tulsa to open things off. Instead, we got a very solid display from Energy FC’s Frank Lopez as Portugal in a 3-0 victory against the United States and Panin Boakye that saw Cristiano Ronaldo find the net twice. OKC’s Rocket League woes are fading into the rear-view mirror now.
- Sacramento Republic FC’s USL eCup debut went about as well as it could have hoped as Rafael Diaz scored a pair of late goals to lead Mexico to a 3-1 win against Memphis 901 FC and Austria, manned by Duane Muckette.
- After their poor display in USL eCup: Rocket League Edition, Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC got out on the right foot this time around with a 4-0 win against Tacoma Defiance. Having Belgium at your disposal is certainly useful, but there was some nice quality in there, especially on the third goal.
- Greenville Triumph SC might have got a kind deflection to do so, but in the end it was probably one it deserved to take against the New England Revolution II with Jake Keegan’s accuracy around goal putting more pressure on with Poland than the Revolution II’s Joe Rice managed with Russia.
- Having Tampa Bay Rowdies Head Coach Neill Collins in the chat for his team’s stream was a treat, even if the result didn’t go Malik Johnson’s way. Hope to see you back again, Coach.
Charlotte Independence (Germany) 5, Louisville City FC (Wales) 1
Greenville Triumph SC (Poland) 2, New England Revolutions II (Russia) 1
Hartford Athletic (Scotland) 3, El Paso Locomotive FC (Argentina) 2
Miami FC (England) 5, Indy Eleven (Cote D’Ivoire) 1
Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC (Belgium) 4, Tacoma Defiance (Slovenia) 0
Union Omaha (Norway) 3, Tampa Bay Rowdies (Colombia) 2
OKC Energy FC (Portugal) 3, FC Tulsa (United States) 0
Sacramento Republic FC (Mexico) 3, Memphis 901 FC (Austria) 1