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USL eCup Matchday Report – Hounds Get on Track with Victory

By NICHOLAS MURRAY - nicholas.murray@uslsoccer.com, 05/20/20, 9:52PM EDT

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Red Bulls II, Toros set up Division A showdown; FC Tulsa, LouCity making positive strides

Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC got things on track just in time to secure a spot in the Semifinals of Division B, while the New York Red Bulls II and Rio Grande Valley FC advanced to a key Division A showdown on Thursday, and FC Tulsa and Louisville City FC continued to pull their way back from a slow start to the tournament. 

Three Things that Mattered

1. Things didn’t get off to an auspicious start for Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC’s Mark Lindstrom and Belgium when they went behind early to Indy Eleven’s Jordan Farr and the Cote D’Ivoire. But very quickly the Hounds found their range on the way to a 3-2 victory and a place in the Division B Semifinals for this week. With the No. 4 seeded team in the tournament, Pittsburgh has underachieved over the opening two weeks to sit at a deficit (-150pts) in the overall standings. Now they not only have promotion to Division A in hand for next week, they can also put their total into the black over the next two nights.

2. Having taken the lead in the overall points standings last week thanks to eMLS loanee Mike LaBelle, the minimum target for the New York Red Bulls II this week was to advance through their semifinal, ensure another week of points in the standings, and avoid any chance of a relegation showdown in Week 4. Red Bulls II forward Ben Mines pulled that off comfortably enough, taking Chile to a 3-1 victory against Greenville Triumph SC’s Jake Keegan and Poland, ensuring at least a +300 in the points column. Next up? A far bigger test against Rio Grande Valley FC’s Kembo Kibato and Brazil in the Division A Semifinals.

3. After going winless through the first two weeks of the tournament, things are starting to look up a little bit for both FC Tulsa and Louisville City FC. Having secured promotion from Division C on Monday night, the respective sides – Tulsa with Panin Boakye and the United States and Louisville with Akil Watts and Wales – put on impressive showings of contrasting styles on Wednesday to reach the division final on Friday. For Watts and LouCity, it was a simply dominant display in a 9-0 win against North Carolina FC and Turkey that saw an extra 45 minutes tacked on because of a disconnection midway through the first contest. Tulsa and Boakye, on the other hand, grabbed victory from the jaws of the defeat with the United States as two late goals led to a 3-2 win against Memphis 901 FC’s Duane Muckette and Austria. 

Highlights Central

Around the Brackets

- There was no Kyle Morton on the sticks for Saint Louis FC on Wednesday night, but his replacement in Richard Bryan looked just as formidable with France in a 4-1 victory against Union Omaha’s Elvir Ibisevic and Norway. With a 250-point game to make up on the Red Bulls II for first place, and New York taking on third-place Rio Grande Valley on Thursday, there’s a chance for STLFC to be at least in the top two at the halfway point.

- Austin Bold FC’s Valeri Saramutin has impressed so far in the USL eCup, but on Wednesday night it was goalkeeper Diego Restrepo that picked up the sticks to post a big 3-2 victory with Italy against OKC Energy FC’s Frank Lopez and Portugal to advance to Division A’s Semifinals. Restrepo is clearly a keen gamer – he’s also competing in eUSL alongside this tournament – and ensuring Bold FC walks away with points at the end of this week is a nice introduction to this event.

- The most entertaining game of the night? Well, that was the clash between Phoenix Rising FC’s Corey Whelan and the Netherlands and Miami FC’s Romario Williams and England. Eight goals were tallied in all, but Whelan came out on top with a 5-3 win to send Phoenix into the Division B Semifinals and earn promotion to Division A next week.

- Adding to the atmosphere in the Rising FC camp was the background celebration and support Whelan received from Kevon Lambert and Junior Flemmings, both teammates alongside Williams for the Jamaica National Team. For now at least, club > country.

- Last night it was the turn of the Philadelphia Union II and Spain. On Wednesday, it was the Charlotte Independence’s turn to again falter with one of the highest-seeded teams in the tournament. FC Tucson’s AJ Valenzuela and the Czech Republic came up with a 2-1 victory against the Independence’s Valentin Sabella and Germany. It might be time for someone else to take the controls in the Queen City.

- The Tampa Bay Rowdies’ Malik Johnson showed off his scoring prowess on Tuesday night with Colombia, and that momentum continued in a 4-1 victory against Las Vegas Lights FC’s Jose Carrera and Uruguay, a result that will put the Rowdies in the points for the first time this week and into Division A for Week 4.

Results

Division A
Quarterfinals

New York Red Bulls II (Chile) 3, Greenville Triumph SC (Poland) 1
Rio Grande Valley FC (Brazil) 2, Hartford Athletic (Scotland) 0
Austin Bold FC (Italy) 3, OKC Energy FC (Portugal) 2
Saint Louis FC (France) 4, Union Omaha (Norway) 1

Division B
Quarterfinals

Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC (Belgium) 3, Indy Eleven (Cote D’Ivoire) 2
Tampa Bay Rowdies (Colombia) 4, Las Vegas Lights FC (Uruguay) 1
FC Tucson (Czech Republic) 2, Charlotte Independence (Germany) 1
Phoenix Rising FC (Netherlands) 5, Miami FC (England) 3

Division C
Semifinals

FC Tulsa (United States) 3, Memphis 901 FC (Austria) 2
Louisville City FC (Wales) 9, North Carolina FC (Turkey) 0

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