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Power Rankings: Lower League eCup, Week 1

A week of the Lower League eCup season is officially in the books.

Most everyone has played at least one match by this point (including SmallWorld itself, but more on that in a moment), and we’ve seen pretty much every kind of game imaginable.

There was the heartbreak from FC Buffalo as a double doink that will live in Lower League eCup history denied the finishing touch to their 3-goal comeback.

There was a match that ended 11-0. And then there was another. And two that ended 13-0. And one that ended 14-1. There were lots of blowouts.

There were a few defensive battles, the 1-1s and the 2-0s and the 2-1s. But the vast majority were offensive battles, 3-2s and 4-2s and even a 4-4!

But most importantly, we saw who came to play and who might be in for a difficult next month. We have a much better idea of who’s contending for the overall title in both PS4 and Xbox (PC matches haven’t started yet as of writing).

It really feels like actual soccer is back, and we have actual scorelines to discuss and strategies to play with and speculation to throw out to no one in particular. It’s exactly what this community has needed, and it’s only just begun.

So, with that being said, let’s progress to our first update to last week’s preseason edition of Lower League eCup Power Rankings. Make sure you take a look at that link to compare last week’s projected leaders with this week’s choices!

I’ll start by putting out my projected winner of each group in the Group Stage:

Xbox:

Group A – Inter Detroit: They’ve not let me down in my lofty prediction for them last week. They took care of Elite FC in a 2-0 victory, so I’m still pretty confident in them for now despite being in a group with a lot of really close results.

Group B – Savannah Clovers: First State didn’t live up to our expectations, losing in their first time out. We’re going with Savannah Clovers this time, a fellow Georgia representative who beat Palm Beach Breakers by three goals this week.

Group C – SmallWorld’s group, see detailed rankings below

Group D – LSA Athletico Lanier: This looks like a pretty even group, as all six of the seven teams that we saw in action this week looked relatively competitive with one another. That said, LSA backed up our confidence in them with the largest margin of victory in Group D, a 5-1 triumph over Three Rivers Regiment. Hopefully there’s more where that came from!

Group E – FC Buffalo: Our trend of keeping last week’s picks continues, and this one is more controversial. Buffalo lost in the aforementioned double doink dilemma, but they fought back valiantly and showed a lot of skill. I think they win out and get some help from other results to take the group stage title.

Group F – Forward Madison FC: Agents of Hale won the match of the CENTURY, a 7-6 decision against Tormenta FC, but the top spot goes to Forward Madison. They won 4-2 outside the group this week, and they face Tormenta to try and defend their top spot in Group F this week.

Group G – Colorado Rush: It’s really a toss-up in Group G, but our preseason pick Dynamo FC St. Cloud lost their opener, so we’re going with Colorado Rush. They were the ones who beat Dynamo, and they did so with an excellent defensive showing. They have a chance to continue that trend against Grays Harbor Gulls, who lost by a seven-goal margin last time out.

Group H – AFC Mobile: This group is going to be a lopsided one. AFC Mobile won their match by a 10-1 scoreline, but that was actually bested by Oly Town Artesians’ 11-0 thrashing of Black Plague 1904. Tough to decide between the two, but we’re going with the known entity in Mobile, one of our favorite clubs in real life.

Group I – Minneapolis City SC: The Crows showed professionalism on and off the pitch, providing live commentary and a pregame show before a 5-0 victory over a Little Rock Rangers side that looked pretty good in the loss. Despite DeKalb County taking all the headlines in a 14-2 victory, MPLS are still the front-runners in my book.

Group J – Lane United FC: The Oregon side earned a clean sheet in a 2-0 win over Des Moines Menace, so we’re sticking with them to take Xbox Group J.

Group K – Vacaville Elite: Vacaville came up big in their opening night win on Sunday, beating Keene FC handily. Inland Wolves did the same, but we’re sticking with our original choice in Vacaville.

Group L – Lone Star Republic: They bested our preseason favorite in River Town FC, so we’re getting behind them as they head into a big matchup in Week 2. Their opponents, Santa Ana Lobos, won their match in another group by the same 6-2 scoreline, so this one could decide the group winner very early on!

PS4:

Group A – Greenspoint Gunners: Look, Districtonia was our preseason pick, and they did well with a 3-0 win, but it’s really hard not to predict the Gunners to come out on top after a scoreline of 11-0 in their first match.

Group B – Livonia City FC: Okay, sure, Motown FC won by 13 against Orlando City B this week, and Livonia only beat our preseason choice Palm Beach Breakers by a goal. But this is ORLANDO CITY B. Scoring 13 on them doesn’t even feel like that much. They could have scored 113 on City and I still wouldn’t be convinced that would translate to success against any other team. They’re going to have to beat a real team before I give them the top spot.

Group C – NY International FC: Okay, so the ADASL did not make us look very good with this prediction. They lost 8-0 in their opener against Club Toledo, so we’re going to fall back on the club we said it was a toss-up with, NY International. They drew with Levi United 2-2 yesterday, but we’ll see what they’re really made of immediately when they take on Toledo tomorrow at 7:30 Eastern.

Group D – The Citizens: So First State let us down. It’s the first time, because their Twitter prowess has failed to do so since they began existence as a club. Technically the second time, because they lost in their Xbox group too, but I digress. The Citizens, MPLS City’s supporters group, took care of business 3-0 against Tallahassee SC, so they take over the top spot.

Group E – LSA Athletico Lanier: It was a big week for DeKalb County. They fended off FC Buffalo in the final of LowerLeagueUSA’s Twitter poll tournament and absolutely obliterated Inter Detroit 14-1 in their first PS4 match. Their second also happened this week, though, and that one was a 3-1 loss to LSA. Thus, LSA tops our predictions right now and has a strong argument as the favorites to win the whole thing!

Group F – Greenville Triumph: Greenville put together a complete performance against brand-new NPSL Southeast Conference members Metro Louisville. Their 8-1 result gives me a lot of confidence in this pick.

Group G – Houston Hotshots: I just can’t bet against the UPSL team from Houston after they beat Group F opponents Inter Philadelphia 9-0. I still think my preseason choice Florida Tropics and the team they drew with, Dynamo St. Cloud, are both in with a shout.

Group H – Tulsa Athletic: On both consoles, AFC Mobile put their skills on full display, putting 11 past Group H opponents Chehalem Valley on the PS4 side. Tulsa looked really strong as well, though, securing a dominant 8-2 win over Atun United, and we’re going to go with them.

Group I – Lane United FC: My preseason choice, Blue Battalion (SG of Mississippi Brilla in USL2), managed a draw by the same scoreline SmallWorld did, 4-4. That’s not a bad result; however, Lane United took down Project 51O, the second team of Oakland Roots, with an 8-2 scoreline that’s convincing enough for me to give them the nod in Group I.

Group J – Vacaville Elite: We chose Vacaville to win in their Xbox group stage, but clearly we should have done the same in this, their PS4 group. They won 13-0 against PDX FC. Enough said.

Group K – Union Dubuque FC: A lopsided loss for our predicted winners, Colorado Rush. Union Dubuque beat them 9-0, and despite Oxnard Guerreros’ 10-1 victory themselves, I’m going with the side that earned a clean sheet.

Group L – Bell County FC: We’re going with Bell County again, as they’ve stayed undefeated after a win and a draw in their first week. We still think River Town are close in their heels, though, with an opportunity to draw level on points if they can beat an Inland Empire Republic side that have already lost once.

Group M – Lone Star Republic: LSR beat our fellow media outlet, Protagonist Soccer, which was a big surprise to SmallWorld. Protagonist went on to win their second match of Week 1, so that just makes the Texas club look even better. They’re contenders for the last four of the whole PS4 side in SmallWorld’s opinion.

PC: South Bend Lions – We’re still going with the Lions here, because nobody’s played yet and SmallWorld is the type of lower-league soccer blog that sticks to its guns. Whatever that means.

Now that we’re made a subpar joke that no one really understands (myself included), I think we can move on to the next phase of Lower League eCup Power Rankings, the in-depth look at Xbox Group C.

Let’s recap each match in the group to set the stage for my rankings:

SmallWorld and Hoboken FC kicked the group off on Friday evening, battling to a 4-4 draw in one of the most exciting contests of the season. SmallWorld got an early goal but struggled in the rest of the first half, trailing 3-1 after 45 minutes. We found our stride after a poor out-of-the-blue challenge from Hoboken dropped them to 10 men, and we scored within minutes of the red card. We then equalized the match at 3 apiece with 15 minutes left, just for Hoboken to find another goal in the 82nd minute. With just two minutes of regular time remaining, though, our super sub striker, Jayden Stockley, wrote his name in the SmallWorld history books by earning us a draw at the death. Here’s a clip of our equalizer on Twitch if you’d like to watch: https://clips.twitch.tv/BumblingCourageousGerbilPeteZarollTie FINAL: SmallWorld 4 – 4 Hoboken

The beautiful man who rescued a point for us.

The next day, Olde Fields Battalion faced Northshore United in what promised to be an exciting battle as well. Both sides came close to opening goals early on, but it wasn’t until the 35th minute that LA-based Northshore found the back of the net. From there, the floodgates opened, and in the blink of an eye, Northshore took a commanding 3-0 lead into the halftime break. They didn’t let up, either, scoring a quick fourth goal in the 47th minute to all but put the game away. Olde Fields continued to fight and honestly played quite well throughout, but Northshore defended brilliantly, keeping the clean sheet and even finding a fifth goal to really put things away. A classy first match from the GCPL side! FINAL: Olde 0 – 5 Northshore

On Sunday, the final two teams faced off, Jacksonville Armada and Louisiana Krewe. The two sides battled closely for the first half of play, with the Krewe controlling the proceedings, but Armada taking control of the scoreline 1-0 in the 40th minute. In the second half, though, LA had their way and put two in the back of the net, enough to give them the full three points on the first matchday.

With all those results in mind, here’s the Group C table as of now, followed by my projected final standings for Group C:

Current Table:

  1. Northshore United, 3 pts +5 GD
  2. Louisiana Krewe, 3 pts +1 GD
  3. Hoboken FC 1912, 1 pt 0 GD
  4. SmallWorld Soccer, 1 pt 0 GD
  5. Jacksonville Armada, 0 pts -1 GD
  6. Olde Fields Battalion, 0 pts -5 GD

Power Rankings:

  1. Northshore United – Northshore won convincingly against our projected winner, Olde Fields Battalion, and I think that’s enough to put them atop the leaderboard for now. It should be a really tight group, though, as I could see Northshore slipping to Hoboken, the Krewe, or Armada. All showed a lot of quality in their opening match.
  2. Louisiana Krewe – The Krewe looked very impressive in coming back to beat a quality opponent in Jacksonville Armada. They defended well and scored when they needed to in the second half, and they have a valuable three points from their first match. They’re certainly contenders to top the group.
  3. Olde Fields Battalion – It was a tough outing for the Battalion, and I think they were undeserving of such a lopsided 5-0 scoreline in their loss. That said, it’ll be difficult for them to make up that ground and reclaim the top spot when all is said and done. I think they’re capable of it, but it’s all a matter of how things play out.
  4. Hoboken FC 1912 – They were hard done by their result against us, forced to settle for a draw after multiple late equalizers. They were the better side and definitely have the quality to challenge for the title, but those two points they lost could be vital in a very competitive group of clubs. They should still see the Knockout Round, though.
  5. Jacksonville Armada – Armada have a pretty professional program on their Twitch setup, and a quality player representing them. Unfortunately, it wasn’t enough to get a result against the Krewe, and that’s exactly the kind of match each club will have to win to get a high finish and earn a knockout stage spot. Loads of time left to make up for it, though.
  6. SmallWorld Soccer – We got a big result against a really strong Hoboken side, but we’re taking it with a grain of salt considering we played with a man advantage for the majority of the second half. We’ve got another big match next, as we face Olde Fields Battalion, and if we can get three points there, I’ll feel a lot better about our chances to finish in the top four. Another draw wouldn’t be a bad thing, either, but we need to keep earning points each round to stay in this thing.

Next up for SmallWorld is our Wednesday night game at 7 PM Eastern against Olde Fields Battalion, so be sure to catch it then on Twitch @smallworldsoccer!

Be sure to watch every night and all day on the weekends, as a matter of fact, because exciting Lower League eCup matches are happening daily for the next few weeks as the group stage continues! Thanks for following the eCup action on SmallWorld Soccer, and as always:

Support local soccer, unify those around you, and seek out diversity!

Blessings,

Danny

By danny kotula

danny kotula is an aspiring sports writer and play-by-play commentator. unfortunately, he is not good at either one. his interests include watching soccer and listening to obscure music genres, and those aren’t even his most boring ones. he was born in Tacoma, Washington but has called South Carolina, North Carolina, Georgia, Texas, California, Georgia, and Costa Rica home over the course of his life. he generally knows where to put a comma, which is by far his most redeeming quality. he is writing this in third person as if he were famous enough for someone to write him a biography, but don’t be fooled. he’s not famous.

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