Welcome back to another Power Rankings post on the Lower League eCup!
SmallWorld got a big result this week, but I wasn’t the only one. Quite a few big matches took place, and a few clubs have already qualified for the playoffs!
With that said, let’s take a look at who’s on top of the Power Rankings after Week 3 in each group.
Group A – Inter Detroit FC: Inter Detroit have proven me right up until now, as my lofty prediction for them to win the entire competition still holds its weight. Their three matches to date have yielded three quality victories, and the defensive record of 2 goals conceded looks especially nice on Inter’s resume.
Group B – Metro Louisville: It couldn’t be anyone but the NPSL newbies. They’ve absolutely obliterated their competition, accruing 34 goals in three matches while not conceding once. Not much else to say here.
Group C – SmallWorld’s group, see below for detailed Power Rankings.
Group D – Amish Country United: The NOSL representatives are doing their league proud with a controlling four-game winning streak and a double-digit goal differential as well.
Group E – Atlantic City: The boys from Jersey are still undefeated, even though they’ve only played two matches. Group E is still up in the air, but the Aces have the best chance to finish on top.
Group F – Forward Madison: The ‘Mingos played Asheville City to an exciting draw, so they remain even on points heading into their final two group stage matches. I like Madison to take the title because of their goal differential advantage and their 5 goals per game average.
Group G – OlyPen Force: The local league side from Washington continues their lead in the group, though it isn’t as confortable as it was last week. They lost a surprising fixture against Laredo Heat, and that’s opened the door for the Texas side, who have now levelled OlyPen on points, as well as Union Dubuque, who are also sitting on six points from three games. It should be a tight finish, but I still see Force taking the title with their +17 goal differential.
Group H – Oly Town Artesians: Just like their fellow Washington club from the group above, Oly Town Artesians are on top of their group. They’re the only perfect team left in the group after they beat AFC Mobile 5-1 this week, so the title is well and truly theirs for the taking now.
Group I – Minneapolis City SC: The Crows are in control in Group I, as Jonah Garcia and the broadcasting team behind him are powering the NPSL juggernauts to a lot of success in the group stage. Their goal tally of 11 isn’t much to write home about, but their goals conceded tally of just one definitely is. They’re well on their way to winning the group, but they’re leaving the comfort of Group I to face…
Group J – FC Tucson: The Arizona side still has a say in whether or not the Crows get through the group stage unscathed. Tucson has been equally dominant thus far in their own group with three wins to their credit. They’re likely to pose a real threat to their Week 4 opponents in a battle of group leaders, but they need to be careful not to slip and lose control of their own group. This should be one of the best matches of the week by far.
Group K – Inland Wolves: The Wolves continue to devour their opponents and leave no doubt about who’s king of group K. The California-based adult league club have put 22 past their opponents and only given up three, so they show few signs of faltering in their last two matches.
Group L – Lone Star Republic: L still stands for LSR on the Xbox side of the proceedings. They’re 3-0 through three matches, and I see no reason why they won’t continue that trend through the rest of the group stage and beyond. They could really challenge for the title in my opinion!
Lots of good action in the Xbox division, but it’s time to switch consoles!
Group A – Miami Soccer Academy: Greenspoint faltered a bit in their draw against Fall River Marksmen, and Miami pounced on the opportunity to take the lead in the group. Both teams have a lot of quality, and it should be a great show of attacking eSoccer when they face off in two weeks’ time.
Group B – FC Motown: Powered by their very own pro FIFA player, Motown has a solid grip on Group B. Inocentes FC are also unbeaten, with two wins and a draw compared to Motown’s three wins, and the two face off this week in what should be a fantastic game, and probably what determines the winner of the group.
Group C – NY International FC: NYIFC are still without blemish in the league, and they look like a good bet to finish that way with a +12 goal differential and 15 goals to their name. Hoboken and Lazers SC are within two points of the leaders, though, and are still very much in contention for the crown of Group C.
Group D – Elmwood Elite: The name is fitting, as Oakland County FC’s supporters’ group has played at an elite level all season. Forward Madison and First State FC are still in the hunt, just three points back and facing each other to determine who’s in outright second place. Very excited to see who prevails there and puts the pressure on Elmwood.
Group E – LSA Athletico Lanier: Well, Group E is certifiably the biggest dramatic mess of the entire eCup. SmallWorld’s Twitter friends at Vlora FC upset SmallWorld’s home-state fans at LSA Athletico Lanier with a convincing 7-3 win. That put those two sides on level terms at 6 points apiece. SmallWorld’s friends-of-friends (TriSocPod!) San Lee FC and friends-because-they’re-cool Dekalb County United joined them on six points with Week 3 victories of their own. We’re sticking with LSA because we love Georgia clubs and we think their remaining schedule is the least demanding.
Group F – Greenville Triumph: I’d hate to argue anyone else’s case for the top spot here. Greenville have, well, triumphed throughout the group stage, earning a +20 goal differential in their three wins thus far. They’re the last undefeated team left and look set to reach the playoffs with a perfect record.
Group G – Dynamo FC St. Cloud: So you know how we made a definitive statement two groups ago? Yeah, I just remembered why I will never ever do that again (oh wait). This group is a mess as well, with not a single team in the group having more than one win to their name. Houston Hotshots and Dynamo FC St. Cloud are even on top of the table with five points each, and I’m giving Dynamo the edge on this, just because I really like them. Literally the only reason.
Group H – Tulsa Athletic: T-Town took care of business this week, but so did their chief competition, AFC Mobile. Both clubs are even at +24 in the goal differential category and at nine in the points category. They’ll meet to settle this debate in Week 4, so that should be the Game of the Week by almost any standard.
Group I – Milwaukee Bavarians: The history-laden club from Wisconsin aren’t letting off the throttle, continuing to cruise past all comers. They’ve racked up 24 goals in three games, and their attacking horsepower should carry them into the playoffs as Group I champions.
Group J – FF Premier: The UPSL side are the last undefeated team standing in Group J, and that’s a pretty good recipe for leading the group’s Power Rankings in SmallWorld’s book. And that’s the only book that’s relevant right now.
Group K – Union Dubuque: I’m torn on who to choose between Oxnard Guerreros and Dubuque, as the Guerreros have been a bit more convincing but still have one less game of proof than the Iowa side does. It’ll all be settled soon when they face off in two weeks, but until then, I’m sticking with Union.
Group L – Riverside City FC: Inland Empire Republic won big again this week, but their loss to Riverside City still makes them second-best for now. Riverside still hasn’t lost in three matches, so it’s hard to put them anywhere but first; Republic’s results just makes Riverside look that much better.
Group M – OlyPen Force: The Force are still atop Group M, and they’re still looking indomitable. If they are going to be “domited”, though, it’ll probably be Duluth FC who does the “domiting” (look at all these words we can make up!), a fellow 3-0 club with a double-digit goal differential.
And now for a look at the last division remaining!
PC: Metro Louisville – The Kentucky club passed a tough test on Monday, beating South Bend Lions to stay perfect. I think they’ve got what it takes to emerge from the group victorious.
Next, we take an in-depth look at Xbox Group C, home of SmallWorld itself.
First, recaps of each match:
SmallWorld once again had the first Group C fixture of the week as I went up against Louis of Jacksonville Armada. After two straight draws, I was really hoping not to have to equalize late on like I’d already done twice, but I would have been content with splitting the points against a quality opponent. My plans were ruined pretty quickly, as Armada earned a 1-0 advantage before 15 minutes had gone by. From there, our attack looked dangerous for the rest of the half, but it wasn’t until the 35th minute that SmallWorld found a leveling goal. Once we got that one, though, the second wasn’t far behind, and we brought a 2-1 lead into the halftime team talk. We continued our quality play in the attack after the break, and had extended the lead to 4-1 by the 70th minute. Louis pulled one back for Jacksonville with about 15 minutes to play, but it wouldn’t be enough on the day. An excellent defensive performance from SmallWorld was necessary, but I came away with a gritty 4-2 victory, my first of the group stage! FINAL: SmallWorld 4-2 Armada
Later in the week, Hoboken FC 1912 faced Olde Fields Battalion with crucial points on the line for two teams vying for a top four spot. Both club entered the game with one point from two games, knowing three points would catapult them above their closest competition. The game was tight throughout the 90 minutes, but Hoboken played with confidence all match long and was the deserving 4-1 victor. That result makes their chances at playoff soccer next month much more likely, but they’re not out of the woods quite yet! FINAL: Hoboken 4-1 Olde Fields
The final match of the week from Group C was perhaps the most promising, the top-two battle between Louisiana Krewe and Northshore United. The two Louisiana rivals showed their quality early and often, but Northshore had the better of Krewe in the first 45 minutes, and the 1-0 halftime scoreline reflected that advantage. It didn’t take long for Northshore to extend the lead, though, as they made 2-0 in the 50th minute. From there, Krewe calmed down and the two sides played each other very closely. In the 72nd minute, though, momentum shifted the way of United once more, and the leaders converted a penalty to make it 3-0 on the day. Northshore didn’t stop there, scoring a beauty from outside the box in the 79th minute for a 4-0 score. Krewe livened up in the attack for the last 10 minutes, and their efforts yielded a goal late on with a 90th minute counter attack. Krewe had the last laugh, but it was Northshore who took the spoils and put themselves in prime position to finish Group C on top. FINAL: Northshore 4-1 Krewe
With all those results taken into account, let’s look at the updated table for Week 3:
- Northshore United, 9 pts +13 GD
- Louisiana Krewe, 6 pts +1 GD
- SmallWorld Soccer, 5 pts +2 GD
- Hoboken FC 1912, 4 pts 0 GD
- Olde Fields Battalion, 1 pt -10 GD
- Jacksonville Armada, 0 pts -6 GD
Let’s also see the updated Power Rankings:
- Northshore United: They are now undisputedly the cream of the Group C crop after taking down their formerly-undefeated GCPL opponents in LA Krewe. There’s not many logical scenarios in which United don’t find themselves in pole position after the next two matchdays take place.
- Louisiana Krewe: Krewe couldn’t take the top spot away from Northshore, but they held their own and proved they’re a top-drawer side. They’re up against SmallWorld next in what should be a good battle, but even if they lose to me, they’re in good shape to stay afloat and reach the playoffs.
- SmallWorld Soccer: SmallWorld is one of two undefeated teams remaining and I have the second-best goal differential in the league, so I’m backing myself to get at least a point off of these next two difficult fixtures against Krewe and Northshore. That should be enough to get me over the line, and it might be enough to keep me in third place depending on other results. An upset in the Hoboken-Northshore match this week is what really worries me, but if I can find a way to beat the Krewe this week, none of that will matter and I’ll be able to breathe easier.
- Jacksonville Armada: Armada still have no points, but they’ve yet to face the two teams in 4th and 5th right now. They have a chance to build some momentum this week in a match against fellow bottom dwellers Olde Fields Battalion, and it’s one final opportunity for Louis to keep his Armada side in the running for the playoffs. A loss would eliminate Jacksonville mathematically, but even a draw would more than likely be too little. They need three points, and it’s now or never, but I still really feel like they’ll rise to the challenge.
- Hoboken FC 1912: Hoboken has a lot of quality, but they have to face the goliath of Northshore and an Armada side I’m still sold on (and with its back against the wall). I’ve been expecting Hoboken to advance all season, and I still think it’s well within their grasp, but given SmallWorld’s surprise success, that draw against us after their 2nd-half red card is looking more and more costly every day. They need to get a result against Jacksonville in two weeks to really clinch their top-four spot, but a point from their Northshore match this week certainly wouldn’t hurt, either.
- Olde Fields Battalion: Tallahassee’s SG was my original #1 pick, but they haven’t found the results they need to back that up, and there may not be enough time left to flip that script. They’ve still got a one-point advantage over Armada, though, who they’ll face this week. That match is the end of the line for both sides: lose or draw, and their prospects of progressing are very slim.
Clearly, the drama in Group C is at its peak, and this week, we might get a lot of answers as far as who will progress and who won’t. Make sure you’re following @lowerleagueEcup on Twitter and Twitch to find out how it all goes down!
SmallWorld gets things started once again in Group C when we take on Louisiana Krewe on Thursday at 9 PM EST. Then, Olde Fields Battalion and Jacksonville Armada get their last chance to stay alive in the race for fourth on Saturday at 4 PM Eastern. Finally, group leaders Northshore have an early afternoon rendezvous with Hoboken on Sunday at 1 PM.
If you’re looking for eCup content in an audio format, SmallWorld now has a podcast! Make sure you check it out on our partner podcast’s page, and don’t forget to follow them on Twitch and Twitter as well!
Thanks as always for reading and supporting.
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