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USL eCup Matchday Report – Rising FC Claims Victory in Desert Rivalry

By NICHOLAS MURRAY - nicholas.murray@uslsoccer.com, 05/21/20, 9:47PM EDT

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Whelan lifts Phoenix past Tucson and into Division B Final; STLFC, RGVFC to spar for top overall spot on Friday

Phoenix Rising FC and Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC set up a potentially high-scoring final in Division B to wrap up Week 3 of the USL eCup: FIFA20 Edition, but all eyes on Friday will be on Saint Louis FC and Rio Grande Valley FC as they square off for first place in the overall standings after big night of action across the competition.

Three Things that Mattered

1. It’s not often we get to see Phoenix Rising FC and FC Tucson square off, so even though it was in the digital realm on Thursday night, their meeting in the Division B offered a little bit of intrigue. In the end, though, Phoenix’s Corey Whelan and the Netherlands had just too much on offer for Tucson’s Jonathan Caparelli and the Czech Republic, resulting in a 3-0 victory that sent the Championship side into Friday’s final. After stuttering early in the tournament, Phoenix now has a chance at a nice boost in the overall standings ahead of its trip to Division A next week.

2. If Rising FC is to claim maximum points, it’s going to have to earn it. Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC’s Mark Lindstrom and Belgium took a 4-3 victory against the Tampa Bay Rowdies’ Malik Johnson and Colombia in a game that went back and forth over the full 90 minutes. Tampa Bay took an early lead before the Hounds rallied back with two goals midway through the first half. The Rowdies got back level again before the Hounds took the lead for good just before halftime, then a late insurance goal by Pittsburgh proved essential as Tampa Bay came back for one last rally. If there’s anything we should expect on Friday night between Pittsburgh and Phoenix, it should be goals.

3. The award for the most fraught game of Thursday night went to the final match in Division A’s Semifinals as Saint Louis FC’s Richard Bryan and France edged past Austin Bold FC’s Valeri Saramutin and Italy 2-1 in extra time with a goal from Kylian Mbappe that took 60 minutes to arrive in the Golden Goal format. As tight as the margins are at the top of the overall points standings right now, the victory was important for STLFC, which now has a shot at first place overall on Friday if it takes victory against Rio Grande Valley FC. 

Highlights Central

Around the Brackets

- Rio Grande Valley FC’s Kembo Kibato took an impressive 3-1 victory with Brazil against the New York Red Bulls II’s Ben Mines and Chile in Division A’s other Semifinal, which meant that the winner of Division A’s Final between the Toros and Saint Louis FC will be the new overall leader at the end of Week 3. The Toros have a 50 point edge on STLFC going into the contest, but the winner will take 1,000 points to the runner-up’s 750, putting plenty on the line between two top squads.

- Memphis 901 FC suffered a calamitous defeat on Wednesday to miss out on the Division C Final, but its response against North Carolina FC was one that said this side could be ready for what Division B holds next week. Seeing Duane Muckette run up a 6-2 win with Austria against Dre Fortune and Turkey certainly should be a nice confidence boost.

- Anyone else wondering where the backing track to Phoenix Rising FC’s victory was? Well, apparently technology held back the cheer squad…

Results

Division A
Semifinals

Rio Grande Valley FC (Brazil) 3, New York Red Bulls II (Chile) 1
Saint Louis FC (France) 2, Austin Bold FC (Italy) 1 AET

Division B
Semifinals

Phoenix Rising FC (Netherlands) 3, FC Tucson (Czech Republic) 0
Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC (Belgium) 4, Tampa Bay Rowdies (Colombia) 3

Division C
Third Place Game

Memphis 901 FC (Austria) 6, North Carolina FC (Turkey) 2

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