Championship Weekend: Xbox Division Preview
After seven weeks of virtual competition, the semifinals and finals of the 2020 Lower League eCup are set! Championship weekend features the semifinals and finals of all three divisions (Playstation, Xbox, and PC), beginning on Friday, May 22nd and concluding with the PS4 and PC Championship matches on Wednesday, May 27th.
Below is our preview for the Xbox Division. For the Playstation Division preview, click here, and for the PC preview, click here.
Xbox Bracket entering Championship Weekend
Xbox Semifinal #1: Lone Star Republic (UPSL) vs. Oly Town Artesians (EPLWA)
Saturday, May 23rd, 8:00pm Eastern
Lone Star Republic (8-0) vs. Oly Town Artesians (8-0)
In the first Xbox semifinal, two clubs that are relatively new to the grassroots scene will square off in what’s sure to be a high-scoring matchup. Oly Town and Lone Star have the top two offenses in the tournament, and we can expect to see goals galore in this one.
Oly Town Artesians center-back Angel-Trejo Delgado scored 51 goals in his five group stage matches, including a tournament record 22 goals in his matchup against a supporter from the Cal United Strikers. While Delgado may have had an easy group, he’s had the toughest knockout round schedule of any of the semifinalists. Truly adhering to the motto of “Survive and Advance”, the Artesians have recorded victories against Union Dubuque (7-6), Amish Country United (6-4), and Inland Wolves FC (6-3) to reach the Final Four.
Representing Lone Star Republic is supporter Ivan Calderon. Respected in competitive FIFA circles, Calderon has the strongest argument to be considered the tournament favorite heading into this weekend. After running the table with a +34 goal differential in five group stage matches, Lone Star has recorded knockout stage wins against Levi United (12-0), Laredo Heat SC (10-5), and Metro Louisville (6-3). Following their big quarterfinal victory over tournament frontrunner Metro Louisville, expect Lone Star to ride into Championship Weekend with a ton of momentum, and to challenge for the title this weekend.
Xbox Semifinal #2: Minneapolis City SC (NPSL) vs. Inland Empire FC (UPSL)
Saturday, May 23rd, 9:00pm Eastern
Minneapolis City SC (8-0) vs. Inland Empire FC (7-1)
In Saturday’s nightcap, fan-favorites Minneapolis City SC will take on UPSL side Inland Empire FC for the second berth in the Xbox National Championship. While the first semifinal could be a goals-fest, fans can expect this semifinal to be a defensive battle. Minneapolis City podcasters/announcers Jon Bizzwurm and Nate Morales will be on the call, starting off a pregame show at 8:45pm Eastern.
Minneapolis City center back Jonah Garcia has quickly become one of the most recognizable players in the tournament, boosted by great defense and the commentating abilities of Bizzwurm and Morales. After going undefeated in a challenging group, Minneapolis City has taken advantage of a favorable knockout stage draw to advance to Championship Weekend, winning aggregate matchups over Grays Harbor Gulls (16-1), Lane United FC (11-4), and FC Tucson (8-3). Garcia will rely on his defensive prowess to carry him to the title, but it will be interesting to see whether or not the Crows can muster the offensive firepower to take home the title.
For Inland Empire FC, recent academy graduate and first team player Favian Saavedra has rebounded from a loss in the opening match to reach the semifinals. With the least impressive resume of any of the four semifinalists, it’s safe to say that IEFC are the underdogs coming into this matchup. Another side that embodies the motto of “Survive and Advance”, Inland advanced with golden goals in the third period of extra time against both Dekalb County United (7-6) and Louisiana Krewe FC (7-6). An impressive 9-3 aggregate victory over Northshore United in the quarterfinals showed that Inland Empire is in great form, but this great form alone won’t be enough to take down a formidable Minneapolis City side.
Xbox National Championship: Tuesday, May 26th at 9:00pm Eastern
Staff Consensus Predictions
Semifinal #1: Lone Star Republic over Oly Town Artesians
Semifinal #2: Minneapolis City SC over Inland Empire FC
Final: Lone Star Republic over Minneapolis City SC