Rapid Reactions: 2023 eCup Draw
With the 2023 Group Stage Draw in the books, it's time to look ahead at what comes next. While there's still two and a half weeks to go before action kicks off on February 16, we've pulled a storyline to keep an eye on for every group in this year's tournament.
GROUP A - One of the country’s most prominent pre-professional rivalries makes its eCup debut, as Minneapolis City SC (USL2) and Duluth FC (NPSL) are set two square off in Group A. Duluth FC’s Yossef Elsawy, a 2022 Lower League eCup Champion, will square off with Minneapolis City supporter Israel Carrillo, who leads the 2020 & 2021 eCup Runner-Ups into battle in what could be the match of the group stage.
GROUP B - From top-to-bottom, this group is about as even as they come. Bateaux FC (WPASL), Laguna United FC (UPSL), San Antonio Runners SC (UPSL), and the Crocketteers, supporters of San Antonio FC (USLC), are all eCup participants of three years, and will undoubtedly battle to the end for the group’s two berths in the Knockout Stage.
GROUP C - This group may not have the “brand names” of some of the other groups, but make no mistake, this group is as tough as they get. From two-time eCup runner-up Providence City FC (Chris Moura) to former eCup semifinalists in Peak XI FC and Dynamo FC - St. Cloud, the two clubs that make it out of this group are capable of contending for a title.
GROUP D - Every. Level. Of. The. Pyramid. From future USL Championship side Milwaukee Pro Soccer and USL League One side Tormenta FC to local amateur side Great White Buffalo, Group D contains clubs from the 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th, and 6th levels of the American soccer pyramid. Add in two former eCup Champions in Milwaukee’s Oscar Ayala (2022) and Space United FC’s Mark Morales (DII - 2021), and you’ve got one of the most intriguing groups of this year’s tournament.
GROUP E - There’s a fun storyline brewing here that we just can’t share yet - but if it comes to fruition - it’s going to get really interesting, real fast.
GROUP F - Group F brings a local flair to the 2023 eCup, featuring the UPSL’s Midwest Hooligans, NOSL’s rivals City of Ohio SC and Delaware Rising FC, and the Georgia Storm FC’s (NPSL) supporters’ group, The Storm Chasers SG. With three of the four organizations making their eCup debut in 2023, this group is about as wide open as it gets!
GROUP G - Could you have even drawn up a more entertaining draw? This group deserves an entire article, but to keep it short and to the point, professional clubs Forward Madison FC (USL1), Greenville Triumph SC (USL1), and Maryland Bobcats FC (NISA) match up with the Dutch Guard SG, supporters of Kingston Stockade’s (NPSL). To add to the storyline, Madison’s, Greenville’s, and Maryland’s representatives have all worked their way up from supporter to full-time club employee within their respective clubs, and all four competitors bring a combined ten tournaments of eCup experience and four semifinal appearances to the table.
GROUP H - Rose Ruland of the Greenville Liberty (USLW) has a chance to make a splash from Day One against the representatives of Louisville City FC (USLC), Motorik FC Alexandria (USLW), and Superior Wolfpack FC (WPASL). A Greenville local & supporter, Ruland is the only woman competing in the Premier Division and brings her Twitch following of over 42,000 to the Lower League eCup in a move bound to bring great exposure for both the tournament and the Liberty.
DII GROUP A - Fresh faces take over in DII's Group A, as three of the four competitors make their first eCup appearance in 2023. eCup debutants Queen City FC (UPSL) led by Social Media Manager Patrick Valdez, League One Review led by Site Founder Brandon Mays, and Old Bae Brigade & Buzzard Point Social, supporters of MD Bobcats FC, represented by co-founder Alex Windsor are joined by Motorik FC (UPSL) co-owner Sandy Lester in a group that is truly anyone's best guess.
DII GROUP B - AFC Columbia's (MWPL) Price Meentemeyer may be the player to beat in Division II this year. A Premier Division Quarterfinalist in 2022, Meentemeyer is a heavy favorite in the older-generation console second division, and has the added advantage of playing in the only three-club group in this year's tournament.
DII GROUP C - Featuring four returnees every player and organization in Group C has at least two years of eCup experience under their belts entering the 2023 tournament. While none of the four entrants have reached the podium of an eCup yet, this may very well be the year, and a first-place finish in this group puts the group winner in a prime position for a favorable Quarterfinal matchup, and a possible path to an eCup Title.