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Riverhounds SC’s Kenardo Forbes participating in USL’s eCup tournament

File photo by Ed Thompson

Riverhounds SC’s Kenardo Forbes participating in USL’s eCup tournament

United Soccer League and teams from the USL Championship and League One are getting set to square off in a new arena.

On Wednesday, the USL announced the inaugural edition of the USL eCup, Rocket League Edition, which will see 32 teams from across the organization’s professional ranks meet in a month-long tournament featuring one of the most successful and highly-awarded games of all time.

The tournament will include Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC’s First Team All-USL Championship midfielder Kenardo Forbes representing the black and gold.

Forbes will represent the Hounds, which have their first battle scheduled at 4 p.m. on April 1 against Rio Grande Valley FC. Pittsburgh will later clash with San Antonio FC at 3 p.m. on April 8 and El Paso Locomotive FC at 5 p.m. on April 10 in the group stage.

The group stage will run from March 31 through April 10, and the knockout rounds will be held from April 13 through April 25.

“We just wanted to create something fun and entertaining,” said USL Senior Vice President of Digital Lizzie Seedhouse. “More than anything, this tournament will be a great way to give clubs and supporters the ability to come together, compete and have some fun.”

Launched in 2015, Rocket League has become one of the premier games in esports. With a head-to-head format that models soccer in many ways, the game sees players navigate their vehicles to drive the ball toward the net and score goals. Claiming Best Sports Game at E3 in 2015, Rocket League has continued to accumulate awards in the years since thanks to its immense playability.

The 32 clubs will square off in a one-on-one duel format and each team will be represented by a team captain, who will serve as the primary player, with two alternates available to each team over the course of the tournament. The clubs will be drawn into eight groups of four teams, which will be revealed later today, with the tournament’s group stage set to run between Tuesday, March 31 and Friday, April 10.

Each group stage match will be a best-of-three between the two players. Each team will play once during Week 1 of the group stage, and then twice in Week 2. The winner of each best-of-three series will receive three points in the group standings while the loser departs empty-handed.

The top two teams from each group will then advance to the knockout stage of the tournament, which will be held between Monday, April 13 and Saturday, April 25. Knockout round matches will be staged in a best-of-five series through the Round of 16, Quarterfinals and Semifinals, with the Final to be staged over a best-of-seven series to crown the winner of the tournament’s inaugural edition on the final day.

In addition to the action on the virtual field, the tournament will also offer the opportunity for each club participating in the tournament to have a charitable tie-in locally. Clubs will nominate a charity of their choosing and a link to a donation page will be available for fans to chip in and support throughout the Twitch streams and on club and league websites.

Riverhounds SC will be partnering with Allegheny Health Network during the USL eCUP: Rocket League Edition. In response to the emerging needs surrounding COVID-19, and in response to the generosity that AHN has already received from employees and the community, AHN has set up a COVID-19 AHN Assistance Fund to provide immediate resources to address the emerging needs of AHN, its caregivers and patients during the COVID-19 pandemic. Please visit supportahn.org for more information.

Every game of the USL eCup: Rocket League Edition will be streamed live on Twitch, the world’s leading live streaming platform for gamers, allowing fans to interact with teams and players throughout the action.

Daily coverage will also be available on USLChampionship.com and USLLeagueOne.com following the teams and players throughout the event.

John Krysinsky has covered soccer and other sports for many years for various publications and media outlets. He is also author of 'Miracle on the Mon' -- a book about the Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC, which chronicles the club, particularly the early years of Highmark Stadium and a remarkable match that helped provide a spark for the franchise. John has covered sports for Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, DK Pittsburgh Sports, Pittsburgh Sports Report, has served as color commentator on Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC broadcasts, and worked with OPTA Stats and broadcast teams for US Open Cup and International Champions Cup matches held in the US. Krysinsky also served as the Head Men’s Soccer Coach at his alma mater, Point Park University, where he led the Pioneers to the first-ever winning seasons and playoff berths (1996-98); head coach of North Catholic boys (2007-08), associate head coach of Shady Side Academy boys (2009-2014).

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