ACL Week 2 Preview

 

Last week kicked off an exciting month and a half in the FVPAA. The American Clubs League will be running for an impressive 10th time with 20 teams in Division 1 vying for the final championship of FIFA 15. While just below them, 24 additional teams slug it out in Division 2 with the hopes of breaking through into Division 1 for the start of FIFA 16.

Week 1 of the campaign produced relatively few surprises with the teams expected to be at the top of the standings essentially holding those spots. Viva Futbol claimed the top spot with an impressive 6 win start to the year, with Top 4 favorites Divine Footwork and Unleashed CF right behind them at 16 and 14 points apiece. Week 2 is about to begin, and with it comes another intense 3 days of competition between the best Pro Clubs in North America.

Week 1 of these competitions often has the distinct ability to give us false impressions of who the top teams are and who is playing above expectations. Week 2 is the time when pretenders come crashing down the mountain as the seasoned winners show us why they have succeeded in making the climb so many times before. I expect by 11:30pm Eastern Standard Time, we will know who our pretenders in Week 1 were.

FVPAA-logoACL Featured Matchups

FIFA Harmony (Home) v. FC Serenity (Away) – A rebranded squad, consisting of many former We Have Heart players, FIFA Harmony emerged from their opening week contests with a record of 4 wins, 1 tie, and 1 loss. Their opponents for this featured game, mirrored their efforts but will be slightly disappointed as the defending champions look to win back-to-back titles. With both teams having dreams of Pro Clubs glory it should a hotly contested matchup.

FIFA Harmony is one of the teams going through the “Ring of Fire” this week, a series of 4 games that each team will face twice this season. The Ring of Fire is made up of 4 perennially title contenders in Divine Footwork, FC Serenity, Unleashed CF, and Viva Futbol. Any team looking to put their stamp on the league will look at these 8 games as a marker of how their season went to gauge their overall standing within the league. While Harmony’s offense produced an impressive 2.5 goals per game, their defense was average, allowing 1.3 goals per game in a league predicated on defense equaling success. Led by James l 15 l, FH’s defense will need to be strong as they face 4 potent attacking teams in the “Ring of Fire”.

FC Serenity on the flipside will be looking at their first week as a mixed bag. On one hand the team conceded just 2 goals, but struggled to find the net in their first 3 games of the season. They seemed to hit their stride on the backside of their week and will hope that momentum carries on. The team reemerged out of the dust of Totaal Voetbal and finds itself with one of the strongest rosters in the league. Consistently a top choice for the Golden Boot, Dylshkin67 x has had a great start to his season averaging a goal-per-game, he will be vital to determining the success for Serenity in this upcoming week.

Unleashed CF (Home) v. FIFA Harmony (Away) – Another “Ring of Fire” matchup for Harmony sees them taking on ACL 9 finalists Unleashed CF. Unleashed remodeled much of its roster, casting aside long time teammates in favor of new faces and fresh blood in the hopes of bundling up another title for eXo Cavani and co. This game has potential written all over it to be a great game and expectations are high.

Unleashed enter the game with a brand new roster from top to bottom. Leading the charge up top, as always is eXo Cavani. Behind him has been the revelation from the last American Virtual League, Viva Ideen who has retooled himself into an offensive powerhouse, setting aside his goalkeepers gloves to find glory outside of the sticks. Both players are important to the success of UCF who boast several stars across the First XI, OBoyle l 14 l and WarMachine199 also look to be vital parts to this team’s ability to win. OBoyle anchors a relatively experienced defense looking to challenge the supremacy of Viva as FIFA 15’s top unit.

Harmony will need to bring their best game Tuesday night, with the games against FC Serenity and Unleashed threatening to dismantle what looks like a strong team in the early stages of the season. The team will need current Golden Boot leader Viva Reyes to continue his stellar run of form. A team that suffered from goalkeeping issues on the first night of the season, FH needs to have this position locked down with two top quality keepers in Joker l 1 l and oLdSkooLKaRmA on the roster. Expect to find out what Harmony is made of after Tuesday night’s battles.

Elusive SC (Home) v. Extraordinary (Away) – ACL X perhaps should be known as the “Season of the Rebrand” as teams new and old have reformed themselves under new banners or acquired new rosters. Surprise of the season thus far is Elusive finding themselves tied for 3rd place with Unleashed at 14 points. The opposition, Extraordinary, formerly known as the American Outlawz have imported some Mexican talent in the hopes of making a deeper run than the Quarterfinals of ACL IX.

Elusive on paper appear to be well short of the talent required to challenge consistently for a Top 4 spot. With contests against the “Ring of Fire” looming this week it will be interesting to see where they sit at the end of Week 2. The team will need to raise their play to higher levels if they wish to see success continue to flow their way. Hype razor has been a standout player for Elusive, having left FC Alliance following the conclusion of the promotion tournament to join a D1 side. He has breathed life into a team that looked dead on the eve of ACL X’s kickoff. His ability to finish his chances will likely decide his team’s fate through the season.

Jumping at the opportunity to acquire a large contingent of players from defending FMVP champions FwC FC, Manager DiLo l 19 l has rebuilt his side as a team capable of challenging the Big Four for ACL power. Their ability to field a consistent lineup may hurt them in the long run but for now, the team will be happy to enter Week 2 inside the playoff picture, even this early in the calendar. His imported stars have provided the offensive boost that the former American Outlawz side struggled to find last season. FwC’s Danny and Aguero have grabbed 4 goals each, and with zF Menez l 7 also on the roster the side could have one of the strongest core groups of forwards in the league.

Extraordinary (Home) v. FC Serenity (Away) – A rematch of ACL IX’s Quarterfinal matchup sees Extraordinary looking to release their new and improved squad on the league’s current champions. The last time these two met in competition, Serenity handed the then-American Outlawz a 6-1 defeat on aggregate. I expect the result will be slightly more competitive this time, though the outcome may remain unchanged.

Extraordinary will need their best game of the season to come away with even a single point. The team will need to field its most competitive eleven possible, and their manager will be hoping he can deliver just that.  This clash occurs on Thursday night will put the stamp on what could end up being a great or disastrous week for Extraordinary. They have competitive games up and down the scheduled three days. Their defense is possibly the biggest weakness they have and will need to close any gaps Dylshkin and habsguy11 could potentially exploit.

Serenity should be preparing for a tough night to close out their week as they face off against two playoff contending teams with dreams of climbing higher up the FVPAA food chain. They are the champions. These are the players everyone is looking to, to set the tone for the standards of what constitutes a star in this league. Failure to deliver on these expectations at any point should be seen as a monumental waste in chances. I do not expect to see Serenity stumble offensively like they did last week.

Elusive SC (Home) v. FC Serenity – A contender for game of the week, and what a fitting way to close out our featured matchups of Week 2. We have a side hoping they can be a Cinderella story, and a set of champions who expect to be in the finals at the conclusion of the ACL X season, clashing at the end of the week. Elusive seek to prove they are contenders instead of pretenders and Serenity will look to reestablish dominance over the ACL’s Division 1.

Elusive, like several teams this week face the “Ring of Fire” and could find their week being full of miserable experiences if they do not come out playing their best or grabbing the few opportunities gifted to them. They will need to knuckle down and get ready for an all-out assault from their opponents. Whether their defense can weather the storm bearing down on them will remain to be seen. This game has the potential to be a great contest or an utter blowout for Elusive.

Serenity come into this game with a decent challenge of a week laid out before them, as has already been stated, they face 5 teams with realistic dreams of playing in the postseason. A stumble or two could find this side heading into Thursday needing 6 points to stay inside of 8th place. I do not expect them to stumble though and it would be in the wake of several massive upsets to do so. By the end of Thursday night, Serenity may have both a Golden Boot and a Golden Glove sitting on the horizon along with a return to the big dance.

 

Games of the Week

Unleashed CF (Home) v. FIFA Harmony (Away) – Our first game of the week comes to us on Tuesday night, and helps us kick off a stellar week of action. Unleashed, a finalist for ACL 9 will want to put out a statement that while their roster is different, the qualities and characteristics that made them perennial contenders in the past is still there. For FH they will need to prove their worth and that they are more than just a typical Week 1 flash in the pan. This game has nail-biter written all over it. Prediction: 2-1, Unleashed CF

Elusive SC (Home) v. FC Serenity (Away) – The second game of the week closes out Week 2 of ACL X. Defending champions clash against another surprise team from Week 1. This game will be decided by the midfield and whose is better at keeping the ball moving forward and through transition into the attack. That plays right into the hands of Serenity who at times look to have 7 midfielders moving the ball on a pitch of eleven men. While Elusive may be in the hunt at the end of the season, I cannot see them hitting the mark Thursday at 10:45pm. Prediction: 3-0, FC Serenity

 

Top 5 Power Rankings:

  1. Viva Futbol – Last season was a rocky one for them as they suffered several upsets and a trip out of the playoffs in the first round. They seem to be looking like the Viva of old, and have filled the gaps left by departing players and look to have the strongest all-around lineup in Division 1. I am expecting more of the same in Week 2. Preseason: 4th
  2. Divine Footwork – This team was my clear favorite going into the Week 1 for one reason, the last time Dirty l 6 l and streets1014 teamed up they produced one of the most dominating sides to ever play 11v11 in North America. The early roster they released suggested it would be no different, a couple controversial departures left many believing they would struggle to find a good finish. But I know these managers, and their recruiting ability left them restocked in less than a week. Preseason: 1st
  3. FC Serenity – An upset loss to FC Alliance might raise question marks about their ranking, but their strong finish to end the week makes me believe it is behind them. They possess the best forward in North America leading one of the strongest midfields from here to Peru, they will be in a title chase all season long. Preseason: 2nd
  4. Unleashed CF – While few would doubt eXo Cavani’s ability to build a contender, not many would expect them to have played so well at the end of Week 1. Questions about their midfield being able to compete against Viva, Divine, and Serenity still exist but that does not mean this side is not a contender for a title. As the season progresses I think Unleashed will consistently remain right around 3rd or 4th going into the postseason. Preseason: 5th
  5. FIFA Harmony – We Have Heart looked to be on the verge of collapsing until James l 15 l resurrected the side, unveiled some new signings and set the ship right. This week they are on course for a rocky week, with all 4 teams above them in my power ranking taking the virtual field against them. When the dust settles I suspect I may be picking a new team for the 5th spot in my Power Rankings, but I would not be surprised to find them hanging around. Preseason: Not Ranked

 

Golden Boot:

  1. eXo Cavani – Unleashed CF – 7 (tied for 1st)
  2. Gringo ST 7 – Viva Futbol – 7 (tied for 1st)
  3. Viva Reyes – FIFA Harmony – 7 (tied for 1st)

Golden Gloves:

  1. Viva Tracy – Viva Futbol – 4 (tied for 1st)
  2. Birgerk1ng – FC Serenity – 4 (tied for 1st)
  3. That Bottleface – Divine Footwork – 3 (tied for 3rd)
  4. Skrillex l 1 l – Unleashed CF – 3 (tied for 3rd)

            The groundskeepers have groomed the fields, the weather looks just right, and the competitors are ready to fire up their consoles for an incredible Week 2 for the American Clubs League’s 10th season.

One Comments

  1. Keep up the good work.

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