Mint City Goes Gaming
by Andrew Pierce
The Mint City Premier League can trace its humble origins back to 2018 when a band of brave Carolina soccer bloggers were bored enough to take their once-healthy FIFA obsession a step further. The first season in the SNST Premier League involved MLS teams, the following season included English League One teams (oh, the dreadful passing and finishing ratings), and the league finally ended in 2019 with LigaMX squads for season three. The idea of a Carolina FIFA league had seemingly run its course.
But then, in March 2020, the sports world (as we knew it then) came to a screeching halt due to the coronavirus pandemic, and the idea to revive a Carolina FIFA league was given new life.
The interest was great enough in the Mint City Collective Slack that two conferences were formed, one each for the PS4 and Xbox gamers among us. Twenty-two teams joined the ranks, and the league's first commissioner decided to combine all of them into one ... let's call it a SuperDraft ... to choose MLS teams to play with. (Nobody wanted to be *that guy* to take *that city* until Max Dove fell on his sword, the brave soul.) Truth be told, the SuperDraft was really fun, and I hope it sticks around for future seasons.
Each of the 10 teams in the PS4 Conference would play their nine opponents, and the 12 teams in the Xbox Conference would play their 11 opponents over the course of 11 weeks. Nine weeks have now passed since that fateful draft, and we can announce the final regular season standings for the PS4 Conference here today:
The winner of the inaugural PS4 Conference regular season is the Portland Timbers, manned by MCC Matthews chapter president Scott Rawls, who buzzed through the competition to claim the title. Timber Joey was busy this year: Rawls racked up 41 goals for this season (an impressive 4.5 goals per game average) en route to an 8-1-0 record. Congrats, Scott.
Rawls now meets the New York Red Bulls, led by captain Ricky Johnston, in the first round of the playoffs. The other PS4 semifinal is a rematch of a thrilling Week 9 matchup between second-seeded FC Cincinnati (Jaime Rodriguez) and the No. 3 seed Vancouver Whitecaps (Alex Orantes). FCC, 7-1-1, were neck and neck with the Timbers all season until their Week 9 loss to Vancouver, while the Whitecaps finished the regular season 6-0-3, having won five of their last six matches.
Meanwhile, the Xbox Conference still has two games remaining in the regular season, and six teams still have a shot at the final two spots. Led by Matt Chantry, Toronto FC locked up a spot with a win over Max and Atl*nta United last week. FC Dallas, led by Terry Hines, has also secured a playoff spot (with seeding still to be determined) thanks to a monster goal differential of +25.
Many matches are streamed lived on Twitch and YouTube, and you can follow along with highlights as they're posted on Twitter at @MintCityPL.
This is also the time of year that American soccer fans usually get to watch some early U.S. Open Cup matches, so while the PS4 playoff teams wait for the Xbox Conference to finish, they're starting their own tournament.
The Mint City Open Cup is open to any and every team on FIFA, so 11 players from Slack are kicking off today with an opening round of Manchester City vs. Manchester City and Liverpool vs. Liverpool. There’s also a David vs. Goliath match in the third play-in game with PSG taking on Stoke City.
Is all of this ridiculous? Yes. Is it a fun way to get through the lockdowns and maintain community during the pandemic? Absolutely.
Who will take the Xbox regular season crown? Who do you think will take home the playoff conference titles for Season One of the MCPL? Will the conference champions even be able to meet to play a two-leg, two-system final in person like we'd hoped? Who do you think will be crowned Open Cup champion on May 31? Will Scott do the double as the regular season and playoff champion? Or the triple with the Open Cup title too?
Who knows! You can follow along with us on Twitter and LeagueRepublic, and please, let us know if you want to join us for Season Two.