Once 2019's breakout eMLS star doolsta signed with Nashville SC this season after winning all three eMLS events playing for the Philadelphia Union, punctuating the treble by lifting eMLS Cup, it was oh so fitting that the star would be returning to Philly for 2020's first eMLS event.
This week, doolsta — aka 19-year-old Temple University student Cormac Dooley — will arrive at Union Transfer in Philly wearing Nashville's colors for eMLS League Series One. He's putting his unprecedented three-title streak on the line in front of those who supported him through every triumph.
“Getting to know the Philly fans, they’re very passionate," doolsta told MLSsoccer.com on Monday. "They love all their Philly sports teams, so I expect the reception to be a bit of a mixed one. I’m sure there will be a few boos – I am competing against their player, after all – but I’m sure there will be a few to support me. At the end of the day, I’m sure nothing is going to change between me and the fans, they supported me last year when I was winning titles."
Doolsta, of course, is well aware of the city's history in sports, which includes the infamous booing of Santa Claus.
"Hopefully," he continued, "they’re not too harsh on me.”
Currently ranked No. 29 in the world, doolsta found a balance in his first year of college with his professional FIFA career quite well. It's not easy, and while he says the internet connection at his dorm pleasantly surprised him, he navigated the choppy waters that is freshman year to keep both his academic pursuit and FIFA career humming along. Now, he'll have to navigate a stronger tide of competition in this season's first eMLS event.
There are a few high profile new faces. Atlanta United signed 16-year-old Brazilian phenom Paulo Neto, currently ranked No. 4 in the world on PlayStation 4. New York Red Bulls added George Adamou (G_Adamou10), who is currently tied for No. 16 among PS4 players.
“Every year eMLS is growing, even last year was a big increase, but I think this year is going to be the biggest group of talent eMLS has ever had. Last year there was three or four tough games I didn’t want to play, but now it’s double or tripled. Every team is getting top, top talent.”
With his 2019 of winning, the target will be on doolsta's back this year. He's ready for all challengers.
“Obviously coming off winning all three last year, I’m aiming for that again," doolsta said. "Having won, that’s the only goal for me now. Once getting a taste of it all, I want to keep it that way. I want the titles to stay under my name.”