The second eMLS tournament of the year kicks off in the Rose City this weekend, as a collection of some of the top EA Sports FIFA players in the world will be gathering for League Series Two presented by Coca Cola and PlayStation to compete for a title and a cash prize at Pure Space in Portland's Pearl District.
In League Series One in Philadelphia we saw new faces, new rules, and a new champion. The competition in League Series Two promises to be fierce. With more ranked players in the world top 100 than ever before, there are multiple faces vying for the eMLS trophy. Today, we'll look at the three things you need to look out for in League Series Two, which will be streamed on Saturday at 7 pm EST on Twitch.tv/emls, Twitter, as well as right here on MLSsoccer.com.
Team of the Year
At the beginning of January, EA Sports released the annual ‘Team of the Year’ in FIFA which consists of some of the highest rated players in the game. These 12 cards include the likes of a 99-rated Lionel Messi, a 99-rated Virgil Van Dijk, and a 99-rated Cristiano Ronaldo. All of these players will now be usable in eMLS squads in Portland. The eMLS players still need to use at least five MLS players in their starting squads, but the remaining 6 players can include Team of the Year players. Expect to see almost every eMLS player using Van Dijk, the best center back in FIFA, along with some combination of Kylian Mbappe, Ronaldo, and Messi.
New Faces vs. Old Faces
The new faces of eMLS came to play in Philadelphia and now that they are settled in and know what to expect, we can expect them to turn up in Portland. Out of the eight finalists in League Series One, five of them were first-time eMLS players. Of the new faces, one of my favorites to watch in this tournament is Paulo Neto from Atlanta United. Neto came in as one of the marquee signings in eMLS for the 2020 season and is currently ranked 11th in the world. With an unlucky draw in League Series One, he played Fiddle from FC Cincinnati who went on to win the tournament. At the young age of 16, his resume outside of eMLS includes a selection to the Brazilian eNational Team, a semi-final finish in the 2019 Global Series in Atlanta, and another semi-final finish at a tournament in Bucharest.
As for the old faces, none should be counted out. Fiddle comes into this tournament as the favorite, as he's currently ranked first in the power rankings and 24th in the world. You also have two standouts from the 2019 eMLS season in Doolsta from Nashville SC and DidyChrislito from NYCFC. Although the new talent in eMLS came in strong at League Series One, don’t be surprised if the one of the old faces grabs the title yet again in Portland.
The Hometown Kid
As we head to Portland for League Series Two, the main player to look out for is RCTID Thiago of the Portland Timbers. Thiago, who is a three-year eMLS veteran, is coming off a very successful 2019 campaign that saw him finish second in League Series Two in Dallas and make it to the semifinals at eMLS Cup. With a 4-3-5 record this season in League Series One, he finished in the 12th spot, giving him a very realistic chance of making it to eMLS Cup.
Additionally, Thiago will have a guaranteed spot in the top eight for League Series Two because of a new rule this season which gives the hometown player an automatic qualification spot. As we’ve seen in the past, home field advantage in eMLS is very real, so Thiago will be looking to take advantage. Timbers fans are expected to show up in numbers on Saturday night, which could give Thiago the push he needs to make a run.