After a few extra months to hone their skills, the top FIFA 20 players in North America are finally back to to wrap up the eMLS season with the eMLS Cup presented by Coca-Cola and PlayStation.
We know it’s been a while since you've seen eMLS action, so in order to get you ready here are a few things to look out for in the tournament, along with some predictions for how eMLS Cup might play out.
New squad rules
In all previous eMLS tournaments players were allowed to use a mix of Icon (retired soccer legends), Team of the Year, In Form and other special player cards as long as three MLS players were mixed into the squad. This time around at eMLS Cup, the team sheets will look a little different.
With Team of the Season So Far cards released in FIFA 20 back in May, there are 11 new high-rated MLS cards now available for players to use. These include a 96-rated Carlos Vela, a 94-rated Josef Martinez, and a 92-rated Nani. Because of this, all eMLS competitors will be using a full squad of MLS players. Each team will only be allowed a maximum of eight MLS Team of the Season So Far cards in the starting XI, and the remaining three players must be MLS gold, silver or bronze cards.
These changes to the squads will likely shake up the results as most eMLS competitors aren't used to playing with full MLS teams on a day-to-day basis. Given that there are only 11 MLS Team of the Season So Far players available to choose from, most teams will have very similar squads, creating a more level playing field. With no players like Ronaldo, Messi, and Pele, this year's eMLS Cup will truly be unlike any of the previous eMLS events we've seen.
Back-to-back treble winners?
Last year Doolsta shocked all of eMLS by winning League Series One, League Series Two and eMLS Cup to complete a treble in his rookie season. The ex-Philadelphia Union man, now competing for Nashville, has struggled in 2020 though, capped by a 17th-place finish at League Series Two that saw him narrowly avoid having to play in the Last Chance Qualifier.
This year, Fiddle of FC Cincinnati has replaced Doolsta as the dominant player on the circuit, winning both League Series One and Two. The No. 1 seed going into eMLS Cup is looking to complete a treble of his own and will have what looks to be the most favorable route of any top four seeds to make it to the final. His first matchup will come in the quarterfinals against the winner of No. 9 Adamou of the New York Red Bulls and No. 8 Alekzandur of Sporting KC. If Fiddle goes onto win that match he would then face either No. 4 Exraa, No. 5 RemiMartinn or the winner of the Last Chance Qualifier.
Will Fiddle become the next eMLS treble winner? The new-look rosters throw a bit of a wrench into the equation, as he won't be able to field the squad that got him here. The only other thing going against the hottest kid in eMLS is the loss of momentum he had to take when the original eMLS Cup was postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Not being able to compete on the big stage could also play a factor as Fiddle seemed to thrive on the energy of a live audience. This year we will see different energy with each player competing from their home, but based on what we've seen so far in 2020, Fiddle is still the favorite to win it all.
The Last Chance Qualifier
The return of eMLS Cup also marked the return of the Last Chance Qualifier. The bottom half of eMLS competed on Friday prior to eMLS Cup in a separate tournament where Crew96SKamzz of Columbus Crew SC took the 12th and final seed in eMLS Cup in something of an upset. The favorites to make it out included BITW7 of the Chicago Fire, KingCJ0 of D.C. United and Kid M3mito of the Houston Dynamo.