The hunt for the 2020 eMLS Cup begins this Thursday, January 9th at eMLS League Series One presented by PlayStation in Philadelphia.
League Series One is the first of three eMLS tournaments that will take place in 2020, followed by League Series Two in February and eMLS Cup in March. Players from 25 MLS teams (including 2021 expansion side Austin FC) will compete to be crowned League Series One champion as well as for points in the 2020 eMLS standings. The League Series One winner will also receive a $7,500 cash prize.
All 25 players will play 12 games during the regular-season portion of the event, which will take place throughout the day on Thursday, Jan. 9 (10 am–5:30 pm ET) and will not be streamed. The top eight overall players (regardless of conference) will qualify for the live-stream portion of the event on Friday, Jan. 10 (6 pm–10:30 pm ET), with the host club (in this case the Philadelphia Union) guaranteed a place on the live stream no matter their player's result.
Orlando City’s eMLS Competitor Abe Valbuena (FIFAabe) returns for his third season with the club. He has qualified for two knockout rounds, made the 2018 eMLS Cup Quarterfinals, advanced to the eMLS Cup Semifinal in 2019, and won the eMLS All-Star Challenge last July.
Along with new pros and new teams, this year’s eMLS introduces new team building rules to the FIFA Ultimate Team (FUT) structure.
- Must have five (5) current MLS players on the field at all times. Current is classified as a player on 2019 team roster at season end.
- Squads are allowed to have Squad Building Challenge players, Player of the Week, Team of the Year, and a maximum of two (2) icons.
- The overall squad rating must be 86 or lower as calculated and shown in-game. This rating rule is to encourage creative and diverse roster building alongside the 5 current MLS players rule.
- All players on squad, including subs, must have overall ratings of at least 75 each. This minimum 75 rating rule is to make sure low rated cards aren’t stacked to bring down overall squad rating.
- No player on subs can be higher than 86. The max 86 rating for subs rule is to prevent high rated cards from being placed in subs, just to avoid lower chemistry ratings in starting XI.
We had a chance to sit down with Abe before his trip to discuss this season’s first competition.
Q: Going into your third eMLS season, how do you leverage your experience going into 2020?
Abe: Experience in the competitive scene is a huge advantage in my opinion. A lot less pressure for me compared to the rookies.
Q: You've qualified for the playoffs in two of your four eMLS events. What does it take to get through a day of grueling regular season play?
Abe: Focus. Complete focus is needed. Any small distraction could affect your gameplay.
Q: Did this year’s new lineup rules give you more freedom?
Abe: Definitely a lot more freedom this year. But at the same time it’s more difficult to fit 5 MLS players with 6 other players from different leagues
Q: How does Nani fit into your squad?
Abe: Nani is the GOAT. Simple as that. He fits into my best 11 any day.
Q: Size up your field of competitors for 2020? Who are some players we should look out for?
Abe: Neto from ATL UTD. Will be a competitive rivalry for sure as I’m looking to show ATL who’s boss.
Q: What has your offseason looked like? How did you prepare for this year?
Abe: Continuing to refine my game is my goal during every off season. Practicing vs. other pros really takes you to the next level.