CHESTER, Pa. – Portland Timbers FIFA competitor Edgar “RCTIDThiago” Guerrero opened his 2020 eMLS season at League Series One presented by Coca-Cola and PlayStation in Philadelphia today with an even overall performance.
Finishing the day with a record of 4-5-3 (15 points) and in 12th place in the 25-team, single-table standings, Guerrero did not qualify for the knockout rounds in Pennsylvania (the top seven spots qualify along with host Philadelphia) though he is still very much in the running for one of the top 11 spots at eMLS Cup in March in Austin at SXSW.
“I think I started off really strong and then the middle games, I wasn’t quite as focused,” he said. "I got one result at the end – a 3-0 win [over Orlando City’s FIFAAbe] – where I played my style and dominated possession…But I know what I need to fix for next time and hopefully do better in Portland.”
That Portland event that Guerrero references is eMLS League Series Two set to take part on Feb. 14-15 in the Rose City – a place he feels will give him an extra edge. Not to mention the fact that, like the Union had as hosts in Philadelphia, Guerrero is guaranteed at least the eighth seed in Portland’s knockout rounds in February.
“It’s going to be a lot of fun,” he said of being back home. “A lot of people are going to be there [and] hopefully, I’ll put on a good show and make it far in the playoffs.”
Having played in front of hostile crowds in Dallas and Boston last year during eMLS tournaments, Guerrero is eager to hear the Timbers faithful on his side next month.
“When you’re playing against someone else’s crowd and they’re cheering, it does affect you because you don’t focus as much,” he said. “You hear them a lot, booing you every time you get the ball or something like that.
“I think playing with a crowd cheering for me will be a big help.”
Guerrero began the day strong with wins over FC Dallas’ i9ibbs and D.C. United’s KingCJ0 plus a big 5-0 win over Minnesota United FC’s JayAdams. But the afternoon was tougher with a 2-1, second-half stoppage time loss against the New England Revolution’s JK0 among the more difficult.
Guerrero came from behind to get a 2-2 draw against the Montréal Impact’s Mehdibob3 and he was one of only three players to knick a result against New York City FC’s Didychrislito – a player who is a mainstay on the global FIFA circuit. Down 1-0, RCTIDThiago found an equalizer in the 79th minute to steal a point. The 3-0 win over Orlando City included the goal of the day: a curling shot from Brazilian legend Ronaldo that pinged off both posts and in.
As the 25 teams were arranged alphabetically to play each other over a closed network, Guerrero found himself sitting next to new Philadelphia Union eMLS competitor, Jay Ajayi – the Super Bowl-winning former Philadelphia Eagles running back Jay Ajayi. An eMLS rookie, Ajayi had a difficult day, losing all his matches though the two competitors were seen often chatting in-between games.
Photo: Brian Costello / Portland Timbers
"I helped him set up his team a little bit and move some stuff around," said Guerrero. "He’s cool. He’s very humble. It was good talking to him."
While there’s still points to be gained at League Series Two in Portland that can help Guerrero move up in the single-table standings, he knows he still has much to practice between now and next month.
“I need to work on finding a way to finish with some of my players because I had some very good chances in games that were very close but I was unable to get a goal,” he said. “I just need to finish better [and] stay focused.”