PORTLAND, Ore. – Playing in front of his hometown crowd, Portland Timbers eMLS competitor Edgar "RCTID Thiago" Guerrero was nine minutes away from being eliminated in the eMLS League Two Series, presented by Coca-Cola and PlayStation, quarterfinals Saturday at Pure Space. But as the saying goes, it's not over till it's over.
After 80 minutes of scoreless soccer, the quarterfinal match exploded into life when Enrique "BITW7" Espinoza (representing Chicago Fire) took lead with a Lionel Messi goal in the 81st minute. But despite conceding late, Guerrero was not worried.
After giving up the late goal, Guerrero roared back when Eusébio delivered the tying goal just five minute later.
"I knew I couldn't lose," Guerrero said after the match. "I have played him quite a few times and I hadn't lost to him before."
Guerrero didn't leave anything to chance in an extra time period. Moments before the whistle for the end of regulation, in the fifth minute of stoppage time, the Rose City crowd was sent into a frenzy when Cristiano Ronaldo headed in a free kick from 20 yards out to send Guerrero to the semifinals – the second League Series semifinal appearance in his Timbers career, along with his run to 2019 League Series Two finals in Dallas.
"That was big, the crowd got really excited, I got really excited. Scoring a late winner is big," Guerrero said.
Unfortunately for Guerrero, the win was his high point of the evening as he fell to Atlanta United's Paulo Neto, 3-0, in the semifinals. Neto, whose lone loss during the preliminary rounds was to Guerrero, came into the year ranked No. 4 in the world PlayStation FIFA rankings.
Despite the semifinals loss, Guerrero was happy with his top-four playoff finish especially after not reaching the knockout stage in the eMLS League Series One in last month in Philadelphia.
"I wish I could have gone one step further. But overall my play was a lot better," Guerrero said.
Guerrero also believes the tournament sets him up well for March's eMLS Cup in Austin, Texas. Between his play in the regular season portion of day one and earning a bonus point in the standings after making it into the League Series Two semifinals, Guerrero clinched a spot in the Cup finals at SXSW. But before looking ahead to next month, the man from McMinnville, Ore. did take a moment to reflect on his weekend as host player.
After getting only three hours of sleep due to his excitement the night before, Guerrero took a nap at Pure Space just hours before his match. In addition to the power nap, Guerrero had one other advantage – the hometown fans in attendance.
"It was really energizing. I didn't get a lot of sleep last night, so I was a little tired but once I got out there the crowd really hyped me up," Guerrero said.
Even before the matches took place, the seats were filled with fans gearing up to see the League Series Two games. Supporters were able to try their hand at playing FIFA 20 at the PlayStation booth with special, Timbers-customized SCUF Gaming controllers. One of those people was Fernando Lopez. A Timbers fan since 2007, Lopez was able to take on Bill Tuiloma in two matches.
After his Chelsea fell to Tuiloma's Manchester City 2-0 in their first match, Lopez secured an extra time winner in the rematch, defeating Tuiloma, 3-2.
"I was expecting good competition and he definitely was that," said Lopez, who divides his time between sections 102 and 108 when attending Timbers matches.
Lopez wasn't the only person to take on Tuiloma. The Timbers defender also played a friendly against Minnesota United FC's Hassani Dotson. Dotson was in attendance alongside teammate Mason Toye, who are in town for the Timbers preseason tournament, which kicks off Sunday at Providence Park (TICKETS).
Tuiloma was also joined by Timbers players Diego Valeri, Andres Florés, Eryk Williamson, and T2's Max Ornstil as Portland players supporting Guerrero on the nigh. Valeri could be seen throughout the night taking on all-comers at the FIFA station.
The 2020 eMLS Cup will take place on March 21 during SXSW in Austin, Texas.