Over a busy and goal-filled series of online qualifiers, Portland Timbers eMLS competitor Bruno “CptBruno” Albino clinched a top-four spot in the 2023 eMLS League Series 1 tournament this week and now moves directly onto the quarterfinals this Sunday in New York City.
CptBruno went 8-3-2 over the course of two days of online play and racked up a +16 goal differential—best for third overall across all 26 league competitors. It was a strong start out of the gate for the season and had CptBruno excited for this weekend’s in-person event in the Big Apple.
“My gameplay surprised even me in the qualifiers,” he said of his performance so far. “I was practicing hard the past few weeks but wasn't expecting to clinch a top-four spot.
“My attack was on point and the defense needs a few adjustments.”
CptBruno’s schedule included coming back from a 3-1 deficit to defeat 2019 eMLS Cup champ doolsta from the New York Red Bulls in a 5-4 opening match thriller. Albino also had commanding wins over Houston Dynamo FC’s JordyReyes – a 5-0 drubbing – as well as Columbus Crew SC’s Godfather that saw Albino win 7-0.
Coming into the final online qualifier, CptBruno needed to win and get some help in other results to snag that all-important fourth spot. Facing New England’s YoungggCarter, Albino scored a late second-half goal to win the hard-fought match, 1-0, with the rest of the league results falling his way.
“I have played lots of edgy and tense games in my career, but I think nothing matches [that last game],” he said. “I was pressing but could not score.
“Thankfully, I scored a very tight goal in the last minutes to clutch it all.”
All eMLS competitors have access to all FIFA 23 Ultimate Team cards to construct their roster – meaning PSG’s Kylian Mbappe and Brazilian great Ronaldo suit up in Timbers green – but for eMLS, players must also keep at least five MLS players on the field at any time. For Albino, both Mbappe and Ronaldo scored the majority of goals with a midfield anchored by Dutch legend Ruud Gullit and Toronto FC’s Noble Okello bossing the midfield. NYRB’s Carlos Coronel was solid in goal.
Now Albino must wait to see who he plays next. All competitors outside of the top four move into a group stage format Saturday with two groups of six and two groups of five playing a round-robin schedule with the top two of each group advancing to Sunday’s knockout stage. These matches will be streamed by participating clubs and players respective Twitch channels starting at 9:30am PT.
CptBruno, however, is automatically seeded into the quarterfinals which also already guarantees him a portion of the $25,000 tournament prize pool. From the quarterfinal stage on, each match-up is a two-legged affair with aggregate goal totals determining the winner. Sunday’s playoffs and grand final can be seen on MLS’ main and secondary Twitch feeds beginning at 12pm PT.
The Sao Paulo native Albino is keen to both see Manhattan and play against some of the best players in North America.
“As someone who was born and raised in a megalopolis like NYC, it’s going to be awesome to visit the city,” he said. “Gameplay-wise, I have already guaranteed a place in the quarterfinals so I can dream to be the champion.”