PORTLAND, Ore. – Portland Timbers eMLS competitor Edgar "RCTID Thiago" Guerrero went undefeated over his last seven matches of the eMLS League Series Two, presented by Coca-Cola and PlayStation, during regular season play at the KeyBank Club at Providence Park Friday to earn the fifth seed in Saturday's playoff showdown at Pure Space. He ended the day with seven wins, three draws and two losses for a total of 23 points.
Though Guerrero was guaranteed a spot in the knockout rounds by virtue of playing for the host city, he did not rely on that luxury, going all in on earning a spot the hard way. The day was highlighted by a 4-2 win over Atlanta United FC's Paulo Neto – ranked 11th in the world – and a commanding 4-1 win over FC Cincinnati's Fiddle – winner of last month's League Series One in Philadelphia. The day's run also pushed him into 11th place in the overall regular season standing, earning the final playoff spot for eMLS Cup at SXSW next month in Austin, Texas.
"I think I started off really slow and I wasn't quite as focused," said Guerrero of his overall performance. "But once I got comfortable against Atlanta, the rest of my opponents were a lot easier because he's really good at attacking and it just really got me in my groove."
The day began even for Thiago with him going two wins and two losses before the break. He defeated Philadelphia Union's eMLS player and pro football running back Jay Ajayi 5-0 to open the morning and against Seattle Sounders FC's TheMarsBars11, Guerrero went down to 10 men early after a red card to his Cristiano Ronaldo but Portland came out a gutsy 1-0 winner.
After the break, Guerrero lost a close, 2-1 match to PhilB94 of Toronto FC, but then went on a tear, winning five of his last seven matches with two draws. For Guerrero, it was all a matter of getting back to basics.
"I think the key was to figure out my attack," he said. "Because at first, I was over-thinking everything. I wanted them to give me the chances instead of creating them myself so once I was able to get going and start stringing passes together, the game became a lot easier."
Guerrero made a key change to his roster early. Rules require five MLS players on the field at all times and eMLS competitors are allowed two FIFA Ultimate Team Icon cards as part of their XI along with any other FUT card they like – provided the overall squad average does not go over an 88 rating . For Thiago, that meant at the start of the day Portuguese great Eusébio and Dutch legend Ruud Gullit taking up the Icon slots. Eusébio proved lethal in front of goal but midway through the early round games, Guerrero swapped in the famous French midfielder Patrick Vieira for Gullit. While both served roles as midfield destroyers and ballwinners, Vieira gave Guerrero more fluidity in his overall attack.
Providence Park served as a welcoming host to the league with all of the players taking in the stadium and a number of them playing a pick-up game under the lights upon the close of the day's games.
Now with the fifth seed in hand, Thiago will face Chicago Fire FC's BITW7 – a player whom he narrowly beat 1-0 on Friday with a late, 85th minute game-winner from CR7. While the match was close, Guerrero knows he'll need to be extra focused on Saturday.
#eMLS League Series Two is setting up to be a classic.— 🎮 Major League Soccer (@eMLS) February 15, 2020
El Tráfico 2 (@RemiMartinn vs @Guastella11)@FiddleGT vs. @didychrislito
Top seed @Pauloneto999 vs. @PhilB94_ @TheBITW7 vs. Hometown hero @RCTID_Thiago
2/15 | 7 PM ET | https://t.co/sg0rt4HziI@CocaCola @PlayStation pic.twitter.com/xFkR81mO7h
"I just need to keep the chances [for Chicago] to a minimum and capitalize when I get my first opportunity," he said.
For the McMinnville, Ore. resident, Guerrero is excited to be playing in front of a hometown crowd Saturday at Pure Space and he's eager to play well.
"I hope I can put on a good show," he said.
Come support @RCTID_Thiago in the @emls League Series Two finals tomorrow at Pure Space! Event starts at 3pm with FREE entry, Timbers players, and giveaways.— Portland Timbers (@TimbersFC) February 15, 2020
DETAILS | https://t.co/X5hwRYoSYT | #RCTID pic.twitter.com/Hlh5Mv3vdS
Details for Saturday: Can I attend?
Yes! If you happen to be in Portland, you can still sign up FREE to attend the event on Saturday evening, which will take place at Pure Space in the Pearl District:
Doors open at 3pm PT, and the event will run until approximately 7:30 pm PT. Along with being free, the event is all-ages and those in attendence will be able to mingle with Portland Timbers players Bill Tuiloma and Andrés Flores, try out your own best FIFA moves at the PlayStation booth, check out the custom eMLS SCUF Gaming controllers with special-edition Timbers versions on sale on site, enjoy the Coca-Cola activations, receive exclusive eMLS x Timbers merch, get your own custom FIFA Ultimate Team card, meet Timber Joey, and more.
Moreover, the new Timbers 2020 secondary kit will be for sale at Pure Space with free name and number customization available on site.
How to watch and follow?
In addition to the live stream, fans can follow the results of their team's player and get up-to-date standings for both Friday's non-streamed games (10 am–5:30 pm PT) and Saturday's main event. Be sure to bookmark these pages if you want the latest on how your preferred player is doing: