NEW YORK, NY – As part of MLS Unites, a league-wide platform designed to educate communities, entertain fans and elevate heroic efforts taking place during the COVID-19 pandemic, Major League Soccer and FOX Sports announced on Monday that eMLS Tournament Special presented by Coca-Cola® and PlayStation® will debut on Sunday, April 19 on FS1 and FOX Deportes at 4 p.m. PT. The series will be hosted by FOX Sports Stu Holden, Rachel Bonnetta and Rodolfo Landeros, with colour commentary from Mike LaBelle.
On Sunday, May 10, Vancouver Whitecaps FC centre back Erik Godoy will battle Toronto FC midfielder Mark Delgado in Leg One of the first round, while Leg Two will see Vancouver's eMLS player Alex ‘exraa’ Gonzalez-Aldana versus Toronto's eMLS player Phil ‘PhilB94’ Balke. The best aggregate score from the Canadian clubs will then face the winner of Atlanta United FC with Franco Escobar and Paulo Neto versus Orlando City SC with Nani and Abe ‘FIFA Abe’ Valbuena.
“The eMLS Tournament Special represents the spirit of MLS Unites by entertaining fans and giving back to our communities,” said Camilo Durana, MLS SVP of Properties and Events. “We’re thrilled many of the league’s top players are joining our eMLS participants to compete and also provide benefit for those on the front lines. We are also thankful to FOX Sports and all of our partners for their collaboration on the innovative series that will be both fun to watch and make a difference.”
Each Sunday at 4 p.m. PT the five-episode series will team up MLS players and eMLS players from the same MLS clubs in single-elimination EA SPORTS™ FIFA 20 tournaments. The Week One Tournament pits the Chicago Fire against FC Cincinnati before the digital version of ‘El Trafico’ between LA Galaxy and LAFC takes the stage.
“We are thrilled to partner with MLS on this innovative project, which will entertain viewers during this difficult time while also helping to support COVID 19 relief efforts,” said Joe Franzetta, FOX Sports VP, Rights & Business Relationships. “With the perfect combination of the talented team hosting the event and the fan-favorite MLS and eMLS players, it will be exciting to watch this series come to life.”
The opening match this Sunday, April 19 will showcase two Costa Rican National Team defenders on opposite ends of the digital pitch as Chicago Fire’s Francisco Calvo faces off against FC Cincinnati’s Kendall Waston in the first leg. The second leg sees FC Cincinnati’s eMLS competitor Gordon Thornsberry, currently ranked 30th in the world on PS4 in the EA SPORTS™ FIFA 20 Global Series against Chicago Fire’s Enrique Espinoza. Espinoza truly blurs the digital and the physical pitch by representing Chicago Fire as their eMLS competitor while also coaching for the Chicago Fire Juniors City youth club.
Meanwhile ‘El Trafico’ focuses on the attacking side of the pitch with LA Galaxy’s newest striker and Mexican International Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez against crosstown rival and LAFC offensive force Adama Diomande in Leg One of Week One’s second matchup. Leg Two features Galaxy’s Giuseppe Guastella, a 5-time finalist in the FIFA eWorld Cup, and LAFC’s eMLS player, Martin Oregel. Oregel is new to eMLS this season but already making statements as a top-100 ranked FIFA player in the EA SPORTS™ FIFA 20 Global Series.
In the coming weeks, D.C. United’s Paul Arriola, New England Revolution’s Diego Fagundez, Minnesota United’s Tyler Miller, Sporting Kansas City’s Wan Kuzain, New York Red Bulls Aaron Long, NYCFC’s Sean Johnson, FC Dallas’ Fafa Picault, and Houston Dynamo’s Memo Rodriguez will compete in the tournament.
After each episode, MLS WORKS, the league’s social responsibility platform, and FOX Sports will make a donation on behalf of the winning club to Feeding America®, with MLS also supporting Food Banks Canada.
Each episode will take place on an entirely remote basis with MLS and eMLS players competing from their home and will feature four different clubs competing to win. Matches will be two legs, with the MLS players playing the first leg and the eMLS professional FIFA players competing against each other in the second leg. The best aggregate score will move on. The four winning teams from the first four episodes will qualify to participate in the fifth and final eMLS Tournament Special on Sunday, May 17 and a champion will be crowned.
Through eMLS Tournament Special and other programs, Major League Soccer is proud to support EA’s “Stay Home. Play Together.” Initiatives, helping the gaming community find more ways to connect through play during a time where people need to be physically apart. To learn more, you can follow #stayandplay on Twitter and Instagram or check out www.ea.com/en-ca/stay-and-play for upcoming activities and livestreams.
EA SPORTS™, Coca-Cola®, PlayStation®, Cheez-It®, Pringles®, and Scuf Gaming are all official partners of the 2020 eMLS season and the eMLS Tournament Special.
Be sure to follow @eMLS on Twitter for the latest updates on the eMLS Tournament Special, produced in partnership with Engine Shop.
“PlayStation” is a registered trademark or trademark of Sony Interactive Entertainment Inc.