On the pitch or over pixels, LAFC continues to dominate the competition.
Taking to the sticks in Week 1 of the eMLS Tournament Special, teammates RemiMartinn and Adama Diomande went a perfect four out of four against the competition. They now advance to the championship round on May 17.
Hosted by FOX Sports, the eMLS competition pits teams consisting of an MLS player and their eMLS counterpart against each other. The winner is decided by the best aggregate score over the two matches, as the MLS players square off against each other first before giving way to the gamers in the second leg.
The first round was another digital derby with LAFC taking on the Galaxy team of Javier "Chicharito" Hernández and The Godfather. And just like they did in the playoffs and in the LA Charity FIFA Challenge - which raised over $5k for those affected by COVID-19 - LAFC dominated, dispatching of the Galaxy with 1-0 and 3-1 wins.
Next up was the Chicago Fire. And it was more of the same. LAFC ran wild once again thanks to 4-0 and 2-1 wins to secure passage to the championship round.
Here are the takeaways from Dio and Remi's demolition derby:
Art Imitating Life
Did Bob Bradley give these guys a pep talk before the match? Dio and Remi looked the part as they played what can only be described as an LAFC style in their four matches.
Both players were ruthless in attack and took advantage of opponents' errors via pressure in the offensive half. It may have been digital but the speed of thought and the way the players applied pressure with the ball and running at backlines looked every bit of what we're used to at Banc of California Stadium.
Alas, FIFA has yet to put the Banc in their game. But you have to think it's a matter of time before we see the 3252 bouncing on our gaming consoles.
No Time To Waste
Speaking of video games imitating real life... Adama Diomande called his own number often. And he wasted no time getting into the attack.
The speed at which Dio got the ball forward kept both of his opponents off guard. The LAFC forward was aggressive from whistle to whistle and often times he did it with the digital version of himself. In his two matches, Dio scores a hat trick of goals with his digital counterpart. None were more Dio-esque than this solo effect against Francisco Calvo and the Fire in the second round:
Remind you a bit of that run against the Galaxy to seal it in the playoffs? Yeah, me too.
Direct & Deadly
Both LAFC players wreaked havoc on opponents by exploiting space behind the defense.
The gamewinner for Dio against Chicharito was the blueprint in Week 1. Bypass the midfield, force defenders to step forward, and spring the a teammate in behind.
It was both simple and effective. And credit to Dio and Remi holding their nerve when 1v1 with goalkeepers. We've all been there in FIFA, do everything right only to botch the chance. That wasn't the case for these guys.
Somebody Has To Say It
Zero goals in MLS play. Zero goals in eMLS.
As Dio said after their match, "Welcome to the US."
That Goal Differential
Dio and RemiMartinn did the Black & Gold faithful proud by advancing to the championship round. And they did it in impressive fashion.
Over the course of the four matches, LAFC racked up a +8 goal differential. They trailed twice in the matches, and went on to win those contests 3-1 and 2-1 respectively.
Dio's 4-0 drubbing of Francisco Calvo in the second round all but secured LAFC's place in the championship. But RemiMartinn wasn't about to slack on his teammate. This Diego Rossi golazo tied things at 1-1 before who else but Dio sealed it:
The synergy between MLS player and gamer has to worry LAFC's prospective opponents. They'll be favorites headed into the competition's championship round.