eMLS Cup 5 Takeaways | RemiMartinn Takes LAFC On A Run To The Semis

There's too much football on TV. Literally, there is. I should know because I've tried to watch every bit of it.

We went from a full stop for months. Zero. Nothing. Nada. To matches every day, nearly all day. 

I've been wrapped up in the restarts of the Bundesliga, Serie A, La Liga, and Premier League throughout the past couple of weeks - Germany got such headstart, they're already done. Then the NWSL pulled me in by becoming the first North American league to return to competitive play. And we're still a couple of weeks away from adding another league when LAFC returns in the MLS is Back Tournament in Orlando.

And still, I can't get enough. 

With LAFC a few weeks away, I watched the digital Black & gold, led by RemiMartinn, make a run at the 2020 eMLS Cup presented by Coca-Cola and Playstation. Here are my takeaways from Remi's strong close to the season and the tournament as a whole:

Who Else To Open The Tournament?

It's not a party until Diego Rossi arrives.

He scored the first goal in LAFC history in 2018. Then he scored the first U.S. Open Cup goal a few months later. He picked up where he left off by scoring the first goal of 2019 as well. So, of course, Diego Rossi scored the first goal of the 2020 eMLS Cup.

In fact, an LAFC player scored the second of the tournament when Eduard Atuesta finished the second in Adamou's (NYRB) convincing 3-0 win to start the tournament.

So Much LAFC

A big change was made to the roster rules prior to the tournament. 

The challengers could only rely on MLS players in their teams. No icons, no legends. They did have the opportunity to use up to eight MLS Team of the Season players though. 

Naturally, with LAFC having the most players of any MLS team on the FIFA TOTS, the Black & Gold was heavily involved in matches. Nearly every match featured at least two LAFC players in both starting 11s. 

It was a little odd seeing Eduard Atuesta in a Portland Timbers jersey though. Or Carlos Vela suited up in the red and black stripes of Atlanta United. That part might give me nightmares.

Revenge Is Best Served Cold

At the League Series One event to start the season, RemiMartinn went ahead by a goal in a quarterfinal matchup with Vancouver's Exraa.

The tournament in Portland was Remi's in eMLS. He represented the Black & Gold admirably but was unable to hold on to his one-goal advantage, bowing out to Exraa. The tables were turned this time around.

After a 2-1 victory to dispatch of Crew96Skamzz (CLB) in the first round, Remi met Exraa once again in a quarterfinal. This time, it was Exraa taking the initiative. 

Remi started the match with tons of possession. Wave after wave crashed on Exraa's defense but it was a lightning-quick counterattack from the challenger the resulted in the match's first goal.

Not to be deterred, Remi stuck to his gameplan. More long spells of possession pushed Exraa deep into the defensive half. Remi's LAFC squad were patient in looking for openings, cognizant of the threat Exraa already displayed on the counter. Not long after the opener, LAFC was level through Alejandro Pozuelo after a nice movement from one touchline to the other to open up space in the box for a simple cutback.

Exraa pushed back in the second half with the score tied 1-1. But Remi weathered an early onslaught.

It was Pozuelo once again playing the hero with a pinpoint finish from outside the box. Against the run of play, Remi worked the ball into his attacking midfielder at the top of the box. Twisting one way and then the other, he arrowed a booming shot into the back of the net. 

With the pressure squarely on Exraa, Remi found more than a few opportunities to add to his lead. However, he wouldn't need it. The 2-1 scoreline was enough and it was a reversal of their quarterfinal way back at the beginning of the season. 

Goals Go Dry

Coming up against eventual tournament champion Adamou in the semifinal, RemiMartinn refused to deviate.

Playing his style of prolonged possession with his squad pushed deep in the opposition's half, Remi moved the ball quickly with short, quick passes. An early goal in Adamou's favor swung possession even more into Remi's favor. But unlike previous matches, he just couldn't find the breakthrough.

Adamou stood firm with all 11 players behind the ball. Remi had the freedom to move the ball side to side but the entries into the box were scarce. Adamou was strict in his maintaining his team's defensive shape and clogged central shooting lanes. As long as Remi didn't score, Adamou had no interest in risking for a second goal.

The result was just one clear chance for Remi in the match. In the 87th minute, Nani forced a big save in one of the rare moments Remi found a player in some space in a dangerous area. Slumped into his chair after Nani's effort was parried around the post, Remi seemed resigned to his fate. His run had come to an end thanks to the dedicated defense work of Adamou.

Not Bad For Your Debut

A rundown of RemiMartinn's 2020 season:

One quarterfinal. Three semifinals in four tournaments. A Top 4 finish in the biggest event of the year. Improvement each tournament. Tons of money raised to help those affected by COVID-19. Not bad for your first full eMLS season.

RemiMartinn went from relatively unknown to digital superstar in the course of one season. For LAFC, it was a strong debut campaign in the competition and one to hopefully build off next season. 

Headed into the 2020 eMLS Cup, commentators referred to Remi as a force on the rise. A semifinal appearance confirmed those sentiments. And Season 2 looks like he'll be a force to be reckoned with.

 

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