With the end of the MLS regular season next month, Esports Fairplay and DC United hosted their 4th and final DC United FIFA tournament this passing Sunday at Scarlet Oak Restaurant & Bar. It was a beautiful warm day; the tournament was set outside on the restaurant patio and was ready to have the best FIFA players in the DMV(DC,MD,VA) come out and compete for a chance to qualify for DC United’s championship tournament. Each winner of the initial 4 tournaments will be partnered with a DC United professional player to compete in a co-op tournament against the other winners. With this last tournament you could feel the pressure and desperation, this was the last opportunity to qualify, failure would mean waiting another year for a chance.
We again had the opportunity to follow Capitol Underground sponsored FIFA player, Trevor Williams, as he attempted once again to qualify for the co-op championship. With his heartbreaking loss in the previous semi-finals against champion “Luis "Reck1ess Ghost" Torres, Trevor was determined to learn from his previous mistakes and take a new approach to the competition. Trevor would still have an uphill battle as prominent players in the community like Andy "TraplordAndy" Palma, Didi Otisi, and Adam Benhayoun were still in the hunt for the title. But Trevor had a slight advantage on all the other competitors, he had his coach Stephen Williams at his side. Having an extra pair of eyes who can analyze the game from a different perspective can be essential in tailoring your game and adapting to the competition.
Trevor’s first match was against a new face, Junaid_Dar. His play-style and skill set were unknown, so Trevor decided to take a cautious and balanced approach. Early in the match Junaid_Dar found an early opening in Trevor’s defense and capitalized with a 30’ min goal. Down 1-point Trevor attempted to capitalize on numerous opportunities to equalize, but every attempt ended just wide of the goal. It was not the best start to the tournament, but Trevor didn’t seem phased, even after going into the 2nd half down 1-nil. Trevor did not seem to make any tactical changes after the half but continued with his balanced play-style. This would prove to be effective with an early 2nd half equalizer goal.
Back in the game Trevor did not let up, he hit a 3-piece pass that led to a beautiful trick shot by Rooney to come from behind and lead 2-1. Trevor seemed to get too aggressive despite his coaches’ warning’s and attempted to increase his goal differential. This would prove to be a mistake as this resulted in a counterattack and a late equalizer goal to end the match 2-2.
The next match would see a familiar match-up, Trevor vs Guilermo. This would be the 3rd time they would meet, each prior match-up ending in a draw. Guilermo came into the match-up with a L, while Trevor had to settle for a draw. Both players looked to improve their odds of qualifying to the knockout stage by winning this match-up. Trevor took an early commanding 2-nil lead going into the 2nd half. The shot opportunities seemed effortless as Guilermo’s defense was struggling to find an answer to Trevor’s high octane play. Trevor would continue to hammer away and go up another goal for a 3-nil lead. Trevor would put the nail in the coffin with his 4th and final goal, a beautiful open cross from Arriola to Rodriguez who would place an uncontested header straight through the arms of Hamid to end the game 4-0.
Trevor would go into his 3rd and final match-up with 1-1-0 record. A win here would cement him as the #1 seed in his group. But his next match-up would prove to be one of his most difficult matches ever. Unaware to him, Trevor would be facing Orlando Pirates pro FIFA player Mohamed Diop. The South African pro was at one point was ranked top 5 in the world in FUT Champions Weekend league, an extremely difficult feat.
Right out the gate the match was tight, both players pressing heavy on the touch and finding lanes for interceptions. Both players defended with great efficiency and left little room for high percentage shots. But the stalemate would be broken when Trevor slipped it through Mohamed’s line for quick box shot from Acosta. That score prompted Mohamed to change up his tactics and player positioning. With these new changes Mohamed rebounded with a goal of his own with a beautiful cut from the left corner to pass it for a box score with Rooney.
Once again, the defense held both players at bay, until Trevor hit a banger straight down the line from outside the box for the score. Trevor now leads 2-1 and has the momentum on his side. Mohamed seemed to struggle on converting the chances he had, while Trevor kept the pressure on. Mohamed would indeed feel the pressure as Trevor scored his 3rd goal of the game to take the lead to 3-1. But Mohamed seemed to be unfazed and kept pushing through the defense, finally getting behind the coverage and scoring his second goal to take the match to 3-2.
Trevor’s high-octane play-style seemed to be the cause of the goal concession. His Coach tugged on his coattails to remind him that he needed to switch to a defense heavy style, as he was already leading. Trevor quickly changed to a defensive coverage by keeping the ball in the back field and taking his time. Mohamed quickly adapted to this change which resulted in a interception and counterattack. Trying to recover from his error, Trevor tried to keep pace with Mohamed as he ran the distance on the far wing. With quick skill moves he was able dribble pass the defender to get it into the far box but was pressured by Jara. Seemingly in the clear Trevor made an egregious error. To ensure Mohamed could not recover possession he slid tackled in the box. In doing so he conceded a penalty.
With the score at 3-2 in Trevor’s favor, this penalty could easily be the game's deciding factor. Seemingly with a tiebreaker in his grasps, Rooney lines up for the penalty. With the crowd holding their breathe in this pivotal match, Mohamed went for the kill. He kicks it to the far-left post, Trevor miss calculated and went right! But the ball beamed off the left post back into play which Trevor quickly cleared.
With only minutes left in play, Mohamed did not have much time to level the score. And with Trevor parking the bus, time would run out with Trevor taking the 3-2 win. With this win Trevor cemented the top spot in his group and qualification into the next round. Being at the top of their brackets, Trevor, Didi, and Abdullah, received bye’s which sealed their positions in the quarter finals. With the herd thinning out only a few remained. Top talents Like Andy Palma and Adam Benhayoun, veterans in the community had already been eliminated from the tournament. The new contenders came to play and play hard.
With the round of 16 concluded, the quarter finals could finally begin. Fate would have it that Trevor and Mohamed would meet again in the quarter finals. Mohamed coming off a do or die match against Guilermo, was looking to get payback. Right out the gate Mohamed put the pressure on scoring 2 early goals, putting Trevor in the hard position of catch up. With Trevor running out of time and his opportunities dwindling, he knew he had to make something happen. After the second concession Trevor changed his tactics to an all-out attack with continuous pressure. This tactic is very high risk because it can leave the defense open to a counterattack if possession is lost, possibly creating a larger deficit. But with little time, he had little choice.
This aggressive play resulted in a beautiful finesse shot by Acosta to bring the score to 2-1. There was still light at the end of the tunnel for Trevor, another carefully crafted play and Trevor could easily tie the score 2-2 taking the match to extra time. However, Mohamed’s lock down defense would be too much, time would expire before he would get the chance to equalize.
The semi-finals would pair Mohamed vs Abdullah and Elder vs Coke & Rice. Both games were full of drama and highlights but in a surprising twist both games had a huge upset! Coke & Rice, an unknown newcomer, seemed to have luck on his side as everything seemed to go his way, eventually beating Elder. Mohamed and Abdullah’s match were tightly contested but Mohamed’s meticulous and skillful play landed him the win.
Finally, the Pier de resistance, the finals of the last DC United qualifiers. Coke & Rice, a newcomer looking to win his first ever DC United tournament vs Mohamed the young assassin who literally came out of nowhere. The match kicks off with Mohamed taking an early 1-0 lead. But the lead wouldn’t last long as Coke & Rice lucky antics gifted him a weak foot outside box score by Rooney. Unfazed by the equalizer, Mohamed continued to dissect Coke & Rice’s defense, making Coke continuously play catch up. This would prove too much for Coke as Mohamed secured his win with a late box score from Acosta.
Mohamed the secret pro came in and dominated almost all his competitors. His impressive skill and cool demeanor landed him the title of Champion and qualification to the DC United Co-op tournament. All the contestants showed great skill, sportsmanship, and composure under pressure.
DC United’s tournaments continue to be a great way for the FIFA and soccer communities to come together, enjoy, and support our local team and community. DC United is paving the way for community and fan engagement in the eMLS through these local events. Congratulations to Mohamed! We look forward to next year’s qualifiers!
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