Atlanta United was named eMLS Team of the Year today as Major League Soccer announced the winners of the 2022 Mark Abbott MLS Club Awards that recognize clubs and individuals driving business, fostering innovation, and delivering value to fans and communities.
Atlanta United took its eMLS team to new heights in 2022, returning top player Paulo Neto who captured his first eMLS Cup title in March. After entering the competition as the fifth seed, Neto defeated players from LAFC, Sporting Kansas City and Toronto FC prior to trouncing DC United’s eMLS players 5-3 in the Final to claim Atlanta’s first esports trophy. Prior to eMLS Cup, Neto produced strong showings in the lead-up competitions League Series 1 and League Series 2, finishing in third and second place, respectively.
Neto earned a direct invite to the EA Sports FIFA 22 Global Series Playoff in London where he finished in the top 32 gamers in the world, granting him a spot in the 2022 FIFAe World Cup. At the World Cup held in Copenhagen, Denmark, Neto finished first in Group A and advanced to the round of 16, where he made it to the quarterfinals before losing to Emre Yilmaz over two legs. Neto finished as one of the top eight FIFA gamers in the world.
Atlanta United also added a second player, Vini Leiva, becoming one of the only MLS clubs to have multiple esports players. Neto and Leiva became the only MLS duo selected as a premier team, granting them automatic qualifications to the FIFA Global Series (FGS) where they competed in the Team of the Season Cup. Neto and Leiva finished in fourth place, achieving the best result of any global football club competing in the FGS. The pair also claimed an FGS Masters Cup prior to their TOTS Cup performance. Vini Leiva was the club's second player for last season, who was later replaced by Young for the 2022-23 global season.
In 2022, Atlanta’s esports team welcomed Perficient, a global digital consultancy, as its first official partner. Perficient supports Atlanta United’s esports program while earning branding on all digital and social content and player-worn apparel.
Beginning this year, the Club Awards have been named in honor of MLS President and Deputy Commissioner Mark Abbott, who at the end of 2022 is leaving the League after an extraordinary run as one of the most influential and respected leaders in the game. In 1993, Abbott was hired as the first executive in the league office – three years before the first game was played. The architect of MLS’ business plan, Abbott played an invaluable leadership role on the business, legal and financial side as the League saw transformational growth. As President and Deputy Commissioner since 2013, Abbott has led all areas of League operations and competition, including product strategy, player relations, strategic planning, and communications.