LONDON - Paulo Neto and Vini Leiva have qualified to the Championship Round of the FIFA Global Series (FGS) Team of the Season Cup (TOTS), after two convincing wins against British team Excel eSports and Argentinian team Krü eSports, on Saturday in London.
Not only did they win both matches, but they didn't let any goals in, which sends them to the semifinals on Sunday with a huge confidence boost.
Upper Bracket Round 1 - Round of 16
After their performance on Day 1, where Atlanta United won two matches and lost one on penalty shootouts in Group C, the Brazilian duo were seeded in the Upper Bracket, where the top 16 teams of the competitions are fighting it out to win the title. Excel came to the match as the favorites, having won their two encounters by 3-0 and 5-3, finishing at the top of Group D, on Friday.
It was a defensive showcase, as both teams heavily showed they could hold each other in the back. The only definitive moment was an own goal by Excel in the 79th minute of the first leg, after a cross from the left.
The lone goal was enough for ATL UTD to win on aggregate and advance to the Upper Bracket Round 2, or the Quarterfinals. Excel eSports did not get eliminated from the competition, however, as their lost against ATL UTD meant they were moved from the Upper Bracket to the Lower Bracket, where they had one more chance to continue in the tournament where they beat Dutch team AFC Ajax, 3-2.
Upper Bracket Round 2 - Quarterfinals
In the Upper Bracket Round 2, Atlanta United faced Krü eSports, the team founded by former Argentinian forward Sergio "Kun" Agüero. Krü beat fellow MLS team CF Montréal 5-2 in the previous round to advance.
The first one of the two legs was just as controlled as the match-up against Excel, with both teams defending their goal with their teeth, to the point that Paulo and Vini were grinding theirs as the game progressed. A scoreless draw gave some tranquility to the ATL UTD camp as they looked to regroup for the second and deciding leg.
At the 22nd minute, Krü had the biggest chance of the match when a through ball found one of their forwards who chipped Atlanta United's goalkeeper but a 5-Stripes defender managed to clear the ball magically off the line with a wonderful bicycle kick. That save proved not only worthy of a FIFA defensive highlight package but was the trigger that broke the deadlock, as Atlanta United did not give up the ball and scored off a beautiful header in the center of the box.
ATL UTD gained confidence and started to dominate the action on the virtual pitch while managing to score a second goal 12 minutes later, with a fantastic shot from just outside the box which bounced off the bar and fell through the net. But Atlanta United did not stop there, despite the constant attacks by Krü.
In the 56th minute, an Atlanta United player dribbled in the middle of the box and danced around a Krü defender to send the ball in for a third and definite goal. It was such a majestic show of FIFA mastery that Vini Leiva dubbed the move a "Paulo Neto special" after the match, when the Brazilians were congratulated by other fellow gamers.
The 3-0 aggregate score meant Atlanta advances to the Upper Round semifinals to be played on Sunday, where they will face Mkers Sweden. The Swedish team is the one that has scored the most goals in the entire competition between Friday and Saturday, with a whopping 18 goals in four matches.
The match is scheduled to begin at 2 pm local time (9 am ET).