CHICAGO (March 11, 2019) – The U.S. Soccer Federation is entering the competitive gaming space by selecting the first U.S. eNational Team, which will begin play at the inaugural FIFA eNations Cup 2019 April 13-14 in London, England.
“As we work toward our mission of making soccer the preeminent sport in the U.S. we see competitive gaming as an opportunity to engage fans while exposing U.S. Soccer to a growing and connected soccer audience," said U.S. Soccer Chief Commercial & Strategy Officer Jay Berhalter. “The U.S. Soccer eNational Team will provide a unique platform for the best players in our country to represent the United States in a global competition.”
In its inaugural year, the FIFA eNations Cup is the premier esports competition for FIFA member associations. Teams representing FIFA’s six regional confederations will converge in London next month. The USA joins a tournament field, which includes Argentina, Australia, China PR, Denmark, England, Finland, France, Mexico, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, South Africa, Spain and Sweden.
The first members of the U.S. eNational Team will be determined via the 2019 eMLS Cup, with the winner and runner-up qualifying to represent the U.S. at April’s eNations Cup 2019. Should either position be occupied by a player that is ineligible to represent the U.S., the next highest eligible player based on playoff results will be selected. eMLS Cup takes place on March 30 in Boston.
Currently in its second season, eMLS is comprised of 22 Major League Soccer clubs, with one player representing each club. The league pits the best FIFA 19 players from the U.S. and Canada against each other over a series of competitions. eMLS Cup is the final competition to determine the eMLS champion.
With the FIFA eNations Cup set to become an annual FIFA event, U.S. Soccer will also explore additional esports programming in the future in conjunction with FIFA, other Member Associations, and eMLS.