FRISCO, Texas – As Ihab "i9ibbs" Abualneel reflected on the eMLS Series Two tournament in Portland, he put forth plenty of optimism, despite finishing in 19th place.
“I honestly feel like I played such good FIFA while I was in Portland,” Abualneel said in a Twitter statement. “My record might not show it, but I had about four games where they could have easily been wins and I would’ve potentially made the live event.”
While his final position again fell short of expectations, Abualneel feels he took a big step forward, compared to his first eMLS event in Philadelphia last month.
“Compared to Philadelphia, I feel like I was a completely different player,” he said. “The confidence is growing, and I know that the results will come.”
FC Cincinnati’s “Fiddle” claimed the top prize once again, winning back-to-back titles in impressive fashion. He defeated Los Angeles FC’s “RemiMartinn” on penalties in the semis and followed suit with a 2-0 win over Atlanta United’s Paulo Neto, who topped the group stage standings, in the final.
Fiddle could soon become eMLS’ second consecutive treble winner, should he claim the top prize again next month. For Abualneel, the motivation to lift himself up to that grand stage is greater than ever.
“I will continue grinding [and] I will continue putting my all for the club I love,” he said. “The goal remains the same, and that is to bring home a trophy for FC Dallas.”
The eMLS Cup takes place on Mar. 21 in Austin, Texas. The top 11 players in the overall standings are already qualified, while those in the bottom half will compete for the 12th and final place in the cup during the “Last Chance Bracket”.
“I just have to be consistent with it,” Abualneel said. “Hopefully in Austin next month, I’ll be able to be at the live event.”