ST. PAUL, Minn. (WCCO) — Imagine being able to play for your favorite Major League Soccer team, and not even needing to leave the couch to do it.
Well, that dream is now a reality in Minnesota. Elias Baca gets paid to play Xbox for Minnesota United.
His journey started as a kid with a love of EA Sports’ FIFA, an internationally popular soccer video game.
“I started playing in 2002, and it was fun to play,” Baca said. “And then, in 2011, FIFA had what’s called an interactive world cup. And I got top 50 in the world.”
Now, Baca plays FIFA professionally, representing Minnesota United.
In January, Major League Soccer launched a new initiative, with every team having their own professional gamers.
It’s called eMLS.
The initiative has a particular focus on American gamers, with the goal of getting the gaming audience to see real soccer games.
There’s three players on Minnesota United’s eMLS team.
Baca is the best. He represented them the very first tournament in early April.
“First day went pretty great, I was actually sitting in third place,” he said. “Second day, I let my guard down. I let the first day get into my head.”
He still made the playoffs, but eventually got knocked out.
“Other than that, I was happy that a lot of people were talking about Minnesota United over there,” he said. “It was pretty awesome that I was able to represent the team at a national level.”
There’s talk of having a weekly season next year, mirroring the real-life league schedule, but that’s still up in the air as of now.
Think of eMLS as a new wave of marketing.
After all, the biggest fans are the ones who grow up playing the game. In this case, that include the video game.
“My goal with this is to get more of the Minnesota gaming community to get more involved in the actual sport,” Baca said.