After two thrilling rounds including penalty shootouts, the New York Red Bulls U-15s fell to Sacramento Republic FC 3-0 behind a hat trick from Omar Marquez in Tuesday morning's MLS Next Cup playoffs quarterfinal in Frisco, Texas.
Against the run of play, Sacramento took the lead 11 minutes in through the first of Marquez's trio of goals. A cross from deep by Jackson Martin evaded both NYRB center backs, with Marquez lurking behind to catch the ball on the half-volley.
Sacramento's Sawyer Turiace almost had the goal of the tournament with a rocket from distance in the 19th minute, catching Aidan Stokes off his line. The crossbar came to the Red Bulls' rescue leaving Martin a seemingly easy tap-in that bounced at an awkward height as his volley cleared the bar.
While New York wasn't able to make it count with the keeper off the line, Marquez was able to do just that in doubling the lead on the half hour. Stokes ran out of the box, mishitting a clearance that Marquez took down before driving low from 30 yards out.
NYRB pushed looking to get back into the game after halftime, leading to a breakaway that saw Martin come agonizingly close yet again. This time Stokes came off his line to clear a loose ball that the Sac Republic forward hit first time from distance, but again the crossbar came into play.
Marquez gave a class on clinical finishing against a Red Bulls team that consistently put the ball in great positions without converting that into clear chances. Luis Gomez Garcia ran on to a long ball over the top in the New York box eight minutes from the end. Marquez raced on to a neat heel flick, and his deflected shot carried just beyond Stokes' reach for the hat-trick and a place in the semifinals.
Sporting Kansas City 1, LA Galaxy 4
After scoring five in the opening round and three in the Round of 16, the Galaxy U-15s split the difference with a four-goal outing in the quarterfinals.
Ruben Ramos Jr. scored for the third consecutive game with his 4th-minute opener.
Harbor Miller scored either side of the half with Dylan Vanney, one of LA Head Coach Greg Vanney's twin sons scoring right after the break.
Sporting KC did pull a goal back a minute from the end through Angel Franco.
Austin FC 1, Inter Miami CF 2
The Texans got off to a blistering start as 13-year-old Abner Zuniga scored from long range in the 4th minute.
Daniel Pinter brought Miami back into the game in the 17th minute, before Victor Fung gave Inter Miami the lead shortly after the break.
Austin's comeback took a knock as Joah-Mikel Reyna, brother of USMNT star Gio, received a second booking for dissent.
Chicago Fire 0, Real Salt Lake 1
Chicago came into the quarterfinals on the back of two clean sheets, while Real Salt Lake had conceded in both previous rounds. Those points would both change as Real Salt Lake advanced in a narrow 1-0 result.
Zavier Gozo gave RSL the win three minutes from time as the reigning champions of the Under-15 bracket keep up their defense.
Despite the quarterfinals defeat, Chicago did lay claim to one of the most impressive highlights of the event courtesy of an overhead golazo from U-15er Leo Orejarena in a showcase match.
Atlanta United 1, St. Louis City SC 2
After going a goal down in both of their previous rounds, St. Louis City SC took the lead close to half time through Sam Leonard.
Michael Howard got Atlanta back in the game shortly after the hour but substitute Landon Weber came up big for St. Lou with a stoppage time winner.
DC United 3 (5), Cedar Stars Academy 3 (3)
DC United set up a semi final with St. Louis by virtue of a second consecutive penalty shootout. Gavin Turner gave United the early lead in the 11th minute before fireworks in the last 20.
Mateo DePinho levelled in the 63rd minute to start a sequence of three goals in ten minutes. DC retook the lead through Ignacio Alem before Henry Weston restored parity.
Cedar Stars Academy almost snatched the win after William Altirs gave his side the lead in the 83rd minute, only for Alem to grab another goal two minutes later to push the game towards penalty kicks.
Jack Brierley would miss the shootout for CSA after seeing red in added time, as DC United converted all five kicks from the spot to make the final four.
Sockers FC 0, Strikers FC 3
Strikers FC were listed as one of the favorites early on and a third straight shutout win only served to show those credentials.
Goals from Gavin Rivas, Matteo Salcedo, and Isaac Zamora eased Strikers into the semifinals.
Weston FC 1, De Anza Force 2
All three goals came in time added on as De Anza Force made their way to the MLS NEXT Cup playoffs semifinal.
Bar Fisher gave Weston FC the lead in first half stoppage time, heading home after a magnificent run and shot from Roka Tsunehara came down off the crossbar. The Floridians couldn't take the lead into the break as Carlos Ramunno equalized just 13 seconds after the restart.
Tsunehara would get his goal for De Anza Force, winning a penalty after the 90 minutes and converting the spot kick.