Sporting Kansas City backed up their big talk and threw down the gauntlet in the second episode of the eMLS Tournament Special presented by Coca-Cola and PlayStation, winning both of their series in the FIFA 20 tournament by multiple goals and conceding none as they romped to the semifinals.
Represented by Wan Kuzain — a promising midfielder and no slouch on the sticks either— and eMLS pro Alekzandur, SKC comfortably dispatched teams from both Minnesota United and D.C. United on their way to a quarterfinal win. D.C. and USMNT winger Paul Arriola made a good go of it, winning a hard-fought contest to lift United past the New England Revolution and gamely hanging with Kuzain for much of the final, but ultimately Sporting's quality proved too much for any of the challengers.
The evening's result sets up an incredibly enticing semifinal on May 17 between SKC and LAFC, who won a virtual El Trafico on route to a dominant quarterfinal victory in the first episode . With a similarly dominant MLS player in Adama Diomande and one of eMLS's bright new stars in RemiMartinn, LAFC should present this weekend's winners their stiffest test yet when they reconvene in three weeks' time (full schedule).
In case you missed the first episode, the teams are represented by one of their players and their eMLS professional in two-legged aggregate series of FIFA 20 as part of a five-week, 16-team tournament to support hunger relief during the COVID-19 pandemic. Here's a series-by-series recap of how Episode 2 went down:
Sporting KC 6, Minnesota 0
Wan Kuzain (SKC) 4, Tyler Miller (MIN) 0: Wan Kuzain's decade plus as a devoted FIFA 20 player showed why he might be one of the best MLS players in the field with a comprehensive win over his Minnesota United counterpart. He quickly showed flashes of his FIFA skill, though his first goal came off a fairly routine turnover in transition, as he took it straight back down for a middle for an opening goal that would stand for a 1-0 lead at the half.
There was plenty of chatter between the two players throughout the game and into the half, but on the SKC man backed it up in the second half as Wan Kuzain struck twice with some skillful moves on the counter. The young Malaysian saved his best for last, netting a stunning fourth goal that even led Miller to sub himself out after shipping yet another goal:
Alekzandur (SKC) 2, Jay Adams (MIN) 0: Alekzandur didn't need much help after Wan Kuzain staked him and SKC to a four-goal lead in the first leg, but ended up getting off to a very similar start, scoring with Gerso early on in the 28th minute. Alekzandur then saved his best for the second half, netting the second after a mesmerizing run down the right flank to put the icing on a dominant Sporting performance over two legs.
D.C. United 2, New England 1
Paul Arriola (DC) 2, Diego Fagundez (NE) 1: The first half between these two experienced MLSers didn't really heat up until the very end when Fagundez got a great opportunity to open the scoring with a 37th minute-penalty, only to see Arriola guess right with the 'keeper to deny him. Arriola then capitalized on the momentum to take the lead on the stroke of halftime after Matt Turner appeared to spill a ball at the far post.
It was a similarly tight opening to the second half, with few quality chances between the two teams until Arriola found the back of the net with Ola Kamara in the 74th minute to finish off a crisp move. It proved to be a potentially crucial goal, as Fagundez scored with himself late on to full one back and give the Revs a fighting chance on the eMLS end.
KingCJ0 (DC) 0, JKO (NE) 0: That second from the first leg indeed proved to be crucial for D.C., as there was nothing to separate the two eMLS competitors. JKO and the Revs looked closer to finding the equalizing goal, including a tough miss from close range early in the first half that proved to be their best chance at leveling the series.
Sporting KC 5, D.C. United 0
Wan Kuzain (SKC) 2, Paul Arriola (DC) 0: Kuzain kept SKC's momentum from the first series going going with a dominant performance to open the final episode of the night. He scored at almost the exact same time he did in his opener, the 23rd minute, and probably could have had two more in the first half.
Arriola was able to stem the tide for most of the second half, getting into dangerous attacking positions on a number of occasions but not generating any serious threats on goal. Ultimately, Kuzain made him pay when he coolly threaded and finished a through ball in the 90th minute to hand a two-goal cushion to Alekzandur with a berth in the final episode on the line.
Alekzandur (SKC) 3, KingCJ0 (DC) 0: Alekzandur wasn't about to let his teammate to all the heavy lifting in this tournament and kept Sporting's streak of first-half goals going with a beautiful one-time finish courtesy of Alan Pulido.
Alekzandur looked to be in cruise control for much of the second half, continuing to generate the better chances as he whittled away the remaining time. He then iced the series with a 78th-minute finish courtesy of some fancy footwork from Johnny Russell, before adding one last goal in the 90th to clinch SKC's semifinal berth against LAFC on May 17.
The eMLS Tournament Special presented by Coca-Cola in PlayStation is a five-episode, 16-team tournament featuring MLS players and eMLS pros competing for their teams in support of hunger relief during the COVID-19 pandemic. Episodes air April 19–May 17 at 7 pm ET on FS1 and FOX Deportes, plus TSN for viewers in Canada.