The Columbus Crew Under-17s haven't taken the easiest path to the semifinals of the MLS NEXT Cup Playoff U-17 bracket, with three consecutive penalty shootouts.
The latest was a shootout victory over Pennsylvanian side FC DELCO in Wednesday's quarterfinals matchup in Frisco, Texas, in a match that saw Columbus reduced to 10 men and give up a 1-0 lead.
Crew took the lead in the 19th minute through Brent Adu-Gyamfi. His partners in attack created the opportunity as Owen Presthus won the ball in midfield before Joshua Bartels found Adu-Gyamfi's run down the right where he finished low across goal.
With the match still 1-0, confusion took over in the 66th minute as Crew 2's Gabriel Cox was shown a second yellow card on a throw-in. The 53rd-minute substitute was deemed to have delayed the game after the ball had been cleared out by a DELCO player.
The Pennsylvania club looked strong in possession, and the man advantage helped Francis Castillo-Orellana get a few good looks down the left side. The equalizer, though, would come from the right side in the 83rd minute. Sebastian Perez-Gasiba made a fantastic run from the right corner of the box, turning challenge after challenge. When a Columbus defender eventually did get the ball away, it fell to the feet of Caden Grabfelder who made no mistake in smashing the ball into the top corner of the goal.
FC DELCO had a golden opportunity in the second minute of stoppage time as Grabfelder found Elias Betancourt in space on the right side of the box. Betancourt's low-driven ball into the six-yard box went behind Reis, who was waiting to tap in past Stas Lapkes.
The drama in the shootout started from the third round as Columbus' Gio DeLibera put his shot over the bar, but Lapkes was able to comfortably get behind Perez-Gasiba's attempt immediately after. As much the hero as Lapkes was, it was the post that clinched the shootout in sudden death as Kaio Reis sent the Crew goalie the wrong way, but hit the ball firmly off the upright.
Austin FC 0, Orlando City SC 2
Orlando City set up a semifinal clash with the Crew on the back of two second-half goals.
Alejandro Granados gave Orlando the lead in the 57th minute before 15-year-old Tahir Reid-Brown sealed the win in stoppage time.
LAFC 1, Chicago Fire FC 0
Tournament favorites LAFC have yet to concede in the MLS NEXT Cup Playoffs. The lone goal from Tyler Bindon in the 72nd minute was enough to send them through to the final four.
Philadelphia Union 4, New York Red Bulls 2
The Union have been one of the under-17 bracket's high-scoring teams, adding another four to the ten scored in the prior two rounds.
Antonios Horozoglou opened the scoring 11 minutes in. The Red Bulls saw highs and lows late in the half as Bento Estrella received a red card two minutes before Ethan Ortiz leveled the score for New York.
Philly made the numbers count in the second half, adding goals through Luciano Sanchez, David Vazquez, and Luke Zielinski. Edward Davis did pull a goal back for RBNY in added time.
Wake FC 1, FC Dallas 4
Nighte Pickering opened the game with a goal in the fourth minute, much as he did in the first-round game with Barca Residency Academy. This time, however, the opposition's response was much quicker as Wake FC's Christopher Copolo equalized in the seventh minute.
The home side benefited from a red card as Alexander Hornada picked up two yellow cards in 18 minutes.
The second half was all Dallas as Tarik Scott doubled the lead in the 65th minute, before late goals by substitutes Jalen Belong and Michael Morales sealed their semifinal fate.
New England Revolution 3, Players Development Academy 2
Isaie Louis brought the game to life with a fantastic turn and shot from outside the area in the 28th minute.
Only eight minutes went by before the Players Development Academy gave a response. Colin Griffith got on the end of a clearance out of the New England backline, playing a one-two before shooting from the edge of the Revs penalty area. Another four minutes and another goal for PDA, as Andrew Araya flashed a free-kick across goal and Daniel IIttycheria headed home.
The Revolution tied the game in the 54th minute after some blinding skill by Malcolm Fry to get into the box before crossing low for Triton Beauvois to crash home at the back post.
Fry would get one of his own 11 minutes later to set up a semifinal with FC Dallas. Jack Panayotou played a spectacular cross-field ball for Fry. After cutting the ball onto his left foot and sending a defender for a ride, Fry curled the ball low around the keeper.
PDA had a big appeal for a penalty turned down ten minutes from time as a Nico Benida cross caught the arm of Dylan Walsh, but the referee felt it was in a natural position.
Tampa Bay United 3, Miami Kendall Rush SC 0
Two goals late in the first half sent Tampa Bay United on to a semifinal.
Daniel Lugo scored in the 42nd minute before Lukas Kamrath added a second in first-half stoppage time. Lugo got his second of the game at the end of the 90.
San Francisco Glens 4, FC DELCO 2
It was a rough day for FC DELCO, getting eliminated from both the U-17 and U-19 brackets.
A 4th-minute opener by Sam Nyenka gave DELCO a bright start, but San Francisco pegged them back in the 22nd minute through Anthony Guzman.
Three goals in 12 minutes put the Glens well on their way in the second half, before Jacob Gier grabbed a late consolation for DELCO.