The semifinals for eMLS League Series Two presented by Coca Cola are now set coming off a packed day of action on the virtual pitch in Saturday's quarterfinals. The top eight competitors from League Series Two qualifying faced off, with plenty of goals, some dominant performances and one heart-pounding dramatic finish.
It was top seed xbLeU from Austin FC who took part in the most exciting match of the day as he tried to stave off a furious upset attempt from San Jose rookie BENR. D.C. United rep KingJCO and FC Dallas' AlanAvi each put in standout performances in their matchups. Meanwhile, the tournament favorite Didychrislito of NYCFC showed why he's one of the top competitors on the circuit at the moment with his surprisingly comprehensive dispatching of last year's League Series One and Two champ in FC Cincinnati's Fiddle.
eMLS League Series Two continues on Sunday at 3 pm ET and can be streamed on the official MLS Twitch, Twitter, Facebook and YouTube pages, as well as MLSsoccer.com and the free MLS app. Fans can also find updated results and standings on MLSsoccer.com.
Check out the updated bracket below and your full recap of all of Saturday's quarterfinals action.
xbLeU (Austin FC) 6, BENR 5 (San Jose Earthquakes)
Coming in as the heavy underdog against the top seed, BENR had nothing to lose and he played like it, putting in a heroic defensive effort in the first leg to improbably hold the clean sheet despite a flurry of chances from his Austin counterpart. A dramatic goal in the 89th minute gave the San Jose Earthquakes man a tenuous but well-earned 1-0 lead headed into Leg 2.
Leg 2 was a frantic, back-and-forth contest as BENR kept on the pressure in pursuit of the upset by bagging two first-half goals to extend his aggregate lead to 3-0 before xbLeU finally broke through with his first goal of the series just before the half-hour mark. The Austin FC rep then put himself right back in contention with his second goal just five minutes later.
BENR would take a 4-3 aggregate lead into the second half, which he would hold until the 70th minute, when xbLeU found the dramatic equalizer to level the aggregate at 4-4, only to see BENR snatch the lead back with a 76th-minute rocket finish. But xbLeU would ensure there would be no upset, scoring the game's final goal in second-half stoppage time to complete the dramatic comeback and send the top seed through to the semifinals with a 6-5 aggregate victory.
KingCJO (D.C. United) 5, Kid M3mito 3 (Chicago Fire FC)
The next quarterfinal matchup was less of a heart-pounder as D.C. United rep KingCJO bagged two early goals and never looked back in his bout with Chicago's Kid M3mito. The Chicago man made things interesting with a first-half penalty kick that cut the deficit to 2-1, but KingCJO added a third in second-half stoppage time to take a 3-1 lead into Leg 2.
KingCJO added two more quick strikes to start the second leg, giving him a 5-1 lead on aggregate. Kid M3mito didn't go down without a fight, scoring a pair of goals to make it 5-3, the last of which came just three minutes from the final whistle. In the end, there wasn't enough time on the clock for him to complete a comeback and KingCJO would advance.
AlanAvi (FC Dallas) 4, Maloney (Orlando City) 0
After BENR's heartbreaking near-miss, Orlando City rookie Maloney had an opportunity for what would have been the day's biggest upset if he could best a top-tier competitor in AlanAvi. It wasn't to be, though, as the FC Dallas man jumped out to an early lead he would never relinquish, starting with a pair of goals in the first half of Leg 1 and another in the second to give him a comfortable 3-0 advantage ahead of Leg 2.
The proceedings were more defensive in the second leg, but AlanAvi put in a professional performance to keep Maloney off the scoresheet and add another to his total to seal off the 4-0 aggregate final and a trip to the semifinals with the commanding victory.
Didychrislito (New York City FC) 7, FCC Fiddle (FC Cincinnati) 2
In the heavyweight matchup of the day between the League Series One champ in Didychrislito and last year's LS1 and LS2 winner in Fiddle, it was Didychrislito who put in arguably the most dominant performance of the day. The NYCFC rep started it off by drawing first blood with the opening goal inside the first 20 minutes and then added another five minutes from the halftime whistle to set himself on his way once again as he continues his torrid run of form.
Fiddle would get one in the second half, but Didychrislito managed to strike for another to stake himself to a 3-1 aggregate lead heading into the second leg. Didychrislito continued his dominance in Leg 2, putting up three more goals to extend the aggregate lead to a 6-1 scoreline that would be too much for Fiddle to overcome, setting up a huge clash with xbLeU on Sunday, as the contest eventually ended 7-2.