ExtraTime Radio Podcast
LISTEN: Get ready for a heaping helping of MLS on Friday and Saturday, leaving you free to hunt for eggs or do absolutely nothing on Sunday. Matt and Andrew round up everything going on around the league, then Dave files a report from the GA Cup in Frisco, where the next crop of Homegrown stars are on display. As always, listeners get a little wacky on the Hot-Take Hotline. Subscribe so you don't miss a show!
After winning all three of their group stage matches, NYCFC faced off against the San Jose Earthquakes in one Premier Division semifinal, winning 2-0 in a dominating second-half performance. They will face Mexican side Tigres UANL in the final on Saturday (6:30 pm ET on MLSsoccer.com), after the Monterrey-based club beat the Philadelphia Union 2-0 in the other semifinal.
NYCFC and San Jose played an even first half, aside from a NYCFC penalty kick taken by Sal Rasizzi that was saved by Quakes goalkeeper Victor Juarez.
But NYCFC went on to create much better chances in the second half. Joseph Scally assisted on the first goal in the 45th minute, as he found Will Sands on the far post with a cross. Sands fired his shot off the near post, and the ball trickled in to give NYCFC the lead.
They increased their lead in the 63rd minute off a Giovanni Reyna corner kick that found the head of Colman Kim, and NYCFC’s No. 8 made no mistake, slotting the free header into the back of the net. You can watch both goals below.
NYCFC's standout performances at this year's GA Cup have been led by the strong play of defensive midfielder Justin Haak and their backline. Reyna, Sands and Briscoe have provided just enough going forward, and they will look to continue that trend against Tigres on Saturday.
Red Bulls fall in PK shootout
The New York Red Bulls came into their semifinal match against Flamengo in the Champions Division as underdogs. They advanced to the semis in miraculous fashion and were facing a Flamengo side already proven to be one of the strongest teams in the tournament.
The Brazilians came out on the attack and scored 14 minutes in off a corner kick that was finished off by center back Marquinhos. Flamengo continued to dominate proceedings, but the Red Bulls found their equalizer off of a long clearance in the 27th minute. New York Red Bulls II player Ben Mines ran onto a ball in his own half with no defenders in front him, outran the Flamengo defense, rounded the goalkeeper and finished.
The second half was much better for the Red Bulls, as they had the better chances even without possessing much of the ball. Both Nick Schimbeno and substitute striker Scotty Taylor had clear chances that they were unable to finish.
After the conclusion of the 70 minutes of regulation and 10 minutes of extra time, the game was decided by a penalty-kick shootout, won by Flamengo, 3-2. Flamengo's goalkeeper made three saves, stopping John Murphy, Taylor and Mines. The win ensured Flamengo's place in the Champions Division final against River Plate on Saturday.
Wilmer Cabrera Jr. of the Houston Dynamo (2 goals) and Efrain Alvarez of the LA Galaxy (1 goal, 2 assists) had been two of the better attacking players deployed by MLS sides at the Generation adidas Cup entering Thursday’s games, and they continued their strong play on Thursday.
Cabrera Jr. scored two for the Dynamo in a 3-1 win against Monterrey, while Alvarez chipped the ‘keeper twice in the Galaxy’s 3-2 loss against Estudiantes de la Plata. The Galaxy had been leading Estudiantes 2-1 before two set-piece goals gave the Argentine side the victory.
The auxiliary fields of the the Toyota Stadium Soccer Complex were abuzz with youthful exuberance as the opening matches of the Under-12 division of the Generation adidas Cup kicked off Thursday morning.
Seventeen current MLS sides, two clubs from La Liga (Malaga and Villarreal) and 2018 MLS expansion team LAFC are all fielding squads in this year’s U-12 tournament, which differs from the U-17 format in a couple of important ways. Namely, games feature seven players per team and are comprised of two 15-minute halves. Combined with a more compact field and smaller goal frames, this format provides the U-12 players with plenty of on-the-ball action and fosters a more fluid style of play than when teams in this age range play on full-sized fields with 11 players per side.
LAFC won both of their games on Thursday, with the second half of the group stage set to take place Friday and the playoffs on Saturday.