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MLS is Back Tournament: Semifinal Matchups Set

03 de Agosto de 2020 a las 20:10

Photo courtesy of MLS Soccer Advanced Media
TORONTO. - The MLS is Back Tournament once again provided some exciting moments in the quarterfinals and now the semifinal matchups are set. When the tournament began, teams like LAFC, Seattle Sounders, Atlanta United, and Toronto FC were in the discussion as being teams that viewers could expect to make a run in this tournament and even win, however, teams like the Portland Timber, Minnesota United, Philadelphia Union, and hosts Orlando City SC pulled off upsets and now have an opportunity to secure a spot in the 2021 CONCACAF Champions League.
The hosts Orlando City pulled off probably the biggest upset in the tournament when they eliminated LAFC in penalty kicks to advance to the semifinals. Even without the services of leading goal scorer Carlos Vela, LAFC still possessed the quality and offensive ability to win the tournament.
After Orlando defeated Montreal Impact 1-0 and were matched up with LAFC, it was a known fact that they would be facing a difficult test. Joao Moutinho was the hero for Orlando as he scored the equalizing goal in the 90th minute to force the penalty shootout, where Nani sealed the win with the game clinching penalty to advance.
Orlando will meet Minnesota United in the semifinals. The Loons advanced to the semifinals after a comfortable win over the San Jose Earthquakes. Adrian Heath was able to shut-down the Earthquakes’ attack and did not allow them to utilize coach Matias Almeyda’s gameplan, which has been successful thus far. Minnesota will look to build on their quarterfinals performance when they take on the hosts Orlando and not suffer the same fate as LAFC.
On the other side of the bracket, Philadelphia Union, who had come into the tournament a little under the radar, have really established themselves as a top team not only in the MLS Eastern Conference, but in the MLS as a whole.
The Union were successful against Sporting KC, who needed penalty kicks to eliminate the Vancouver Whitecaps, to advance to the semifinals. Union goalkeeper Andre Blake has come up big for his side and his composure in goal has played an important role in the team’s success. Jim Curtin’s side will look to continue this impressive run when they take on the Portland Timbers in the semifinals.
Portland pulled off an upset of their own in the quarterfinals by defeating NYCFC 3-1. NYCFC had come into the quarterfinals matchup following a victory over Toronto FC, which saw them shut-down the former MLS Cup winners in impressive fashion, and looked like the favourite to advance to the MLS is Back Tournament finals. That was not the case as after scoring the opening goal, Portland regrouped and tied it up before the end of the first half, before scoring two unanswered goals in the second half to secure the win.
Portland’s experience and leadership from veterans Sebastian Blanco and Diego Valeri has been significant in the team’s success in this tournament and they will look to continue that when they take on another top Eastern Conference side in Philadelphia.