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LAFC roll in eMLS Tournament Special opening weekend

It didn’t take long for the eMLS Tournament Special to deliver some drama soccer fans have been missing since MLS began its coronavirus-induced hiatus March 12.

LAFC earned two aggregate victories, one each over the Chicago Fire and the cross-town Los Angeles Galaxy, to grab a spot in the league’s Championship Week semifinals on May 17.

LAFC striker Adama Diomande hammered the Chicago Fire’s Francisco Calvo 4-0 in the first leg of Sunday’s championship round and his eMLS counterpart Martin “RemiMartinn” Oregel topped Enrique “BITW7” Espinosa 2-1 to give LAFC a 6-1 win on aggregate.

In the tournament’s first match Sunday, Chicago Fire FC’s Francisco Calvo scored a golden goal against FC Cincinnati’s Kendall Watson to advance. An extra round was required after two-time eMLS League Series champion Gordon “Fiddle” Thornsberry, playing with FC Cincinnati, scored in the closing seconds of second-half extra time to beat BITW7 2-0 and tie the match 3-3 on aggregate, setting the stage for Calvo’s heroics.

From there, it was all LAFC as they crushed the Galaxy 4-1 on aggregate in a virtual El Trafico in their opener. After Diomande beat the Galaxy’s newest international superstar addition, Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez, 1-0, RemiMartinn crushed reigning eMLS runner-up Giuseppe “Godfather” Guastella 3-1 to advance.

The 16-team tournament features one player from each participating club paired with that team’s eMLS pro playing on FIFA 20. The MLS players will play the first leg with the eMLS stars playing the second, with the winner advancing on aggregate.

The single-elimination tournament will be played remotely and be spread over five weekends. The teams are divided into four, four-team quadrants, with one team emerging from a quadrant each weekend.

The four weekend winners will meet May 17 for Championship Week, when the semifinals and finals will be played.

At the conclusion of each weekend, MLS and Fox Sports will make donation on behalf of that weekend’s winner to Feeding America, while MLS will also support Food Banks Canada. Fox has the television rights to the matches and aired Sunday’s matches live on FS1.

2020 eMLS Tournament Special scores / schedule:

Week 1 scores
Chicago Fire FC 3, FC Cincinnati 1
FC Cincinnati 2, Chicago Fire FC 0
Chicago Fire FC 1, FC Cincinnati 0
(Chicago Fire FC advance on golden goal)

LAFC 1, LA Galaxy 0
LAFC 3, LA Galaxy 1
(LAFC advance 4-1 on aggregate)

LAFC 4, Chicago Fire FC 0
LAFC 2, Chicago Fire FC 1
(LAFC advance 6-1 on aggregate)

Week 2 schedule
April 26
Minnesota United FC vs. Sporting Kansas City
D.C. United vs. New England Revolution
* Winners play one another

Week 3 schedule
May 3
New York Red Bulls vs. NYCFC
FC Dallas vs. Houston Dynamo
* Winners play one another

Week 4 schedule
May 10
Vancouver Whitecaps FC vs. Toronto FC
Atlanta United FC vs. Orlando City SC
* Winners play one another

Semifinals & championship
May 17
Qualifiers:
LAFC, TBD, TBD, TBD

–Field Level Media

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