By Ridge Mahoney
Houston 2, Chivas USA 0. (agg: 3-2)
Houston scored twice after forward Francisco Palencia was sent off by
referee Michael Kennedy for two quickly incurred cards in a frenzied,
fiercely fought match.
The Dynamo, which had pinned Chivas USA in its own third for much of the game,
increased its pressure. Brad Davis tied the series in the 64th minute on a
penalty kick called when defender Tim Regan elbowed Dwyane DeRosario
in the back as they went for a cross.
Davis set up the winner by bending a cross around Jesse Marsch to the far
post, where Eddie Robinson headed it back into the middle and Brian Ching
outjumped several players, including a late-arriving Brad Guzan, to nod
the ball over the line from three yards out to trigger a racous celebration.
FC Dallas 2, Colorado 3 (agg, 4-4. Rapids win 5-4 on penalties)
For the second straight year, Colorado eliminated FC Dallas in the quarterfinals
and deprived it of the chance to play in MLS Cup as host.
Dallas gave up a 2-1 edge compiled on the road,
and simply couldn't keep the game safe despite taking a 3-1 aggregate lead on a Carlos Ruiz goal and leading 4-3 early in overtime through a Clarence Goodson header.
Midfield turnovers and soft defending in the air were punished ruthlessly by the Rapids, for which Nicolas Hernandez scored twice from close range and Clint Mathis blasted home a 25-yarder with six minutes left in overtime that is one of the most dramatic, and most spectacular, playoff goals in league history.
FC Dallas played a man down from the 29th minute on because of Chris Gbandi's ejection for serious foul
New England 2, Chicago 1 (agg, 2-2. Revs win 4-2 on penalties)
Taylor Twellman scored
just before halftime to cut Chicago's aggregate lead in half. Nate Jaqua had put a away a near-post cross from Justin Mapp in the 18th minute for a 2-0 Fire aggregate lead.
Twellman nailed home a low ball Joey Franchino had centered from the byline. The winner came in the 58th minute when Twellman headed a Jay Heaps cross into the goalmouth and Steve Ralston laid it off for Franchino; he shot, Chris Armas blocked it, and Pat Noonan - who had come on as a sub in his first appearance since Sept. 9 - stabbed it into the net.
In penalty kicks, Rev keeper Matt Reis snuffed Thiago's opener, scored one himself and also saved from Ivan Guerrero.
D.C. United 1, New York Red Bulls 1. (agg: 2-1).
United's expected win in the series- it finished 16 points ahead of New York in the Eastern Conference standings - was anything but routine.
The Red Bulls pressed and harassed the shaky United back three and overran its midfield for much the match while outshooting D.C., 13-6. But after tying the aggregate, 1-1, they suffered a disastrous defensive lapse that set the stage once again for match-winner Christian Gomez.
Amado Guevara's cross
was smartly snapped into the net via the head of Josimer Altidore in the
Gomez struck the winner after Josh Gros, out on the right flank, used his
left foot to curl the ball back post, where Bobby Boswell threw himself
to the ground to let it reach the unmarked Argentine. Gomez's shot from a sharp angle caromed off keeper Jon Conway's glove and between him and the near
D.C. United vs. New England (Sunday, 4 pm ET, ESPN2).
Houston vs. Colorado (Sunday, 7 pm ET, Fox Soccer Channel, HDNet).
for summaries of the second-leg, quarterfinal games.