By Ridge Mahoney
Two home teams held serve and two didn't in the first leg of the MLS conference semifinals, and the two that didn't need monumental efforts to overturn their series next
Yet the performances of Colorado, a 2-1 loser to FC Dallas, and the New York Red Bulls, toppled 1-0 by D.C. United, had little in common other than the expected outcomes of the
No. 4 seeds failing to beat the No.1 seeds in their home legs.
The matchups of the No. 2 and No. 3 seeds, on the other hand, were just about as tight and hard-fought as anticipated. New
England, beaten 1-0 in Chicago, and Houston, nicked 2-1 by Chivas USA, have realistic hopes of reversing those deficits in the return matches. HIGH DRAMA AT HOME DEPOT.
with D.C., Houston and Chivas USA are regarded as the most skillful teams in MLS, and they generated some magical moments and not a few controversial ones in Chivas USA's 2-1 win. Brad
saved a Dwayne DeRosario
penalty kick that would have tied the match 2-2 with five minutes to play; that PK was questionable, but perhaps it was a make up for a flying Guzan challenge
on Brian Ching
that was ignored by referee Jorge Gonzalez
Ching had narrowed the deficit to 2-1 by stinging home a low Brian Mullan with 15 minutes left. A darting header by
gave substitute Sacha Kljestan
an assist with his first touch, a swerving free kick that Palencia nailed just inside the near post for the 2-0 lead.A nicely curled
free kick by Ante Razov
as the first half was about to expire completely befuddled Houston keeper Pat Onstad
. FIRED UP.
New England held a 12-8 edge in shots yet the
Fire's Chris Rolfe
and Andy Herron
buzzed the Revs' goal often in the Fire's 1-0 win.
The Revs could rightly claim luck didn't go their way. Clint Dempsey
inadvertently blocked a Jay Heaps
header from a fine Ralston cross, and later Dempsey hobbled off with a sprained ankle incurred while shooting just wide as C.J. Brown
A moment of brilliant interplay between Christian Gomez
and Jaime Moreno
produced the only goal at the Meadowlands, but the sequence was set up by a typical
piece of gritty work that is a staple of United's game yet often gets overlooked. Ben Olsen
dug the ball out of a tangle, got it under control, and stroked it to Gomez, whose
give-and-go with Moreno sent him clear to tap a shot into the Red Bull net with 13 minutes to play for D.C. United's 1-0 win. Alecko Eskandarian
pierced the Red Bulls' back line several times
and his mobility and aggressiveness opened up space for his teammates to exploit. BIG 'D' FOR DARIO.
The Rapids dynamic frontline duo of Nicolas Hernandez
ruthlessly exposed the Dallas defensive deficiencies as they outshot their foe 17-6, but keeper Dario Sala
stonewalled Colorado enough times that the other striking partnership
-- Carlos Ruiz
and Abe Thompson
, with a goal apiece - carried Western Conference champion Dallas to its 2-1 victory at Invesco Field. Click here
for more on the MLS quarterfinal, first-leg games.
quarterfinal lineups, scorers, attendance, cards, click here.