For the first time, one
conference will provide three members of the final four MLS playoff teams, and might yet supply both MLS Cup finalists. Form held in the East, with both of the higher seeds winning, yet in the
West, neither of the top two survived. Eastern conference champion Columbus defeated No. 4 Kansas City, 2-0, Saturday to complete a 3-1 aggregate win and on Thursday (7:30 p.m. ET ESPN2) hosts the
No. 2 Fire, a 3-0 aggregate winner over No. 3 New England. The Red Bulls, fifth-place finishers in the East, travel to Utah for a Saturday (9:30 p.m. ET, Fox Soccer Channel) showdown with Real
Salt Lake, which won the first playoff series in its history by tying Chivas USA, 2-2, to prevail on aggregate, 3-2. New York stunned Western Conference champion Houston, 3-0, Sunday for a 4-1
series victory. RED BULL REVIVAL.
New York stormed forth from the opening kickoff as if to prove its 1-1 first-leg tie in the Meadowlands was no fluke, and the 30,053
fans in attendance at Robertson Stadium didn't bother them one bit.
Whether because of fatigue or complacency Houston failed to match New York's early intensity, and once Red
Bull weathered a furious assault in the second half leading, 2-0, it duly closed out the match. Dane Richards
scored the first goal and set up the third for John
; in between, a Richards' cross caromed off the arm of midfielder Ricardo Clark
to supply a penalty kick for Juan Pablo Angel
to drive home
the vital second goal.
Rather than revamping his lineup, as he's usually done this season, Coach Juan Carlos Osorio
started the same XI as in the first leg. In
this case, continuity melded with consistent effort prevailed.
In the 25th minute, Richards veered into the middle to reach a through ball from Sinisa Ubiparipovic
that Angel let run for Richards to smash a close-range shot into the top corner. Ten minutes later, Richards raced down the right flank to hit a cross that Clark's flailing arm knocked out of
play. Angel pounded the penalty kick past Pat Onstad
to double the lead.
A few heroic saves by Danny Cepero
and several desperate blocks held off
Houston, which had changed to a 3-5-2 formation at halftime by inserting Corey Ashe
and later brought on Nate Jaqua
and Stuart Holden
to turn up
the pressure. But the one good bounce that could have restored its hopes never came for the Dynamo, and it conceded a third goal when Richards ran free on the right yet again in the 81st minute
and cut a ball back from the byline for Wolyniec to re-direct into the net. REAL DEAL.
The only lower-seeded team to win its home leg maintained that advantage on
the road, and thus Real Salt Lake's fourth game at its brand-new Rio Tinto Stadium is a chance to reach MLS Cup.
Midfielder Javier Morales
wonderful game for Western Conference No. 3 RSL, hitting a near-post cross for a Dema Kovalenko
headed equalizer, and scoring a second goal himself from a Robbie
feed that moved RSL into a two-goal lead that No. 2 Chivas USA couldn't erase.
Chivas USA did tie the aggregate, 1-1, when Sacha Kljestan
converted a penalty kick whistled for a clumsy Morales challenge on Ante Razov
in the 30th minute.
RSL needed just nine minutes to take back the advantage on
Kovalenko's wicked header from a sharp angle, and rode out anxious moments when Kljestan and Razov narrowly missed the target before delivering a crushing blow with 13 minutes left. Findley
controlled a ball near the byline as keeper Zach Thornton
came out, and evaded a tackle to slip a pass to Morales, who touched it past Kljestan and drilled a low shot through the
legs of defender Shavar Thomas
and a yard inside the far post. Justin Braun
made it interesting with seven minutes left on a 18-yard strike that
tore through Nick Rimando
's extended left glove but nothing else tested the keeper as RSL inked its date with history. CREW CALL.
After it had
trailed for nearly 40 minutes in the first leg before equalizing in the second minute of stoppage time to earn a 1-1 tie, Columbus did what home teams should do: score early and push for a second
goal without being careless. Brad Evans
struck in the seventh minute for a 1-0 lead. Midfield linchpin Brian Carroll
released him with a chip over
the back line that Evans coolly lobbed over goalie Kevin Hartman
. Abe Thompson
could have equalized in the 15th minute, but he couldn't control or shoot
's pass first time, and by the time he got to the ball keeper Will Hesmer
had smothered the chance.
limited to substitute duty because of injury, few options were available to spark Kansas City's attack. Michael Kraus
replaced Thompson in the aftermath of a
second Crew goal, scored by a wide-open Robbie Rogers
at the back post in the 58th minute on passes by Alejandro Moreno
and Guillermo Barros
Needing two goals, the Wizards tried to free up Claudio Lopez
with limited success. He whipped a swerving cross that sailed a yard wide of the
post as several teammates crashed the goalmouth in the 83rd minute, and later fired a free kick on frame that Hesmer cradled. GAME SUMMARIES,
Quarterfinal, Second Leg (Nov. 6-9) Nov. 6 in Bridgeview, Ill.
Chicago 3 New England 0. Goals:
Rolfe 47+, Conde (Mapp) 49, Segares (Rolfe) 74.
(Chicago wins 3-0 on aggregate.) Chicago -
Busch, Prideaux, Conde, Soumare, Segares, Rolfe (King, 86), Pause, Thorrington, Mapp (Woolard, 77), Blanco, McBride.
New England -
Reis, Albright, Igwe (Badilla, 73), Parkhurst, Heaps, Nyassi, Joseph, Larentowicz (Phelan, 39), Castro, Mansally, Dube (Thompson, 81). Yellow
Chicago - Thorrington 36, Busch 62; New England - Albright 7, Igwe 47, Joseph 53. Red Card:
New England - Albright 83. Referee:
17,312. Nov. 8 in Columbus
Columbus 2 Kansas City 0. Goals:
Evans (Carroll) 7, Rogers (Moreno, Schelotto) 58.
(Columbus wins 3-1 on aggregate.) Columbus -
Hesmer, Hejduk, Marshall (Iro, 93+), O'Rourke, Padula (Hendrickson, 92+), Gaven, Carroll, Evans, Rogers, Schelotto (Ekpo,
85), Moreno. Kansas City -
Hartman, Leathers, Conrad, Wahl (Wolff, 68), Harrington, Arnaud, Espinoza (Marquess, 77), Jewsbury, Souter, Thompson (Kraus, 59), Lopez.
Columbus - Evans 63, Rogers 66, Hejduk 87, Ekpo 90; Kansas City - Arnaud 39, Wahl 49. Referee:
Ricardo Salazar. Att.:
11,153. Nov. 8 in Carson, Calif.
Chivas USA 2 Real Salt Lake 2.
Goals: Kljestan pen. 30, Braun (Mendoza) 83; Kovalenko (Morales, Russell) 39, Morales (Findley)
(Real Salt Lake wins 3-2 on aggregate.) Chivas USA -
Thornton, Talley (Braun, 56), Curtin (Eskandarian, 46), Thomas, Bornstein, Kljestan, Marsch, Nagamura,
Mendoza, Harris (Zotinca, 86), Razov. Real Salt Lake -
Rimando, Olave, Borchers, Russell, Wingert, Kovalenko, Beckerman, Morales (Espindola, 87), Johnson, Mathis (Findley,
72), Movsisyan (Williams, 80). Yellow Cards:
Chivas USA - Nagamura 22, Bornstein 60, Razov 86, Thomas 91+; Real Salt Lake - Mathis 10, Borchers 30, Kovalenko 42.
Michael Kennedy. Att.:
19,265. Nov. 9 in Houston
Houston 0 New York 3
(Ubiparipovic) 25, Angel pen. 36, Wolyniec (Richards) 81.
(New York wins 4-1 on aggregate.) Houston -
Onstad, Mulrooney, Boswell, Robinson, Barrett (Ashe, 46), Mullan,
Clark, De Rosario, Davis (Holden, 67), Ching, Kamara (Jaqua, 54). New York -
Cepero, Leitch, Boyens, Jimenez, Goldthwaite, Richards (Kandji, 84), Sassano, Ubiparipovic, van
den Bergh (Mendes, 87), Wolyniec, Angel. Yellow Cards:
Houston - Robinson 62, Onstad 69, Mullan 73; New York - van den Bergh 5, Goldthwaite 28, Sassano 47+.
Baldomero Toledo. Att.: