New York let 2 goal lead slip and LA gain upper hand in MLS Conference Semi Finals
Houston Dynamo 2 New York Red Bulls 2 3 November
The Dynamo fought back from a disastrous first-half to claim a draw against the Supporters Shield winners. The visitors, who entered play on the back of a eight game unbeaten run, including five victories in that stretch, took the lead after 22 minutes. Captain Thierry Henry swung in a teasing cross that tempted Houston’s keeper Tally Hall off his line and Tim Cahill managed to shake off centre back Eric Brunner to sneak in and get his head on the ball and direct it into the net. The visitors continued to dominate and 10 minutes later doubled their advantage. Henry picked the ball up at the edge of his own box and starting a swift counter attack that also involved Cahill, he played a ball to Eric Alexander who had made his way into the hosts penalty area and he did the rest as the midfielder cut inside on Eric Brunner before beating Hall with near post strike. 2 minutes before the interval and Houston showed a glim’s of what was to take place in the second-half as Will Bruin was played into space by Boniek Garcia, New York defender Ibrahim Sekagya quickly recovered though and forced him wide and his off balance shot sailed harmlessly off target. 6 minutes after the interval the ball did nestle in the visitors net and the fightback was on. A poor clearance from Red Bulls left back David Carney fell to Ricardo Clark who found himself alone at the top of the New York penalty box and he sent a shot through the legs of Jamison Olave, who’s day was about to get a lot worse shortly after, that found the goal to half the deficit for his side. With 25 minutes remaining the Red Bulls were reduced to ten-men. Olave was shown a straight red card for a reckless tackle from behind on Omar Cummings, who had only being on the field 4 minutes after he had replaced Giles Barnes. That definitely changed the momentum in the Dynamo’s favour. 13 minutes later and the hosts nearly got level. Brad Davis sent in a excellently placed corner which Brunner managed to get his head to, but could not direct it on goal. Just as it looked as though New York had escaped with a win Houston got their deserved equaliser 2 minutes into stoppage time. Another Davis corner found the head of Bobby Boswell whose initial effort was saved by New York goalkeeper Luis Robles, unfortunately he offered up a rebound and that was gleefully accepted by Cummings to send the stadium into raptures. Just before the final whistle things could have got even better for the home side when they had a strong appeal for a penalty waved away by referee Ricardo Salazar after Cummings appeared to get clipped by Sekagya. With the game nicely poised though it sets up a great 2nd Leg to be played at Red Bull Area on Wednesday.
LA Galaxy 1 Real Salt Lake 0
The hosts take the narrowest of advantages to Utah on Thursday for the 2nd Leg as they failed to capitalise with a greater number of goals from the chances they created. Landon Donovan had the opening chance with 12 minutes showing on the clock. Gyasi Zardes split two defenders with a through ball into the box that found the veteran forward but he could not find the target as he fired wide. 7 minutes later and captain Robbie Keane fired straight at keeper Nick Rimando after being played into space by Donovan when Chris Schuler could not control his header after a flick-on from a goal-kick. Schuler was in the right spot twice as his sliding stops from Keane’s attempted crosses prevented chances for Robbie Rogers after 32 minutes a Donovan 3 minutes before the half-time break. 3 minutes after the restart and the Galaxy finally found the target with a goal that proved to be the winner. Keane had got to the left side and pulled a ball back looking for either Donovan or Rogers, but as the ball continued to roll he in fact found Sean Franklin who was just short of thirty-yards out from goal, but it turned out well as he smashed a brilliant shot with the outside of his right foot that screamed into the net passed a helpless Rimando. The closest RSL came to an equaliser was after 67 minutes. Sebastian Velasquez, who had come into the action only 6 minutes earleir for Ned Grabavoy, got off a shot, but Franklin managed to get a block on it to divert it away from trouble. Keane had other opportunity 5 minutes from time to double his sides advantage, but after being set away on a break-away he fired his shot wide.