MLS wrap: Beckham helps Galaxy take playoff lead
Los Angeles Galaxy earned a 1-0 win in the first leg of their MLS playoff semi-final against the New York Red Bulls on Sunday.
Attacking midfielder Mike Magee scored the only goal in the 15th minute of the match at the Red Bull Arena.
Galaxy's star man David Beckham unlocked the Red Bull defence with a pinpoint pass that freed up Magee inside the penalty area.
The sharp execution baffled New York's defenders, who assumed Magee was in an offside position.
Los Angeles has relied on their defence to grind out results throughout the season and they refused to stray away from that game plan against the Red Bulls.
New York remained aggressive throughout the match but proved unable to force a goal despite several opportunities.
Red Bulls captain Thierry Henry squandered an early chance from just outside the box, with his side-footed shot rolling harmlessly past Los Angeles goalkeeper Josh Saunders and out of play.
New York had further opportunities to equalise but Saunders held firm on each occasion.
Carlos Mendes sent a header sailing over the bar in the 88th minute before Saunders blocked a rebounded shot from Henry.
Frustrations boiled over as a fight broke out shortly after the game.
Galaxy substitute Adam Christman launched a punch at Mendes after Rafael Marquez had thrown the ball at the back of Landon Donovan.
Juninho then followed up by elbowing Stephen Keel in the face.
An MLS spokesperson announced after the match that both Marquez and Juninho received red cards after the game, ruling them out of the return fixture.
Despite trailing on aggregate, Henry remains hopeful New York can turn it around during the second leg in Los Angeles next Thursday.
"I told the guys that we still have 90 minutes to go and let's try to do the same thing that LA did to us," Henry said.
"But it will be difficult."
In other matches, Houston Dynamo won 2-1 in the first leg of their semi-final away to Philadelphia Union.
Andrew Hainault opened the scoring for Houston four minutes into the match at PPL Park, but the lead lasted just two minutes before Sebastien Le Toux levelled for the home side.
Calen Carr struck the winner for Dynamo in the 29th minute.
Finally, two goals from Teal Bunbury saw Sporting Kansas City win 2-0 away to the Colorado Rapids.
The Rapids had Tyrone Marshall sent off on 57 minutes after he committed a foul inside the area, with Bunbury notching his second from the penalty spot.