Mike Magee's early goal off a cross from David Beckham was enough to give the Los Angeles Galaxy a 1-0 victory over the New York Red Bulls in the first leg of their Major League Soccer playoff tie on Sunday.
Magee scored in the 15th minute on Sunday and the Galaxy made the goal stand up as they gained the edge in the Western Conference semi-final tie.
The Galaxy will need only a draw on Thursday when they host Thierry Henry's Red Bulls in the return leg. The winner of the tie on goal aggregate will play in the Western Conference final against Real Salt Lake or Seattle.
Magee broke through New York's defence on a 45-yard pass from former England captain Beckham and as most of the Red Bulls players looked on passively - thinking the play was offside - Magee slotted the ball past New York goalkeeper Frank Rost.
"The ball was a perfect pass," Magee said. "I was 100 per cent not offside. Besides, it wasn't called, so then it wasn't. I was just glad to get it."
Red Bulls head coach Hans Backe was disappointed that his players let Magee complete the play, no matter their opinion on whether he was offside. "We had about seven guys call for the offside and I believe (Robbie) Keane was offside," Backe said. "Magee came in as a late runner and he made the play. You can't give away a goal like that."
New York's star French forward Henry had a chance in the 22nd minute, but Galaxy keeper Josh Saunders punched away his scissors kick.
The contest was marred by a post-match incident involving two players from each team. The incident commenced after New York's Rafa Marquez threw the ball at Galaxy's Landon Donovan.
In the ensuing scuffle, Galaxy's Brazilian midfielder Juninho threw a punch at Red Bulls defender Stephen Keel, and Marquez took a swing at Galaxy's Adam Cristman. Both Marquez and Juninho received red cards that will keep them out of Thursday's match.
The day`s two other fixtures also brought about away wins, with Houston winning in Philadelphia and Sporting Kansas City leaving Colorado victorious.
Calen Carr`s goal proved to be the difference for the Dynamos, as they beat Union 2-1 in a tense game at PPL Park. Houston went ahead as early as the fifth minute when Brad Davis` free-kick found the head of Andre Hainault who did the rest.
Union hit back in their first-ever play-off game, though, levelling two minutes later when Sebastian Le Toux took in Michael Farfan`s chipped pass and beat Tally Hall with a first-time hit. But it was Houston who went on to win, with Carr running on to Brian Ching`s 30th-minute pass and giving Faryd Mondragon no chance.
Sporting Kansas City had a slightly easier night as they won 2-0 against the Rapids.
The home side were up against it all night and lost Caleb Folan and Kosuke Kimura to first-half injuries before Teal Bunbury gave the visitors a 49th-minute lead when he got on the end of Julio Cesar`s pass.
Things then went from bad to worse for Colorado when Tyrone Marshall, on for Folan, was sent off for bringing down Bunbury in the box (57), and the striker got up to double his side`s lead from the spot.