Galaxy, Impact gain edge in MLS Cup playoffs

Los Angeles (AFP) – Giovani dos Santos’s second-half header was enough to give the Los Angeles Galaxy a 1-0 victory over the Colorado Rapids on Sunday and the edge in their MLS Cup playoff tie.

The Mexican striker made good use of a strong individual effort from Jelle Van Damme with a header that deflected off Rapids defender Axel Sjoberg and looped over Colorado keeper Tim Howard.

The Galaxy grabbed a slim lead in their Western Conference semi-final tie, which will conclude November 6 with a return leg in Colorado.

The Eastern Conference semi-finals got underway in Montreal, where Matteo Mancosu’s stunning half-volley lifted the Impact to a 1-0 first-leg victory over the New York Red Bulls.

The Italian import out-raced two Red Bulls defenders and one-timed a blistering shot just inside the box to the left of keeper Luis Robles in the 61st minute.

Marco Donadel fed Mancosu with a well-timed long ball over the top of the Red Bulls midfield.

Mancosu has six goals in 16 appearances since arriving in July on loan from Serie A outfit Bologna, and has filled the void left by Ivorian star Didier Drogba who hasn’t played in a month as he battles a sore back.

“When you come up big against a good team like the Red Bulls, people start to talk,” said Montreal coach Mauro Biello, whose side will try to seal a conference finals berth in the return leg next Sunday. “His stock is rising.”

The Impact successfully stifled the Red Bulls’ potent attack.

The visitors’ best chance came in second-half stoppage time when Evan Bush parried a close-range shot by Omer Damari into the path of Bradley Wright-Phillips, who fired wide.

Damari was shown a red card seconds later for a late challenge on Calum Mallace, and won’t be available for the return leg.

In other conference semi-final first-leg matches Sunday, Toronto hosted New York City FC in an Eastern Conference clash while in the West the Seattle Sounders hosted FC Dallas — winners of the Supporters’ Shield awarded to the team that tops the regular-season table.

Toronto are coming off a 3-1 victory over Philadelphia in the knockout round on Wednesday, their first MLS Cup playoff win, while City had a bye.

The Sounders advanced with a late winner on Thursday against Sporting Kansas City and will be out to avenge a penalty shootout defeat to Dallas in the same round of the playoffs last year.

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