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Red Bulls douse Fire, Whitecaps roll in MLS playoffs

Chicago (AFP) – A seventh-minute New York Red Bulls goal for English striker Bradley Wright-Phillips and Uruguayan midfielder Nicolas Mezquida’s brace for Vancouver sparked historic shutouts Wednesday in the Major League Soccer playoffs.

Sixth-seeded Red Bulls stunned third-seeded host Chicago 4-0 with the most lopsided rout in MLS knockout-round playoff history, a record only until Vancouver followed with a 5-0 romp over the San Jose Earthquakes.

The Red Bulls, who became only the fourth road winner in 18 knockout-round MLS playoff matches, also had goals from US midfielder Sacha Kljestan in the 11th minute, Austrian midfielder Daniel Royer in the 70th and Argentine winger Gonzalo Veron in the 87th.

New York advanced to an Eastern Conference semi-finals home-and-home matchup against top seed Toronto FC. The Red Bulls drew the Canadian squad 1-1 at home in May and lost 4-2 last month at Toronto in regular-season meetings.

Vancouver booked a Western Conference semi-final berth against the defending champion Seattle Sounders.

Colombian striker Fredy Montero opened the scoring for the Whitecaps in the 33rd minute while Uruguayan forward Cristian Techera followed in the 57th minute and Costa Rican defender Kendall Waston found the net in the 66th.

Mezquida added goals in the 78th and 80th minutes to complete the rout.

New York improved to 3-0 in knockout round matches, winning in 2011 at Dallas and 2014 against Kansas City.

Wright-Phillips netted his eighth career MLS playoff goal after a misplay from Fire goalkeeper Matt Lampson to produce all the scoring the Red Bulls needed.

German icon Bastian Schweinsteiger, who scored three goals in 24 regular-season matches, came off the Chicago bench and played 25 minutes despite calf and quadriceps injuries.

Thursday’s knockout matches find Atlanta United facing the Columbus Crew for a berth against New York City FC in the East and Sporting Kansas City against the Houston Dynamo for a spot against the West top seed Portland Timbers.

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