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Dos Santos the difference as Keane's Galaxy hold the playoff edge over Doyle and Colorado

It was playoff time in the MLS last night.

Image: Ted S. Warren

GIOVANI DOS SANTOS’ 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 on 6 November with a return leg in Colorado.

Robbie Keane came off the bench for a brief cameo after replacing Dos Santos after 82 minutes while Kevin Doyle started and played 70 minutes for the Rapids.

Los Angeles scored despite Colorado’s disciplined defence.

“It was very difficult,” dos Santos said. “They press every single ball, and they’re very compact. Not for nothing are they the best defensive team in MLS.”

And Rapids coach Pablo Mastroeni was confident his team could overcome a one-goal deficit when they host the Galaxy at altitude in suburban Denver.

MLS Earthquakes Rapids Soccer Source: David Zalubowski

“We’re in a really good spot,” Mastroeni said. “I like our chances of getting a goal and going into the waning minutes or overtime at altitude, where teams struggle.”

The Eastern Conference semi-finals got underway with two Canadian teams getting the jump on two from New York.

In Montreal, the Impact seizing a 1-0 victory over the New York Red Bulls thanks to Matteo Mancosu’s stunning half-volley.

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.

“Scoring the goal was an incredible feeling,” Mancosu said. “We needed to find the breakthrough and there were a couple opportunities in the first half, but we didn’t take them.

“We started the second half well, and then came this beautiful pass from Marco and I was able to hit it well toward goal. When you hit it well, there’s nothing the goalie can do.”

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 Toronto, goals from Jozy Altidore in the 84th and Tosaint Ricketts in injury time lifted the hosts to a 2-0 victory over New York City FC.

City, who were without Italian star Andrea Pirlo who is nursing a calf injury, created little offense and had to rely on newcomer Eirik Johansen in goal to thwart several strong Toronto opportunities in the first hour.

In the late game, the Seattle Sounders blanked first place FC Dallas 3-0 in the first leg of their Western Conference semi-final.

© AFP 2016

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