Los Angeles, Houston into last 4 of MLS playoffs


SANTA CLARA, California (AP) -Los Angeles Galaxy and Houston Dynamo survived challenging away legs to win their MLS conference semifinals on Wednesday, progressing to the last four in the playoffs.

Robbie Keane scored twice and Mike Magee added another as the Galaxy won 3-1 at the San Jose Earthquakes, overturning a 1-0 defeat it suffered at home in the opening leg and winning 3-2 on aggregate.

Houston had the benefit of a 2-0 home win in the opening leg and progressed despite losing 1-0 away to Sporting Kansas City on Wednesday.

Los Angeles will play with either Real Salt Lake or Seattle Sounders in the West final. Real Salt Lake will host the second game, with the opener ending in a 0-0 stalemate.

Houston's opponent in the East final will be either D.C. United or New York Red Bulls. The second leg of New York-D.C. was postponed due to snow and will be played on Thursday; United was held 1-1 at home in the first leg.

Los Angeles scored three times in the first half to quickly overturn the first-leg result.

Keane opened the scoring in the 21st minute - equalizing the tie on aggregate - when he worked through San Jose's midfield and fired in a shot from 22 yards which went in off a post.

The Ireland international made it 2-0 when he slipped in behind San Jose's scattered backline on a 34th-minute counterattack, collected a through ball from Landon Donovan and rounding Earthquakes goalkeeper Jon Busch before scoring.

Magee delivered the insurance goal in the 39th minute, making an unmarked run to 12 yards and one-timing a pass from Donovan.

Alan Gordon gave San Jose hope in the 82nd minute when he put away a mis-hit shot from Justin Morrow for his first career playoff goal. But the Earthquakes could not find the equalizer they needed to force extra time.

Earthquakes defender Ike Opara had a clear shot from 9 yards in second-half stoppage time, but he hit the post.

San Jose had several first-half chances, but the usually sure-finishing club which scored a franchise-record 72 goals in the regular season simply couldn't convert. That included a 26th-minute miss by Earthquakes star Chris Wondolowski, whose shot went over the crossbar from 9 yards out.

Wondolowski, who tied the league's all-time single-season scoring record with 27 goals this season, went scoreless in the playoffs.

In Kansas City, the sole goal came in the 64th minute when Seth Sinovic scored with a diving header off Graham Zusi's cross to notch his first MLS goal to make it 2-1 on aggregate and raise the hopes of the home crowd.

The regular-season conference champions spent the next 30 minutes desperately trying to find the second goal that would force extra time, creating several good chances.

Every time, though, Houston's physical back line managed to knock the ball clear of danger, or goalkeeper Tally Hall would leap forward to snatch a through ball and spoil an attack.

Dynamo squeaked into the playoffs as the fifth seed in the Eastern Conference, but beat fourth-seeded Chicago in the wild-card playoff, and then continued its dominance of Sporting KC with a 2-0 win in the first match of the two-leg conference semifinals.

The two-goal buffer from the first leg allowed Houston to adhere to coach Dominic Kinnear's style by defending deep and clogging the center of the pitch, forcing Sporting out onto the wings and reliant upon crosses which the tall Dynamo defenders were able to repel.

Sporting nearly equalized in the 73rd minute, when C.J. Sapong got behind the defense and attempted to chip the ball over Hall, but the ball floated over the crossbar.

The rebranded Kansas City club was eliminated after a relatively successful season, winning the U.S. Open Cup and reviving its fan base.

Copyright 2016 by STATS LLC and The Associated Press. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC and The Associated Press is strictly prohibited.

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