HARRISON, N.J. (AP) — Mike Magee scored off a long cross from David Beckham in the 15th minute, giving the Los Angeles Galaxy a 1-0 win against the New York Red Bulls on Sunday in the first leg of the Western Conference semifinals series.
Magee’s goal enables the Galaxy to head home needing only a tie or a win on Thursday night to advance to the conference finals. The two-game series is based on aggregate goals between the two teams.
Josh Saunders got his ninth shutout in 19 matches this season for the Galaxy, who beat the Red Bulls for the first time in 2011, after a 1-1 tie in May and a 2-1 loss earlier this month in New Jersey.
Magee, who began his career with the Red Bulls franchise and was traded to the Galaxy in 2009, got past the defense on a 45-yard pass from Beckham. While most of New York’s players stood and watched, thinking the play was offside, Magee pushed it past Red Bulls keeper Frank Rost for the lone goal of the match.
The Galaxy almost scored in the 12th minute when Robbie Keane fired a shot that clanked off the right post. Magee was in front to head home a rebound, but his attempt sailed over the crossbar.
Red Bulls forward Thierry Henry had a chance in the 22nd minute, when his scissors attempt sailed high toward the goal, but Saunders punched it away at the last second.
New York’s best chance to score came in the 49th minute, when Dane Richards swerved through two defenders to put a pass across to Luke Rodgers. But Rodgers’ point-blank shot was deflected by Saunders’ right hand and the ball sailed over the crossbar before Rodgers could get to it.
Rost made a brilliant save in the 55th minute, keeping the lead at one goal, when he stopped Landon Donovan on breakaway attempt. Donovan was in alone, but Rost made a fine right-handed save on Donovan’s shot.
The Red Bulls had an opportunity to tie the match with under 2 minutes remaining in regulation, but Carlos Mendes’ header off a corner kick from Rodgers went over the crossbar.
In stoppage time, the Red Bulls came close again, when Rafa Marquez sent a shot from 25 yards out that Saunders made a diving stop on, with the rebound attempt sailing wide right.
It marked the first time the two teams met in the MLS Cup playoffs since the 2001 quarterfinals, a series won by the Galaxy in three games.