Dax McCarty scored in the 72nd minute and the New York Red Bulls beat D.C. United, 1-0, on Sunday in Washington in the first leg of their Eastern Conference semifinal series in Major League Soccer.
After a foul by United’s Taylor Kemp, Sacha Kljestan’s long free kick found McCarty — who had slipped behind the defense — three yards out and McCarty’s header eluded goalkeeper Bill Hamid.
New York’s defense was stifling, limiting United to nine shots, none on target.
The Red Bulls’ Mike Grella had a point-blank opportunity inside the six-yard box in the 33rd minute, but his shot deflected off Hamid’s face and bounced away safely.
The teams finish the series next Sunday in New York.
at Seattle 2, FC Dallas 1: Clint Dempsey broke a tie on a direct free kick in the 86th minute in the Sounders’ comeback victory in the first leg of their Western Conference semifinal series.
Dempsey drove a shot from 25 yards into the upper right side of the net. He also scored Wednesday night in a 3-2 knockout-round victory over the Galaxy.
Andreas Ivanschitz tied it for fourth-seeded Sounders with an unassisted goal in the 67th minute. Fabian Castillo opened the scoring for top-seeded Dallas in the 18th minute.
The second leg of the series is next Sunday in Frisco, Texas. The Sounders would advance to the West final with a win or a tie.
at Portland 0, Vancouver 0: David Ousted had six saves and the visiting Whitecaps held off the charging Timbers for a scoreless draw in the first leg of the other Western Conference semifinal. Ousted, who led the league with 13 shutouts during the regular season, deflected Diego Valeri’s dangerous free kick in the 71st minute to help preserve the tie.
Portland was without starting goal keeper Adam Kwarasey, who sat because of a flu-like illness. He was replaced by Jake Gleeson, who hadn’t played in an MLS game since 2011.
at Montreal 2, Columbus 1: Substitute Johan Venegas broke a tie in the 77th minute to help the Impact beat the Crew in their Eastern Conference semifinal opener. Patrice Bernier had the other goal for Montreal. Columbus’ Federico Higuain opened the scoring in the 33rd minute.