Houston and San Jose registered victories in the first legs of their MLS semi-finals on Sunday.
Adam Moffat and Will Bruin scored for the Houston Dynamo in their 2-0 victory over Eastern Conference leaders Sporting Kansas City at home, while the San Jose Earthquakes left it late to register a 1-0 win in Los Angeles over the Galaxy.
In Houston, Moffat gave Dynamo the lead in the 18th minute with a stunning blast from just outside the box, powering past keeper Jimmy Nielsen.
The Dynamo doubled their lead in the 78th minute when Bruin got a feed from Calen Carr in the centre of the box and blasted the ball into the net.
It was Bruin’s third goal of the post-season and took him top of the playoff scoring chart.
Despite having the edge in possession, Sporting couldn’t break past a stingy Houston defence.
Peter Vermes’ side could at least be happy with the fact that the result wasn’t at LIVESTRONG Sporting Park and it will try to overturn a two-goal deficit in the second leg on Wednesday.
Meanwhile, at the Home Depot Center, San Jose had Victor Bernardez to thank for their late victory over the Galaxy.
Bernardez took a lengthy run up on a free kick from 35 yards out and crushed the ball through the wall to score the winner in the fourth minute of stoppage time.
The chances in the opening half came mostly from the Galaxy, aside from a second minute Chris Wondolowski shot.
In the early going, David Beckham floated a free kick toward the net from the left flank.
Robbie Keane connected but the ball skidded off the top of his head and zipped a few feet wide.
At the end of the half, Los Angeles created two chances down the left wing.
First Landon Donovan pulled the ball back behind Keane’s run and in stoppage time Todd Dunivant’s cross sizzled a few inches above Mike Magee’s head.
Several second-half substitutions, including the rare withdrawal of Beckham, helped spark the game.
The best Galaxy chance of the match came five minutes from time.
Magee scooted the ball to Donovan, who passed back to Keane.
The Irishman blasted from just outside the box, and the entire goal frame shuddered when the ball hit the crossbar.
Then, deep into stoppage time, Bernardez bobbed up to win it for his side.