Red Bulls Lose Match, Draw Postgame Donnybrook

The Red Bulls gave up a 15th-minute goal to former New York attacker Mike Magee, and despite a furious effort, could not find an equalizer over the remaining 75 minutes, falling 1-0 to Los Angeles in the first leg of their Western Conference semifinal series at Red Bull Arena yesterday afternoon.

The Galaxy backline, ably anchored by keeper Josh Saunders—who made five saves, three of them outstanding ones—bent but did not break and succeeded in frustrating New York.

Most frustrated of all was midfielder Rafa Marquez, who had a point blank volley stuffed by Saunders in stoppage time, and then boiled over after the final whistle. The Mexico captain fired the game ball at Landon Donovan as the LA midfielder walked near midfield, sparking a full-blown fracas near the halfway line.

Marquez and Galaxy midfielder Juninho were red-carded for their roles in the dustup, and will miss the second leg on Thursday. We’d say that’s a push in terms of personnel losses for the two sides.

Here’s the incident:

(We enjoyed Harkes‘s “maybe a fly went into his eye” comment.)

And here are the very entertaining match highlights:

The return leg should be something to see, that much you can be sure of. It’s on Thursday at 11:00 pm ET on ESPN2.

We put on our MLS press fedora and went into the Galaxy locker room after the game to get some quotes on both the melee and the performance of LA keeper  Saunders.

Donovan told us some very interesting things. Go check them out here, and see here for the Galaxy’s take on Saunders’ game-saving turn between the pipes.

The New York–LA clash led a pretty spectacular weekend of MLS playoff action, including more feistiness in Philly, a shocker in Salt Lake, and a freakish plague of injuries in Colorado. Catch up on all of that right here.

Has Mexico Left the U.S. in the Dust?

Mexico won the Under-17 World Cup on Sunday, just two weeks after El Tri’s senior team won the Gold Cup in convincing fashion over the United States.

Here are the highlights of the U-17 final, a 2-0 win for Mexico over Uruguay:

The game took place in front of more than 100,000 fans at Azteca Stadium, and delivered a second U-17 World Cup title to Mexico, following junior El Tri’s triumph in the 2005 tournament, when they routed no less an opponent than Brazil 3-0 in the final.

Four players from that 2005 team, led by Giovanni Dos Santos, made up a chunk of the 2011 Gold Cup–winning team, and the star of the ’05 youngsters, Arsenal winger Carlos Vela, is still very much in the mix for the Mexican senior team, even though he didn’t play in the Gold Cup.

The current U-17 team figures to stock the senior team in years to come, too. Their route to the World Cup title could hardly have been more impressive: they beat European champions the Netherlands, a very strong French team, and Germany, the most dominant team in the tournament up until its 3-2 semifinal loss to El Tri.

By way of comparison, Germany eliminated the U.S. with a 4-0 stomping in the Round of 16.

So that’s a Gold Cup title, and a second U-17 world championship for Mexico, while the U.S. lost to Panama in Gold Cup group play, surrendered a 2-0 lead to Mexico in the final, and, after barely squeaking into the knockout stage of the U-17 World Cup, were routed by a team Mexico would later eliminate.

How did Mexico open up such a gap on U.S. soccer in such a short time?

We’re not sure, but it could get worse before it gets better: At the end of the month, Mexico will compete in the U-20 World Cup in Colombia.

The U.S., you may recall, failed to qualify for that competition.

Seattle vs Portland: That Was Then….

The sudden-death overtime NASL playoff thriller at Portland’s sold-out Multnomah Stadium in 1975:

This Is Now:

Stoking the flames for tomorrow night’s first MLS meeting between the fierce Northwest rivals at what is sure to be a sold-out, rocking Qwest Field (11:00 pm EST, ESPN2):

The Skinny:

Seattle (3-3-4) and Portland (4-3-1) are tied with 13 points in the middle of the Western Conference standings. Portland has not won on the road in four tries this season.

Seattle enters the game with some injury concerns as striker O’Brian White (leg surgery) and winger Steve Zakuani (broken leg) are out, while midfielders Mauro Rosales (hamstring) and Brad Evans (quadriceps) are questionable. The Timbers have all of their first-choice players available.

Seattle have been notorious slow starters in their three years of MLS existence, going 1-4-7 alltime in the month of May. Pay attention to Portland’s set pieces tomorrow night; seven of the Timbers’ 11 goals this year have come from corners or free kicks.

Fun fact: Sounders FC defender Jhon Kennedy Hurtado and Portland striker Jorge Perlaza are cousins.

Bonus clip:

Pregame of that 1975 playoff tilt (we really need more houndstooth in our wardrobe. And collars, wider collars.):

Finally, click here for a great article in the Wall Street Journal about the reborn rivalry.

Choice quote:

“They’re hippies,” said Seattle fan Nic Greer, a 32-year-old garbage man with a lip ring who wears a chicken mask on his head to every game and a jersey that reads “Chicken Man” across the back.

Hat-tip to Prison Mike for the WSJ story.

Let’s see some predictions in the comments, and enjoy the game.