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Red Bulls host DC United; Galaxy play Earthquakes on TSN2

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The Sports Network
11/7/2012 9:54:34 AM
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Harrison, NJ (Sports Network) - The odds appear to be stacked in New York's favor as the club gears up for its Eastern Conference semifinal second leg against D.C. United on Wednesday.

Catch all the action starting at 8pm et/11pm pt on TSN2.

D.C. finished above New York in the regular season, but Hurricane Sandy forced Major League Soccer to switch the location of the home ties in the series.

Should the return match finish level like the 1-1 draw in the first leg at RFK Stadium on Saturday, then the Red Bulls would have the advantage of playing at Red Bull Arena in extra time.

To make matters worse for D.C. United, head coach Ben Olsen faces a selection headache regarding Andy Najar's replacement. The Honduran was shown a red card for hurling the ball at referee Jair Marrufo in frustration, leaving the 19- year-old out for the second leg.

"He's a young kid, he made a young mistake," Olsen told MLSsoccer.com. "I thought [referee Jair Marrufo] let it boil up a little bit with some tough calls against us. That's no excuse to react that way. But we'll adjust. It's what we've been doing all year."

The candidates to replace Najar are Daniel Woolard and Robbie Russell. Woolard hasn't played since August 4 when he suffered a concussion against the Columbus Crew, while Russell has managed just 12 minutes since recovering from surgery for plantar fasciitis.

New York is not without a key absence either.

Rafa Marquez has not been ruled out, but he looks likely to miss the return leg after leaving the series opener at halftime with tightness in his calf, a lingering injury that has limited the Mexican's minutes this season.

"He was very frustrated with the calf," head coach Hans Backe told MLSsoccer.com. "He has been picking up that calf a number of times this season and going into the playoffs, he played very well. Picking up late in the first half, he was just upset over that."

The first leg brought an uninspiring performance from the Red Bulls, who conceded an own goal from Roy Miller before getting bailed out of a loss by Bill Hamid's gaffe moments later.

Marquez stressed after the match that the Red Bulls needed an attitude adjustment in order to make a deep run in the postseason, an assertion that Backe supported.

"When you go into playoffs, they are different games," explained Backe. "It changes. It becomes a different game if you talk about the defending, the pressing game, tackles, and things like that.

"Everyone has to be ready to do the dirty work for 90 minutes and after this game, everyone should be aware of it, the price you have to pay to win the whole way."

L.A. hopes to overturn deficit against San Jose

Santa Clara, CA (Sports Network) - The Los Angeles Galaxy have overturned a first-leg deficit just twice in their long postseason history - the first back in the inaugural season of MLS in 1996 against the San Jose Earthquakes.

Sixteen years later, the Galaxy are the exact same position after a 1-0 defeat in the first leg of Western Conference semifinals.

This time, as defending MLS Cup champions, Los Angeles has to overturn the gap on the road.

Los Angeles visits San Jose on Wednesday night in the second leg of their two- game series and a one-goal win at Buck Shaw Stadium is the minimum needed just to force extra time.

The Earthquakes need just a draw to advance to the Western finals, and the top squad during the regular season was impressive at home all year.

"First and foremost, we can't concede," L.A.'s Landon Donovan said. "We've got to be smart with our defending, but we're in a position now where we've got nothing to lose.

"So we're going to go like we have always, we're going to go and try to win the game. There's no reason why the guys in this room can't go win a game in San Jose."

Los Angeles trails in the series after San Jose struck in stoppage time at The Home Depot Center on Sunday. Victor Bernardez scored off a deflected free kick from 40 yards, giving San Jose its ninth stoppage-time goal this season.

"It was never a game you would think that we would lose," Donovan said, "but it was kind of one fluke play, and we were a little unlucky."

L.A. has scored five goals in its two road games against San Jose this season, losing 4-3 at Stanford Stadium in June and tying 2-2 at Buck Shaw in October.

"Now it looks like we've got to get two. But it's not over. We've played well there twice this year," Donovan said.

L.A. felt it played well in the first match, and David Beckham felt team could have won if it took advantage of its opportunities.

"If you don't put one of those (chances) away it can always kill you at the end ... But we can take the positives from the chances we created and the possession that we had," Beckham said.

San Jose is in great shape for the second leg against L.A., but 27-goal scorer Chris Wondolowski does not expect his side to be happy to hang onto a one-goal lead.

"We expect them to come out flying on Wednesday night, but we will also come out flying," he said. "We are not planning on sitting back and protecting a lead."

A good sign from the win was the shutout, the first for the Earthquakes since mid-September. San Jose had just two shutouts over its last 14 regular-season matches.

"I think it was a very mature away performance," San Jose coach Frank Yallop said. "We didn't want to concede a goal. ... At this point, you've got to make sure you do that. We worked all week on defending."

San Jose knows there is still a lot of work to do in the second leg.

"We haven't accomplished anything yet. We still have another game to go and we have to be humble," Bernardez said. "We respect them and we know ... they will come out ready again Wednesday night."

Mike Magee Victor Bernardez (Photo: The Canadian Press)

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(Photo: The Canadian Press)
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