MLS: Columbus Crew and Atlanta United win first legs of play-offs

Gyasi Zardes scored his 20th goal of the season as Columbus Crew beat Supporters’ Shield holders New York Red Bulls 1-0 in the first leg of the MLS Eastern Conference semi-final on Sunday.

Zardes finished from a back-heeled pass from second-half substitute Federico Higuain in the 61st minute.

New York goalkeeper Luis Robles denied Pedro Santos from distance in the 89th minute, and Zack Steffen blocked Bradley Wright-Phillips’ glancing header in stoppage-time.

New York’s best scoring chance came in the 27th minute when Tim Parker headed a corner against the post.

The second leg is next Sunday in Harrison, New Jersey.

In the other Eastern Conference semi-final, Eric Remedi scored his first MLS goal as Atlanta United beat New York City FC.

Atlanta, who have won 11 of their 18 road games this season, will host the second leg next Sunday.

Remedi tapped in a rebound after Josef Martinez’s shot was blocked by Sean Johnson and hit the post.

Portland Timbers won 2-1 at home against Seattle Sounders in the first leg of the Western Conference semi-finals.

Paul Ruidiaz put Seattle ahead in the 10th minute but Portland replied with goals from Sebastian Blanco and Jeremy Ebobisse before the half-hour mark. The return leg is on Friday.

Diego Rubio scored with his first touch as Western Conference champions Sporting Kansas City drew 1-1 with Real Salt Lake.

Rubio netted from distance in the 60th minute after coming on as a substitute, cancelling out Albert Rusnak’s 52nd-minute opener.

Sporting KC will host the second leg next Sunday.

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