Los Angeles Soccer: Mehdi Ballouchy
The Galaxy is New York-bound.
Well, New Jersey.
The New York Red Bulls' 2-0 triumph in a wild-card clash Wednesday night at FC Dallas sets up a major-market showdown, one Major League Soccer and television rights-holder ESPN will relish, for the first round of the league's playoffs.
The Galaxy (19-5-10), winner of the Supporters' Shield as Western Conference champion, will open its postseason campaign against New York on Sunday afternoon at Red Bull Arena in Harrison, N.J. Kickoff will be noon PT, and the game will be televised by ESPN2 and ESPN Deportes.
The second leg will be next Thursday at Home Depot Center, with an 8 p.m. start. The team that scores the most goals over two games advances to the Nov. 6 Western Conference final.
Columbus plays Thursday night at Colorado in the second wild-card game, and the winner meets Eastern Conference winner Sporting Kansas City in a first-round opener Saturday.
The Red Bulls went 1-0-1 against the Galaxy this season, drawing in a sizzling encounter at Home Depot Center in May, then winning earlier this month in Harrison when the Galaxy, weary from a difficult month of MLS and CONCACAF Champions League action, used a reserve lineup filled with heavy legs.
Thierry Henry and Landon Donovan traded goals in the first meeting, a 1-1 draw; Henry and Luke Rodgers scored in the second, a 2-0 Red Bulls win.
“New York -- you can kind of put an asterisk next to those games,” left back Todd Dunivant said earlier Wednesday. “The first was a good game, probably one of the best games of the year in MLS, to be honest. And on the road we were exhausted.
“I don't think anyone fears New York, and we would love that [matchup], and I think the league would love that.”
Harry How/Getty Images
Colorado's Macoumba Kandji is mobbed by teammates -- while FC Dallas' Ugo Ihemelu watches -- after having a hand in the winning goal for the Rapids.
TORONTO -- Macoumba Kandji was hurting. He was on crutches. He'd never felt better in his life.
Ah, pleasure and pain. Not many know the balance between them better than the Senegal-born, Gambia-bred, Georgia-schooled forward, who had plenty to celebrate Sunday night -- and was due for an MRI exam Monday morning to assess damage to his left leg.
Kandji was responsible for the goal that lifted Colorado to the MLS Cup title, an overtime own goal by FC Dallas defender George John that completed a 2-1 turnaround that gave the Rapids their first piece of silverware.
Kandji was on a trainer's table while teammates feted their triumph with bad, smelly champagne. When he finally arose, gingerly stepping forward with a crutch under his left arm, defender Drew Moor wrapped him in his arms. The broad smile wasn't about to leave his face.
“It's fantastic, man,” he said. “I'm just so happy.”
Kandji had come on for Omar Cummings in the 98th minute. It was his second appearance in an MLS Cup final -- he was a late sub for the New York Red Bulls, while on loan from the Atlanta Silverbacks, then a second-tier club, in Columbus' 2008 triumph at Home Depot Center -- and this one was much more fulfilling.
His big moment arrived in the 107th, after FC Dallas failed to clear Conor Casey's cross from the left, and the ball squirted out to Kandji on the right side of the Hoops' box.