(Reuters) - Seattle midfielder Erik Friberg scored the winner as the Sounders beat Los Angeles Galaxy 3-2 to eliminate the defending champions from the Major League Soccer playoffs on Wednesday.
Galaxy did not lack attacking firepower with Robbie Keane, Steven Gerrard and Giovani dos Santos in their ranks but shaky defense proved their undoing.
On the opposite coast, Chris Rolfe scored a late winner as D.C. United opened the playoffs with a 2-1 comeback victory over the New England Revolution at RFK Stadium to book their place in the Eastern Conference semi-finals.
All three Seattle goals resulted from poor defending, with Friberg’s 73rd minute match-winning strike coming after Galaxy’s A.J. DeLaGarza failed to deal with a harmless-looking cross.
“It was the perfect time to score the first one of the season,” Friberg said after Seattle sealed their spot in the last four in the West.
“We need to continue to play as we did in the second half and if we do that I think we’re going to go all the way and win the whole thing.”
In Washington, a spectacular bicycle-kick from striker Juan Agudelo opened the scoring counted for Revolution, last season’s MLS Cup runners-up.
Chris Pontius equalized for United on the stroke of half-time when he headed home a free kick.
Rolfe missed a penalty in the 76th minute when he hit the post but made amends by slotting home the winner from close range in the 83rd minute.
The match ended in controversy when New England midfielder Jermaine Jones was sent off in stoppage time for protesting a handball in the box by D.C. defender Sean Franklin.
Referee Mark Geiger turned down the penalty appeal and an incensed Jones, who had earlier been booked, sprinted towards the official and was promptly shown another yellow card.
The United States international then flung his arms out and appeared to make contact with the referee’s chest, even before the official could brandish a red card.
Jones continued to remonstrate with the referee, grabbing his arm, before being restrained by a team mate.
”I think everybody who came today could see it, it was 100 percent a penalty,” MLS.com quoted Jones as saying.
“My passion then after maybe went a little bit high, but I think it’s normal ... For what happened after, I would say I’m sorry, maybe because I play with the national team it cannot happen, but it happened.
“People who know me, they know that I’m not a good loser. In that moment I was really upset.”
(This version of the story was refiled to fix 11th paragraph)
Reporting by Andrew Both in Cary, North Carolina. Editing by Steve Keating/Peter Rutherford