Crew survive penalty kicks to top D.C. United while RSL takes down LAFC

Federico Higuain MLS Columbus Crew 11212018
Kirk Irwin
A pair of back-and-forth matches with stunning goals completed the knockout portion of the MLS playoffs

Wayne Rooney's first MLS playoff match ended in the cruelest way possible as D.C. United fell to the Columbus Crew in penalty kicks on Thurday night.

Following a 2-2 draw through 120 minutes, Nick DeLeon's crucial miss in the fifth round ended D.C.'s season in a 3-2 loss in penalty kicks. 

The win sends the Crew through to the next round, where they'll take on the Supporters' Shield winners, the New York Red Bulls.

D.C. United jumped in front in the 21st minute as defender Fredric Brillant pounced after Crew goalkeeper Zack Steffen mishandled a cross.

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That lead lasted just 10 minutes, though, before Federico Higuain fired home following a scramble to bring the scoreline to one apiece.

Following the halftime break, the match was defined by a bit of physicality although both teams did have chances to seize control.

The Crew were inches away from scoring a winner in the 85th minute on a rocket of a shot from Pedro Santos, but Bill Hamid's diving safe kept D.C. alive.

Moments later, Steffen made his first save of the night, and it was an incredible one as Luciano Acosta's shot from the center of the box was pushed over the bar as the match went to extra time.

Once there, Higuain stepped up again, scoring in the 97th minute to give the visitors the lead in the first half of the extra period.

It was then DeLeon's turn to save his team, as the defender came off the bench to score a golazo in the 115th minute to send the match into penalty kicks. 

Wayne Rooney missed D.C.'s first kick from the spot with Steffen providing the save, but Bill Hamid stepped up to stop Gyasi Zardes on the Crew's third spot kick.

After Luciano Acosta saw his shot stopped by Steffen as well, former D.C. United star Patrick Mullins' shot clattered off the post on an attempt that could have ended the match.

DeLeon, though, fired his shot up and over the bar, as the Crew sealed the victory and advanced to the Eastern Conference semifinals.

Next up for the Crew is a date with the Red Bulls on Sunday at MAPFRE Stadium in Columbus.

In the Western Conference clash, Real Salt Lake went to Banc of California Stadium and took down Los Angeles FC to seal a conference semifinal series with Sporting Kansas City.

Damir Kreilach scored the game's first in the 21st minute, but crowd trouble took centerstage moments later as fans began throwing objects onto the field.

LAFC equalized soon after the issues started as Danilo Silva finished a Carlos Vela free kick, but the game was soon delayed to deal with the crowd trouble.

Once the match resumed, the two sides remained deadlocked until the 54th minute when substitute Christian Ramirez unleashed a shot past Nick Rimando to give LAFC the lead.

Kreilach stepped up once again in the 58th, though, firing a jumping crane kick to score the equalizer in style. Kreilach then turned provider on RSL's third, setting up Jefferson Savarino for what turned out to be the game-winning goal.

RSL, which only made the playoffs as a result of the LA Galaxy's collapse in the season finale, will now host top-seeded Sporting KC at Rio Tinto Stadium on Sunday.