Gift exchange: New York Red Bulls, Houston Dynamo trade ugly first-half error goals | SIDELINE

The MLS Cup Playoffs is when teams dial it up a notch and increase the overall intensity of their play. No mistakes here, right?

Hmm. Maybe not.

The first half of Wednesday's Eastern Conference Semifinals second leg between New York and Houston wasn't exactly a display of mental fortitude. The Red Bulls and Dynamo each nicked a goal due to some pretty ghastly errors.

First, usually sure-handed Tally Hall made a crucial error when he failed to corral Lloyd Sam's cross in the 23rd minute, and Bradley Wright-Phillips was only too happy to deposit the loose ball into the net. (See the video below.) Advantage, New York.

But then the Red Bulls gave it right back 12 minutes later. Defender Ibrahim Sekagya, who was nursing what looked like an earlier hamstring injury, cleared a ball from the Red Bulls' corner directly to Brad Davis at the top of the box. The Dynamo captain took a touch and fired in an easy equalizer past Luis Robles. (Click on the video below.)

Not exactly textbook fundamentals here. But at least it was an exchange of gift goals that canceled each other out, right?

Then again, there's still 45 minutes to go...