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Mls Playoff Capsules

November 01, 2003|Paul Gutierrez

Format: All first-round series are home-and-home with the winner, based on aggregate goals, advancing. The first game will not have an overtime period but if the teams are tied after Game 2, a 30-minute, golden-goal overtime (split into two 15-minute halves) will be played to determine the series winner. If still tied, penalty kicks will ensue.

WESTERN CONFERENCE

NO. 1 SAN JOSE vs. NO. 4 GALAXY

* Earthquakes (14-7-9, 51 points), Galaxy (9-12-9, 36 points)

* Season series: Series tied, 1-1-2.

* TV -- Fox Sports World. Radio -- KXMX (1190), KTNQ (1020, Spanish), Radio Korea (1230, Korean).

* Playoff series: Game 1 today at Home Depot Center, 7 p.m.; Game 2 Nov. 9 at Spartan Stadium in San Jose, 6 p.m.

* Update: The Galaxy is playing its best soccer of the season, as seen in its 3-0 defeat of the Earthquakes two weeks ago and its 1-1 draw at San Jose to close out the regular season. And although midfielder Peter Vagenas wasn't so sure the Galaxy could right itself in two games, he did say his team was never close to checking out, no matter how bad things became. "No, egos are too big here," he said. "Guys are very proud of what they've done and what their name on the back of their jersey means to soccer and what they mean to this league. If anything, it just [ticks] people off. Personally, if and when we win that championship, I'm going to take a chain to [the trophy] and drag it through every city that beat us this year and wake them up at night." The Earthquakes, who rested Honda player of the year Landon Donovan in last week's tie, have scored once in their last 512 minutes. The Galaxy outscored the Earthquakes, 5-3, in aggregate this season. Goalkeeper Kevin Hartman was named Galaxy most valuable player, Danny Califf defender of the year and Cobi Jones humanitarian of the year Friday in a vote by reporters covering the Galaxy.... Forward Alejandro Moreno has been called up by the Venezuelan national team for its World Cup qualifying matches against Colombia on Nov. 15 and Bolivia on Nov. 18. Moreno will miss the Colombia match, though, if the Galaxy is still playing, Nov. 14 at Kansas City or Colorado.

Prediction: Galaxy.

Tickets -- (213) 480-3232 or (714) 740-2000.

*

NO. 2 KANSAS CITY vs. NO. 3 COLORADO

* Wizards (11-10-9, 42 points), Rapids (11-12-7, 40 points)

* Season series: Rapids, 2-1-1.

* Playoff series: Game 1 Tuesday at Invesco Field in Denver; Game 2 Nov. 8 at Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City.

* Update: A series that promises to be a dogfight -- each team scored eight goals against the other -- should be settled by two league MVP candidates: Kansas City's veteran midfielder, Preki, and Colorado's fiery forward, John Spencer. Preki, 40, won the league scoring title with 41 points on 12 goals and 17 assists and woke up the Wizards from a brutal nine-game midseason winless streak. They were unbeaten in their last five games. The Rapids struggled at the end, going 0-3-3. Colorado, though, had started the year 1-6-1, putting Coach Tim Hankinson's job in jeopardy before rallying at midseason behind Spencer, who had 14 goals. Rapid goalkeeper Scott Garlick's nine shutouts were tied for the league lead.

* Prediction: Kansas City.

*

Eastern Conference

NO. 1 CHICAGO vs. NO. 4 D.C. UNITED

* Fire (15-7-8, 53 points), D.C. United (10-11-9, 39 points)

* Season series: D.C. United, 2-1-1.

* Playoff series: Game 1 today at RFK Stadium in Washington, D.C.; Game 2 Nov. 9 at Soldier Field in Chicago.

* Update: Don't bet against Chicago, which already has won the U.S. Open Cup and has a solid combination of youth and experience. It is led by the Ra-Ra Boys: forwards Ante Razov (14 goals, five assists) and Damani Ralph (11 goals, six assists). D.C. United is without injured goalkeeper Nick Rimando, who had a 1.13 goals-against average in 25 games, though United outscored the Fire by a combined 5-4. There has been speculation that this could be Ray Hudson's final year coaching in the nation's capital, even as it is D.C. United's first playoff appearance since beating the Galaxy to win the 1999 MLS Cup.

* Prediction: Chicago.

*

NO. 2 NEW ENGLAND vs. NO. 3 NEW YORK/NEW JERSEY

* Revolution (12-9-9, 45 points), MetroStars (11-10-9, 42 points)

* Season series: Revolution, 3-0-1.

* Playoff series: Game 1 today at Giants Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J.; Game 2 Nov. 9 at Gillette Stadium in Foxboro, Mass.

* Update: New England, which came within a Carlos Ruiz golden goal of beating the Galaxy to win last season's title, finished strong again. A year after closing with a 5-0-1 kick, the Revolution won its last five to finish second and lead the league in goals scored with 55. And it did it without oft-injured forward Taylor Twellman, who still had 15 goals in 22 games to tie the Galaxy's Ruiz for the MLS lead. MetroStar forward Clint Mathis has scored only twice since July 3. New England dominated the season series, outscoring the MetroStars, 12-7, in aggregate.

* Prediction: New England

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