A season after failing to reach the playoffs, Coach Dave Sarachan's
CHICAGO FIRE has reached the semifinals thanks to an emphatic 4-0 win over
D.C. United in which IVAN GUERRERO notched two goals, including curving
left-footed 25-yard strike that befuddled D.C. keeper Nick Rimando. In the
semifinal, Chicago faces NEW ENGLAND, which over came a 1-0 first-leg
loss to the MetroStars and a 1-0 deficit in the second leg to win 3-2 on
aggregate. JOSE CANCELA ignited the Revs' comeback when he came off the
bench in the 62nd minute, scoring the Revs' first goal six minutes later and
setting up the Pat Noonan for the second with a corner kick. Khano
Smith struck the third goal.
STEVE SAMPSON, his job in jeopardy after a .500 regular-season record and
fourth-place finish in the West, can breath easier after his Los Angeles
Galaxy ousted San Jose, the league's top regular-season team. The Galaxy's
1-1 tie in San Jose gave it 4-2 aggregate win to earn a semifinal encounter with
Colorado. The Rapids, playing 66 minutes with a man down, beat Dallas on
penalty kicks after a 2-2 tie.
AC MILAN ended Juventus' perfect Italian Serie A run with a 3-1 win that
gave Juve its first blemish after starting the season with nine straight wins.
Juventus, which fell on goals by Clarence Seedorf, Kaka and Andrea Pirlo,
maintains a two-point lead over AC Milan at the top of the standings.
D.C. United playmaker CHRISTIAN GOMEZ's clever playmaking and appearance
in the fan section earlier this season had turned him into one of league's most
likable players. But he finished 2005 in disgrace when he was ejected for
spitting at Chicago defender C.J. Brown with the score 3-0. A fine volley by
Jesse Marsch gave Chicago a 4-0 win, ousting the defending champs.
After falling to Colorado on penalty kicks, FC DALLAS won't be a part of
the MLS Cup its new Pizza Hut Park will host. New England, which lost MLS Cup 2002,
1-0, to Los Angeles, is the last team to have a home advantage in the final. The
Galaxy failed to make it to Home Depot Center finals in 2003 and 2004.
Newly promoted Wigan Athletic downed Fulham, 1-0. Fulham's American
defender Carlos Bocanegra started and played 89 minutes until suffering a
muscle injury while Brian McBride came on for the final eight minutes.
Goalkeeper Brad Friedel got shelled as his Blackburn went down,
4-2, to leader Chelsea. Defender Jonathan Spector got his second start of
the season for Charlton, which fell, 1-0, to Bolton.
In Germany, Borussia M'Gladbach, with American Kasey Keller in
goal, fell, 2-1, at Borussia Dortmund in front of 80,100 fans. It ended
fifth-place Gladbach's five-game undefeated streak. Gregg Berhalter and
Energie Cottbus got thumped, 4-1, by Freiburg but remain second in the
German Second Division.
American defender OGUCHI ONYEWU, who has two red cards in 12 games,
picked up his second yellow of the season in Standard Liege's 2-1 loss to
Excelsior Mouscron. Standard still has a two-point lead at the top of the
Belgian Juliper League standings.
In Norway, Aalesund, whose goalkeeper is former New England Rev Adin
Brown fell, 3-0, to Viking and will drop to the Second Division next season.