MLS PLAYOFF WRAP: San Jose makes amazing comeback

By Ridge Mahoney

San Jose reverses a four-goal deficit in most amazing comeback in league history; Chicago and the Revolution hold serve at home to set up an Eastern Conference showdown; Kansas City edges Colorado in one of the craziest 2-0 games ever played to win 3-1 on aggregate.

BEST GOALS: These have to be subdivided by category because of an overflow of candidates.

For power and accuracy: Damani Ralph's 25-yard cracker into the top corner for the first Fire goal in its 2-0 win over D.C. United gets the nod along with Jeff Agoos' free kick that triggered San Jose's rally after it fell behind, 2-0, in the game and 4-0 on total goals.

For a superb finish of an intricate buildup: Pat Noonan's right-footed shot into the bottom corner following a Jose Cancela pass and a Dario Fabbro dummy effectively snuffed any hopes of the Metros overturning a 2-0 first-leg deficit.

For gymnastic degree-of-difficulty: Igor Simutenkov's bike wasn't of the overhead variety, but still he volleyed a dropping ball into the net from a sharp angle to give Kansas City a 1-0 lead two minutes into first-half stoppage time.

For heart-rending finality: Rodrigo Faria, traded by Chicago to San Jose during the season while in Brazil mourning the death of his father, stuck away a perfect ball from Landon Donovan in sudden-death overtime to complete the Galaxy's collapse.

BEST ASSIST: Chris Roner's header of a remarkable Richard Mulrooney cross in the 90th minute put the Quakes ahead 4-2 on the night and tied the series 4-4.

Mulrooney, who had been cramping up in the second half, worked and battled near the right-wing corner flag to carve out enough space for his deep cross to the far post for his third assist of the game.

BEST SAVES: Pat Onstad repelled the Galaxy with a double-save on Carlos Ruiz and Danny Califf. He turned away a Ruiz header and then blocked with his face a follow-up shot by Califf while sprawled in the goalmouth.

Galaxy keeper Kevin Hartman flashed out his left hand to deflect a point-blank glancing header by Jamil Walker and later denied Manny Lagos from the same range with a brilliant kick save. Then the roof fell in.

Rapids midfielder Kyle Beckerman flicked away a Carey Talley shot off the goal line with his left foot during one of several frantic scrambles in Kansas City's win.

Kansas City keeper Tony Meola scrambled back to push a rolling back pass from Talley past the post and out for a corner kick.

Joe Cannon charged out to block a point-blank diving header from Eric Quill with the Wizards and Rapids tied 0-0.

BEST GROUNDSKEEPING: The sidelines of Spartan Stadium were under nearly a foot of rainwater Sunday morning, necessitating the use of pumps to drain the water so the Quakes-Galaxy classic could be played.

''I was praying for rain,'' said Quakes midfielder Brian Mullan, whose runs up the right flank unhinged his former teammates. ''Whenever it's wet it favors the offense. And when you need to score goals that's what you want.''

Heavy rains Friday and Saturday helped wash away the football lines, which were glaring distractions in both legs of the Rapids-Wizards series.

BEST COACHING: San Jose coach Frank Yallop made five changes to the team that played in the first leg and he moved Jeff Agoos out of the middle to left back. Rookie Walker started up front; he set up Donovan for the second goal and headed home the third.

AMAZING MISSES: Wizards' substitute Alex Zotinca volleyed over the crossbar from three yards out, and Kansas City survived two wild goalmouth melees to frustrate Colorado.

WORST CALL: Referee Ricardo Valenzuela disallowed a tap-in by Colorado's John Spencer for a phantom foul from Wes Hart, who simply played a square ball that Diego Gutierrez and Tony Meola lunged for but couldn't reach.

Quarterfinal, second-leg summaries

Nov. 8 in Kansas City
Goals: Simutenkov 47+, Klein (Simutenkov) 63.
Att.: 10,712.
(Kansas City wins 3-1 on aggregate.)

Nov. 9 in Chicago
Goals: Ralph (Armas, Razov) 17, Razov (Beasley, Perez) 55.
Att.: 15,312.
(Chicago wins 4-0 on aggregate.)

Nov. 9 in Foxborough, Mass.
Goals: Noonan (Cancela) 21; Guevara pen. 46+.
Att.: 14,823.
(New England wins 3-1 on aggregate.)

Nov. 9 in San Jose
Goals: Ruiz (Hong) 7, Vagenas (Moreno) 13; Agoos (Ekelund) 21, Donovan (Walker, Mulrooney) 35, Walker (Mulrooney) 50, Roner (Mulrooney, Dayak) 90, Faria (Donovan, Russell) 96.
Att.: 14,145.
(San Jose wins 5-4 on aggregate.)

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