A-LEAGUE WEEK 19 WRAP: El Paso, Vancouver & Portland join playoff field

JUST ONE SPOT LEFT: The Milwaukee Rampage's 6-1 win over Cincinnati on Tuesday night qualified El Paso and Vancouver for the A-League playoffs, and Portland clinched last weekend. With Seattle, Minnesota and Milwaukee, the Western Conference's six-team postseason field is complete. The rest of the regular season, which ends Sept. 2, will determine the seedings.

Toronto and Charlotte remain in a battle for the sixth and final playoff spot from the Eastern Conference, where Charleston, Rochester, Montreal, Richmond and Atlanta have clinched.

MINNESOTA READY FOR BASEBALL STRIKE. The Minnesota Thunder is reaching out to baseball fans as Friday's deadline for a Major League Baseball strike looms.

The Thunder has announced a ''Walk-In'' ticket discount for its game against the Milwaukee Rampage in Blaine, Minn., on Friday. When a future 2002 Minnesota Twins ticket stub is presented, a 50 percent discount will be given. (Tickets regularly go for $8 to $14 dollars.)

The baseball fans will be directed to the ''Twins Fan Section,'' where a Thunder staff coach will explain the nuances of soccer. The Thunder is also organizing a sing-along of ''Take Me Out to the Soccer Game'' for halftime. Plus, three fans will have a chance to win a Mercedes-Benz by throwing a baseball at a soccer goal.

''We are hoping baseball fans look at this as a way to display their sentiment on the players' possible walkout,'' said Thunder GM Jim Froslid. ''Nobody in Minnesota, including the Thunder, want to see the Twins end their magical season.''

The game will be televised live on Fox Sports World at 8:30 ET and could decide the Central Division championship. Minnesota will be without the services of midfielder Mike Gentile and defender Steve Shak due to suspension.

LONG ISLAND TAKES IN D3 TITLE. The Long Island Rough Riders defeated the Wilmington Hammerheads, 2-1, in the D3 Championship game last Saturday. The game was a sellout (5,768) at Legion Stadium in Wilmington, N.C. Derrick Etienne scored the gamewinner in the 82nd minute.

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