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MLS Conference Finals Preview Capsules

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Thursday, November 8, 2007

EASTERN CONFERENCEChicago Fire at New England Revolution

Where: Gillette Stadium, Foxborough, Mass.

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When: Tonight, 7:30 p.m.

TV: ESPN2.

Records: Fire 11-10-11, Revolution 15-8-9.

How They Got Here: Chicago upset D.C. United, 3-2, on aggregate in a two-game, first-round series. New England defeated the New York Red Bulls, 1-0, on aggregate.

Season Series: Chicago won twice at home, New England won once at home.

Outlook: The Revolution, which has yet to win an MLS title, is appearing in the Eastern final for the sixth consecutive year. The key against the Fire is containing Cuauht¿moc Blanco, the ornery midfielder with a masterful passing touch. Shalrie Joseph, MLS's premier defensive midfielder, will inherit those responsibilities. Chicago has not lost in MLS since Sept. 1, a 4-0-6 run that included a 2-1 home victory over New England on Oct. 6. Chicago's defense showed cracks during the second half of the first-round clincher against United last week, but has conceded two goals in a game only twice during its unbeaten streak.

Prediction: Chicago, 2-1, in overtime.

WESTERN CONFERENCEKansas City Wizards at Houston Dynamo

Where: Robertson Stadium, Houston.

When: Saturday, 8:30 p.m.

TV: Fox Soccer Channel.

Records: Wizards 12-12-8, Dynamo 16-8-7.

How They Got Here: Kansas City upset Chivas USA, 1-0, on aggregate. Houston defeated FC Dallas, 4-2, on aggregate.

Season Series: Houston won at home, tied on the road.

Outlook: The Wizards are actually from the Eastern Conference, but because of MLS's creative playoff format, they were shifted to the Western side. Despite their low seed, the Wizards' first-round triumph was not a huge surprise given Chivas's injury problems. Nonetheless, they have been able to turn things around after a 3-7-2 to end the regular season. Houston presents a balanced attack and an experienced defense, anchored by goalkeeper Pat Onstad, as it pursues a second consecutive league title. The Dynamo, however, has not been invincible at home and might encounter problems against Wizards forward Eddie Johnson.

Prediction: Houston, 2-0.

-- Steven Goff

MLS CUP

Where: RFK Stadium. When: Nov. 18, noon. TV: ABC, Telefutura. Tickets: $30-$75, available at Ticketmaster outlets, mlsnet.com and stadium box office.


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