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MLS Conference Finals

Thursday, November 13, 2008

At Stake: Berth in MLS Cup, Nov. 23 at Home Depot Center in Carson, Calif.

EASTERN

Columbus Crew

vs. Chicago Fire

Where: Columbus Crew Stadium.

When: Today, 7:30 p.m.

TV: ESPN2.

Outlook: The Crew, which won the Supporters' Shield with the most points in the regular season, is seeking the first trip to MLS Cup in its 13-year history, while the Fire is pursuing its fourth in 11 years and first since 2003. The teams played to a pair of 2-2 ties in league play and Chicago won a U.S. Open Cup meeting, 3-2. Columbus is 9-1-3 in the past 13 games and 12-2-2 at home overall. The Fire and Crew were the only teams to have winning road records during the regular season.

Prediction: Chicago, 2-1, in overtime.

WESTERN

Real Salt Lake

vs. New York Red Bulls

Where: Rio Tinto Stadium,

Sandy, Utah.

When: Saturday, 9:30 p.m.

TV: Fox Soccer Channel, HDNet.

Outlook: After first-round upsets, the conference's lowest seeds meet for what will be the first MLS Cup appearance for either club. Fourth-seeded New York, a wild-card team that was moved into the Western bracket, is coming off a stunning, 3-0 road victory over two-time defending champion Houston. In the regular season, New York defeated third-seeded RSL, 2-1, at Giants Stadium and, a month later, earned a 1-1 tie in the inaugural match at Real's new, 20,000-seat stadium.

Prediction: Real Salt Lake, 1-0.

-- Steven Goff

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