Conference Semifinals


Eastern Conference

Miami vs. D.C.

Miami at D.C., today, 7:30 p.m.

D.C. at Miami, Oct. 24, 1 p.m.

Miami at D.C., Oct. 27,

7:30 p.m.*

Records: United 23-9, 57 points; Fusion 13-19, 29 points.

Season Series: United won all four games.

Top Scorers: United -- F Roy Lassiter (18 goals, 11 assists), F Jaime Moreno (10, 13); Fusion -- MF Henry Gutierrez (6 goals, 14 assists), F Welton (8, 7).

Analysis: With big disparity in records, United should cruise. But D.C. has not played well in recent weeks and may have trouble with Miami attack, led by U.S. World Cup veteran Eric Wynalda. United must get improved production from Lassiter, who's been missing target lately.

Prediction: United in two games.

Tampa Bay vs. Columbus

Tampa Bay at Columbus, Sunday,

3 p.m.

Columbus at Tampa Bay, Friday,

7 p.m.

Tampa Bay at Columbus, Oct. 27, 7:30 p.m.*

Records: Crew 19-13, 45 points; Mutiny 14-18, 32 points.

Season Series: Tampa Bay won three of four.

Top Scorers: Crew -- F Stern John (18 goals, 2 assists), F Jeff Cunningham (12, 5); Mutiny -- F Raul Diaz Arce (13 goals, 7 assists), F Musa Shannon (12, 5).

Analysis: Mutiny's imposing attack of Diaz Arce, Shannon, Carlos Valderrama, Steve Ralston, Manny Lagos and Mauricio Ramos will cause problems for Crew's mediocre defense. Columbus also has several threats and will need big performances from John and striker Brian McBride.

Prediction: Crew in three games.

Western Conference

Chicago vs. Dallas

Chicago at Dallas, today,

5 p.m.

Dallas at Chicago, Oct. 23,

8 p.m.

Chicago at Dallas, Oct. 27, TBA*

Records: Burn 19-13, 51 points; Fire 18-14, 48 points.

Season Series: Teams split four games.

Top Scorers: Burn -- MF Jason Kreis (18 goals, 15 assists), MF Chad Deering (4, 7); Fire -- F Ante Razov (14 goals, 7 assists), MF Peter Nowak (6, 8).

Analysis: This promises to be the best first-round matchup, pitting confident Dallas against defending champion Chicago, with perhaps the most intriguing individual matchup -- MVP candidate Kreis vs. Chris Armas, MLS's top defensive midfielder. Fire's experience may be difference.

Prediction: Fire in three games.

Colorado vs. Los Angeles

Colorado at Los Angeles, Sunday, 7:30 p.m.

Los Angeles at Colorado,

Oct. 24, 3 p.m.

Colorado at Los Angeles,

Oct. 27, TBA*

Records: Galaxy 20-12, 54 points; Rapids 20-12, 48 points.

Season Series: Teams split four games.

Top Scorers: Galaxy -- MF-F Cobi Jones (8 goals, 8 assists), MF Mauricio Cienfuegos (3, 17); Rapids -- F Jorge Dely Valdes (10 goals, 6 assists), F Wolde Harris (8, 8).

Analysis: All it may take for Galaxy to advance is one goal in each game, because Colorado has gone scoreless in the last 5 games for an MLS-record 499 straight minutes without a goal. Galaxy F Carlos Hermosillo (strained quadriceps) is questionable.

Prediction: Galaxy in two games.

* if necessary