By Steven Goff

Format: Home-and-home first-round series, with the team scoring the most total goals advancing to the conference finals.

In the case of an overall tie following the second game, a 30-minute overtime period (no sudden death) will be played.

If no one scores, penalty kicks will determine the winner. Each one-game conference final will be played Nov. 5 or 6.

MLS Cup is scheduled for Nov. 13 at Pizza Hut Park in Frisco, Tex.

United vs. Fire

When/Where: 9 p.m. tonight, Soldier Field, Chicago.

TV: Comcast SportsNet.

Radio: WMET-1160 (English), WACA-1540, WYSK-1350, WKDV-1460, WLXE-1600 (Spanish).

D.C. Probable Starters (3-5-2 formation): GK Nick Rimando; Ds Bryan Namoff, Facundo Erpen, Brandon Prideaux; MFs Josh Gros, Brian Carroll, Ben Olsen, Christian Gomez, Dema Kovalenko; Fs Santino Quaranta, Jaime Moreno.

Chicago Probable Starters (3-5-2): GK Zach Thornton; Ds C.J. Brown, Jim Curtin, Gonzalo Segares; MFs Logan Pause, Chris Armas, Thiago, Justin Mapp, Ivan Guerrero; Fs Chris Rolfe, Nate Jaqua.

Second Leg: Oct. 30, RFK Stadium, 4:30 p.m. (ESPN2).

Records: United 16-10-6, Fire 15-13-4.

Season Series: United won, 2-1-1.

Top Scorers: United F Jaime Moreno (16 goals, 7 assists), Fire F Chris Rolfe (8 goals, 5 assists).

Of Note: United's all-time playoff record is 22-6-1, but it is 0-3-0 against the Fire. The losses came in the 1998 final and a pair of first-round games in 2003, which included the only home playoff loss in club history.

Prediction: United (4-3 aggregate score).

New England Revolution vs.

N.Y./N.J. MetroStars

Tomorrow, Giants Stadium, 7 p.m.

Oct. 29, Gillette Stadium, 8 p.m.

Records: Revolution 17-7-8, MetroStars 12-9-11.

Season Series: Revolution won, 2-1-1.

Top Scorers: Revolution F Taylor Twellman (17 goals, 7 assists), MetroStars MF Amado Guevara (11 goals, 11 assists).

Of Note: The MetroStars, who have never been to MLS Cup, went 2-0-1 down the stretch under interim coach Mo Johnston to sneak into the playoffs. The Revolution started 7-0-4 and stayed in first place most of the season.

Prediction: Revolution (on 4-2 aggregate).

San Jose Earthquakes vs. Los Angeles Galaxy

Sunday, Home Depot Center, 3 p.m. (ESPN2)

Oct. 29, Spartan Stadium, 10 p.m.

Records: Earthquakes 18-4-10, Galaxy 13-13-6

Season Series: Earthquakes won 3-1-0.

Top Scorers: Earthquakes MF Dwayne De Rosario (9 goals, 13 assists), Galaxy F Landon Donovan (12 goals 10 assists).

Of Note: San Jose, a two-time champion, ran away in the West after finishing with a 14-game unbeaten streak, which began after a 3-0 loss to United on July 15. The Earthquakes are 9-0-7 at home, the Galaxy 3-10-3 on the road.

Prediction: Earthquakes (on 4-1 aggregate).

FC Dallas vs. Colorado Rapids

Tomorrow, Invesco Field, 9 p.m.

Oct. 29, Pizza Hut Park, 8:30 p.m.

Records: FC Dallas 13-10-9, Rapids 13-13-6

Season Series: Dallas won, 2-0-2.

Top Scorers: Dallas F Carlos Ruiz (11 goals, 2 assists), Rapids F Jeff Cunningham (12 goals, 3 assists).

Of Note: Dallas started 10-2-3, followed that with an 0-3-5 skid and ended by going 3-3-3 to stumble into the playoffs. F Eddie Johnson is sidelined with a foot injury and the enigmatic Ruiz has missed recent practices for undisclosed reasons.

Prediction: Dallas (on 3-1 aggregate).

United forward Jaime Moreno.Fire goalkeeper Zach Thornton.