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Valencia finds net in final seconds, MetroStars take 2-1 win over Dallas.

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (Friday, September 15, 2000) -- Striker Adolfo Valencia scored with seconds remaining in sudden death to give the MetroStars a dramatic 2-1 victory over Dallas in the opening game of a Major League Soccer quarterfinal series before 14,868 at Giants Stadium tonight.

The MetroStars picked up the first three points in the series and can eliminate the Burn with a victory in Game 2 at the Cotton Bowl Wednesday night. The Burn must earn at least a tie to force a deciding third match

Valencia, who had been contained by the Burn defense all night, took a feed from Clint Mathis at the top of the penalty area and spun around on Dallas defender Richard Farrer. Valencia then dribbled around Lazo Alavanja to the center of the box and slotted the golden goal past goalkeeper Matt Jordan just inside the left post in the 100th and final minute of play.

"It was a great pass from Mathis. I knew that there was less than a minute left and just turned on the defender quick. It was not an easy goal," Valencia said. "This goal was for all the fans that come and watch us play. I hope this pushes toward making the MLS Cup."

Mathis put the third-seeded MetroStars ahead 1-0 in the 34th minute. Midfielder Petter Villegas bent a corner kick into the box, where defender Mike Petke rose to knock the ball down directly to Mathis at the six yard-line where he tapped the ball through a crowd and past Jordan.

Mathis has scored seven goals against Dallas in three games this season, including an MLS-record five goals against the Burn in Dallas on August 26.

Sixth-seeded Dallas had knotted the game at 1-1 in the 67th minute. Striker Ariel Graziani sent a curling ball into the box to an unmarked Bobby Rhine. The Burn forward took a touch to settle and easily put the his second goal of the year into the upper-left hand corner.

The Burn came up empty on a penalty kick 12 minutes before Rhine's goal. MetroStars defender Lothar Matthaeus clipped down Burn midfielder Antonio Martinez in the 55th minute, but MetroStars keeper Paul Grafer dove left to smother midfielder Oscar Pareja's attempt.

"I don't think he hit the PK as well as he wanted and I pretty much guessed right," Grafer said. "I have to give all the credit to my defense tonight. They left very little work for me to do in the back."

After Rhine's tying goal, both sides had chances to pickup a second goal in a fast-paced second half finish. Dallas best opportunity came from midfielder Chad Deering, who one-timed a rocket from 30 yards out just over the crossbar. The Metros best shot came from midfielder Tab Ramos, who sent a free kick from 25 yards out around a wall and just wide of the right side post.

The first half was extremely physical, possibly setting a tone for the entire series. The teams combined for 41 fouls and four yellow cards.

The MetroStars defense, which yielded 14 goals over the last four regular season games, held the Burn without a shot on goal in the first half.

The MetroStars put the clamps on Graziani for most of the night. The Ecuadorian led all scorers in the 1999 MLS playoffs with five goals in six games.

"We kept fighting and always felt like we could win this game," Ramos said. "I know we need to improve, but this win does a lot for us in the hunt to reach the Cup final."

MetroStars 2, Dallas Burn 1 (OT)

Lineups: MetroStars - Paul Grafer, Steve Jolley, Lothar Matthaus, Mike Petke, Mark Chung, Billy Walsh, Tab Ramos, Petter Villegas, Roy Myers (Alex Comas 94), Clint Mathis, Adolfo Valencia. Dallas - Matt Jordan, Eric Dade, Ricardo Iribarren (Richard Farrer 58), Jorge Rodriguez, Mark Santel (Sergi Daniv 68), Oscar Pareja, Antonio Martinez (Lazo Alavanja 80), Chad Deering, Jason Kreis, Bobby Rhine, Ariel Graziani.

Scoring:
MetroStars - Mathis (Petke, Villegas) 34.
Dallas - Rhine (Graziani, Santel) 67.
MetroStars - Valencia (Mathis) 100.

Total shots: MetroStars 12 (Mathis 2), Dallas 11 (Graziani 3). Shots on goal: MetroStars 6 (Mathis 2), Dallas 3 (Rhine 2). Saves: MetroStars - Grafer 1; Dallas - Jordan 3. Fouls: MetroStars 21 (Ramos 4, Jolley 4), Dallas 20 (Iribarren 3, Pareja 3). Offside: MetroStars 4, Dallas 7. Corner kicks: MetroStars 4, Dallas 3. Yellow card cautions: MetroStars - Petke 4, Myers 81, Walsh 95; Dallas - Iribarren 31. Possession percentage: MetroStars 46, Dallas 54.

Referee: Marcel Yonan. Referee's assistants: Tom Bobadilla, George Vergara. Attendance: 14,868 at Giants Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J. Weather: Clear, 68 degrees.


Chicago Fire 2, New England 1

CHICAGO -- Dema Kovalenko scored to cap a second-half comeback for the Chicago Fire which knocked off the New England Revolution 2-1 in their playoff quarterfinal opener before 10,476 at Soldier Field.

The series now moves to the Revolutionís Foxboro Stadium where the Revolution must win or tie to force a third game in Chicago The Revs might be without rookie defender Rusty Pierce who was forced to leave the game in the 30th minute with an apparent hamstring injury.

The game-winner came on Kovalenkoís well-placed shot in the 73rd minute. Forward Ante Razov played the early ball to midfielder Hristo Stoitchkov, who instantly switched the point of attack with a one-touch pass to a streaking Kovalenko on the left flank. Outpacing the defense, Kovalenk, who led the Fire in the regular season with 10 goals, beat Causey low to the far post with a crisp shot.

The Fire drew even at 1-1 in the 54th minute after Mauricio Wright inadvertently put the ball past his keeper Jeff Causey in an attempt to clear Peter Nowak's drive cross from inside the penalty area. Rising above the Fire offense, Wright got his head on the ball, but it dipped below the crossbar to erase the Revolution lead.

New England scoring leader Wolde Harris struck in the 50th minute, giving the Fire a 1-0 lead. Harris tried to split the defense with a quick step-over move, but central defender C.J. Brown stripped the ball from the Jamaican forward. Attempting to move the ball out of the back, Brown's touch failed him as a charging Imad Baba dispossessed him on the edge of the penalty area and immediately played the ball through to Harris inside the box. Harris' close-range shot was partially deflected by Chicago's Tom Soehn, who came sliding in an attempt to defuse the situation. The sudden redirection caught goalkeeper Zach Thornton out of position and the ball found the inside of the far post.

Chicago 2, New England Revolution 1

Lineups: Chicago - Zach Thornton, Tom Soehn, C.J. Brown, Carlos Bocanegra, Mike Sorber, Jesse Marsch, DaMarcus Beasley (Diego Gutierrez 86), Dema Kovalenko, Peter Nowak, Hristo Stoitchkov (Sam George 93+), Ante Razov. New England - Jeff Causey, Rusty Pierce (Eric Wynalda 35), Mauricio Wright, Adam Eyre, Leonel Alvarez, Joe Franchino, Imad Baba, Ted Chronopoulos, John Harkes, Wolde Harris, William Sunsing (Johnny Torres 86).

Scoring:
New England - Harris (Baba) 50.
Chicago - own goal (Wright) 54.
Chicago - Kovalenko (Stoitchkov, Razov) 73.

Total shots: Chicago 8 (Stoitchkov 2, Kovalenko 2), New England 6 (Harris 2, Harkes 2). Shots on goal: Chicago 5 (Stoitchkov 2), New England 2 (Harris 2). Saves: Chicago - Thornton 1; New England - Causey 3. Fouls: Chicago 13 (Kovalenko 3, Razov 3), New England 18 (seven players with 2). Offside: Chicago 2, New England 1. Corner kicks: Chicago 6, New England 1. Possesion percentage: Chicago 52, New England 48.

Referee: Tim Weyland. Referee's assistants: Greg Barkey, Richard Huber. Attendance: 10,476 at Soldier Field in Chicago. Weather: Windy, Brisk, 61 degrees, partly cloudy.

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