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MetroStars use tallies by Chung, Valencia to force semifinal rubber match, defeating Chicago 2-0.

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (Saturday, September 30, 2000) -- The MetroStars forced a third and deciding game of their Major League Soccer semifinal playoff series, using goals by Mark Chung and Adolfo Valencia and the goalkeeping of Mike Ammann to blank the Chicago Fire 2-0 before 15,476 tonight at Giants Stadium.

Ammann, who made a dramatic return to the MetroStars goal after suffering broken ribs and a punctured lung in August, turned away three Fire shots to preserve his clean sheet.

The two teams are knotted at three points apiece after two games, sending the series back to Soldier Field in Chicago for a winner-take-all Game 3. The winner of Friday’s 8 p.m. (ET) match -- televised on ESPN -- advances to the MLS Cup final at RFK Stadium in Washington, D.C., on October 15th. If the two teams tie, a 20-minute golden-goal overtime will be played to determine the victor.

"We worked hard to get home-field advantage and Game 3 is at our place and we are looking forward to it," Chicago coach Bpb Bradley said. "We have to play focused in that game. We hoped to finish [the series] tonight, but we couldn't get it done."

Chung netted the game-winner in the 40th minute, hammering a loose ball past keeper Zach Thornton from the top of the penalty area. Chung received a cross at the top of the box from forward Alex Comas and launched a hard shot toward goal. Valencia inadvertently cut in front of the shot, however, sending the ball back to Chung who teed the ball up a second time and scored.

Neither side was able to generate a consistent attack in the opening 45 minutes as frequent fouls and tight man-marking disrupted the flow of the offense. The MetroStars did manage to test Thornton a handful of times, however, before Chung was able to put the Metros up 1-0.

Chung had the best chance for the MetroStars in the 23rd minute, coming in from the flank to hammer a shot inside of the far post, but Thornton dove out to deflect the shot, allowing defender Tenwya Bonseu to safely clear the ball away. Defender Lothar Matthaeus also forced a diving save from Thornton in the 31st minute, sending a dangerous curling ball from the edge of the penalty area.

The game opened up in the second half, allowing the hungry Chicago attackers the freedom to test Ammann. Ante Razov took a quick stab at the ball in the 77th minute, forcing Ammann to stretch out to turn the ball away. Moments later Hristo Stoitchkov's right-footed shot resulted in an acrobatic stop that belied Ammann's long layoff.

Valencia put the game out of reach in the 84th minute, burying the insurance goal, after beginning a rush with a pass to Clint Mathis, who was assuming the role of injured playmaker Tab Ramos. As Mathis attempted to break into the area, Valencia knifed in unmarked. Mathis threaded the ball to the streaking Colombian who beat Thornton to the far post to make the final score 2-0.

MetroStars 2, Chicago Fire 0

Lineups: MetroStars - Mike Ammann, Steve Jolley, Lothar Matthaus, Mike Petke, Mark Chung, Billy Walsh, Petter Villegas, Clint Mathis, Roy Myers (Mark Semioli 77), Alex Comas, Adolfo Valencia (Steve Shak 89). Chicago - Zach Thornton, C.J. Brown (John Wolyniec 80), Carlos Bocanegra, Tenywa Bonseu, DaMarcus Beasley, Diego Gutierrez, Chris Armas, Jesse Marsch (Mike Sorber 61), Dema Kovalenko, Hristo Stoitchkov, Ante Razov.

Scoring:
MetroStars - Chung (unassisted) 40.
MetroSatrs - Valencia (Mathis) 84

Total shots: MetroStars 19 (Valencia 5), Chicago 15 (Stoitchkov 7). Shots on goal: MetroSatrs : 8 (Valencia 2, Chung 2, Comas 2), Chicago 6 (Stoitchkov 2, Razov 2). Saves: MetroStars - Ammann 3; Chicago - Thornton 4. Fouls: MetroStars 23 (Valencia 5), Chicago 17 (Gutierrez 4). Offside: MetroStars 4, Chicago 1. Corner kicks: MetroStars 8, Chicago 5. Yellow card cautions: MetroStars - Petke 5, Mathis 13, Comas 36, Valencia 59; Chicago - Gutierrez 17, Marsch 37. Possession percentage: MetroStars 49, Chicago 51.

Referee: Ricardo Valenzuela. Referee's assistants: George Vergara, Roger Itaya. Attendance: 15,476 at Giants Stadium in east Rutherford, N.J. Weather: Clear, 64 degrees, 41 percent humidity.

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