MLS Cup Playoff pairings are set

The dates for the first round of the MLS Cup Playoff Conference Semifinals are now set following the nationally televised 2004 Major League Soccer regular season finale between D.C. United and the MetroStars on Sunday. The 3-2 victory by D.C. United (42 points) at RFK Stadium allowed Peter Nowak's team to overtake the MetroStars (40 points) for second place in the Eastern Conference, securing home field for Game 2 of the home-and-home, aggregate goal Eastern Conference Semifinal series against the same MetroStars.

MetroStars midfielder Amado Guevara (10 goals, 10 assists for 30 points), who came on at the start of the second half of Sunday's game, did not figure in the scoring thus failing to break a tie with New England Revolution forward Pat Noonan (11 goals, 8 assists for 30 points) in the Budweiser Scoring table. Both players will share the crown awarded to the player with the highest point total at the end of the regular season (two points for a goal and one point for an assist). It marks the first time in MLS history that the Budweiser scoring title is shared and the lowest point total to ever secure the honor in League history:

Budweiser Scoring Champions

1996: Roy Lassiter (Tampa Bay) - 58 points (27 goals, 4 assists)

1997: Preki (Kansas City) - 41 points (12 goals, 17 assists)

1998: Stern John (Columbus) - 57 points (26 goals, 5 assists)

1999: Jason Kreis (Dallas) - 51 points (18 goals, 15 assists)

2000: Mamadou Diallo (Tampa Bay) - 56 points (26 goals, 4 assists)

2001: Alex Pineda Chacon (Miami) - 47 points (19 goals, 9 assists)

2002: Taylor Twellman (New England) - 52 points (23 goals, 6 assists)

2003: Preki (Kansas City) - 41 points (12 goals, 17 assists)

2004: Amado Guevara (MetroStars) & Pat Noonan (New England) - 30 points

U.S. National Team forwards Brian Ching (San Jose Earthquakes) and Eddie Johnson (Dallas Burn) also finished tied atop the goal-scoring charts with 12 goals apiece. Both players scored on Saturday when their teams met at the Cotton Bowl in a game that ended 2-2, giving the fourth and final MLS Cup Playoff spot in the Western Conference to the defending champion Earthquakes as the Burn missed out on the postseason for the second consecutive year.

Four teams qualified for the postseason from both the Eastern and Western Conference, advancing to the home-and-home, aggregate goal MLS Cup Conference Semifinals (No. 1 vs. No. 4 and No. 2 vs. No. 3). The two teams left standing after the two-game Conference Semifinals will meet in a Conference Championship at the home of the higher seed with the winners of each advancing to MLS Cup 2004 at The Home Depot Center on Nov. 14 (live on ABC Sports at 3:30 p.m. ET). The following is the final schedule for the Conference Semifinal matchups in both conferences:

EASTERN CONFERENCE SEMIFINALS

COLUMBUS CREW (No. 1) vs. NEW ENGLAND REVOLUTION (No. 4)
Game 1: Columbus Crew at New England Revolution - Saturday, Oct. 23 @ 7:30 p.m. ET

Gillette Stadium - Foxboro, Massachusetts

TV: TBD

Game 2: New England Revolution at Columbus Crew - Sunday, Oct. 31 @ 5 p.m. ET

Columbus Crew Stadium - Columbus, Ohio

TV: ESPN2

D.C. UNITED (No. 2) vs. METROSTARS (No. 3)
Game 1: D.C. United at MetroStars - Saturday, Oct. 23 @ 7:30 p.m. ET

Giants Stadium - East Rutherford, New Jersey

TV: TBD

Game 2: MetroStars at D.C. United - Saturday, Oct. 30 @ 7 p.m. ET

RFK Stadium - Washington, D.C.

TV: TBD

WESTERN CONFERENCE SEMIFINALS

KANSAS CITY WIZARDS (No. 1) vs. SAN JOSE EARTHQUAKES (No. 4)
Game 1: Kansas City Wizards at San Jose Earthquakes - Sunday, Oct. 24 @ 5 p.m. ET

Spartan Stadium - San Jose, California

TV: ESPN2

Game 2: San Jose Earthquakes at Kansas City Wizards - Saturday, Oct. 30 @ 8:30 p.m. ET

Arrowhead Stadium - Kansas City, Missouri

TV: TBD

LOS ANGELES GALAXY (No. 2) vs. COLORADO RAPIDS (No. 3)
Game 1: Los Angeles Galaxy at Colorado Rapids - Friday, Oct. 22 @ 9:30 p.m. ET

Invesco Field at Mile High - Denver, Colorado

TV: KWHY (tape delay at 11:00 p.m. ET)

Game 2: Colorado Rapids at Los Angeles Galaxy - Saturday, Oct. 30 @ 10 p.m. ET

The Home Depot Center - Carson, California

TV: TBD

Individual tickets are on sale for MLS Cup 2004 (via Ticketmaster or by calling 1-800-366-8652) at the following prices: $55 (sidelines), $40 (corners), $32 (upper deck) and $28 (goal line). More information on individual tickets and group sales is available by contacting the Los Angeles Galaxy toll-free at 1-877-3GALAXY or visiting www.lagalaxy.com.


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