Gaven 19, Taylor 63).
United then won twice in three weeks to take a psychological advantage against the Metros in the Eastern Conference semifinals. United won 1-0 on Oct. 2 at Giants Stadium on a 16th-minute goal from Freddy Adu, then two weeks later claimed a 3-2 victory at RFK Stadium (Gomez 23, 29; Petke 64 - Wolyniec 14, Clark 50).
That set the stage for the home-and-home Eastern Conference semifinals, which United won 4-0 on aggregate, posting 2-0 victories in each half of the tie. United won 2-0 on Oct. 23 in New Jersey (Stewart 67, Eskandarian 88), then a week later won by the same scoreline in Washington (Moreno 85, Namoff 89) on their way to the MLS Cup Final.
United reclaimed the Atlantic Cup last year in the third season it was contested for. United won in the first year of 2002, the MetroStars claiming the trophy the next season. Goal difference is the first tie-breaker, followed by away goals; if still tied, the MetroStars (as holders) will retain the cup.
Last year was the second time United had met the MetroStars in the first round of the playoffs, and the second time United eliminated their I-95 rivals. In the inaugural season of 1996, United advanced when they won their best-of-3 series 2-1.
United have won the season series two of the last three years. The MetroStars have won just once in the last seven meetings between the clubs.
Coaches record: Bob Bradley v DC: P20 W8 L9 T3 ... Peter Nowak v MET: P4 W3 L1 T0
A Galaxy side hit with numerous absences to injury and international duty saw a late MetroStars goal leave the teams sharing the spoils in a 2-2 draw, the visitors continuing their outstanding road form.
Abbe Ibrahim gave the MetroStars a lead after just five minutes, left free at the top of the six and allowed a clear header as a corner dropped right to him.
But then Cobi Jones - allowed to return to the Galaxy after having been earlier called in for the USA's World Cup qualifier against Costa Rica on Saturday - created a pair of goals within a quarter-hour. First Jones burst through on the right, and as he tried to push the ball past Zach Wells was tripped up by the MetroStars keeper. Jovan Kirovski neatly converted from the spot (19).
Then Jones gave the home side the lead with a wonderful goal. A long angled ball from all of 60 yards from left back Todd Dunivant found Jones on the right, and he hit a sublime side-foot first-time volley from the corner of the area over Wells and inside the far post.
But after the break the MetroStars pulled level as they still have just one loss on their travels. A neat pass from Mark Lisi split open the Galaxy defense, Sergio Galvan Rey running onto it before curling a shot past Kevin Hartman inside his left-hand post for the equalizer (72). The Galaxy haven't beaten the MetroStars in the last seven meetings between the clubs.
MetroStars head coach Bob Bradley made three changes from the team that claimed a dramatic 2-1 victory against the Chicago Fire at home the previous Tuesday. Jeff Agoos came back into the team in central defense for Carlos Mendes, while Mark Lisi also returned to the first XI as Eddie Gaven left to join the U.S. U-20 national team. Youri Djorkaeff was out injured, meaning John Wolyniec returned to the lineup in attack.
Here's Bradley's team (4-4-2): Zach Wells - Chris Leitch, Jeff Parke, Jeff Agoos, Tim Regan - Michael Bradley, Mark Lisi - Mike Magee, Amado Guevara - Abbe Ibrahim (Sergio Galvan Rey 46), John Wolyniec.
"We wanted to come in and push the tempo a little bit and it's something we've tried to do in every game lately," Metros coach Bob Bradley said. "We were able to get pretty good movement. We've found a good way of moving. Those things shouldn't change as much when you're missing players."
The MetroStars saw their unbeaten run extended to three matches, coming back to claim a 2-2 draw with the Los Angeles Galaxy at The Home Depot Center last Saturday. The MetroStars are in fourth place in the Eastern Conference with 16 points from 11 matches, one behind the Kansas City Wizards but four ahead of D.C. United, six points out of first place.
On Tuesday, the MetroStars acquired forward Ante Razov from the Columbus Crew for John Wolyniec and a portion of an allocation.
"John's been a terrific guy since Day One here," MetroStars coach Bob Bradley said. "Whether as a starter or a reserve, he gives everything he has -- every game, every training session. In all those ways, he'll be missed. You couldn't have a better pro."
But Razov and Bradley have a history together as well, the former U.S. international having played for his for three seasons with the Chicago Fire. "We still feel strongly that Ante brings some qualities that will help us be a better team. So we end up making a decision based upon that."
The MetroStars came away with the points despite the major losses in the creation of attacking chances. Gaven could be gone for up to a month, and Djorkaeff is still hobbled with the injury suffered midweek against the Chicago Fire. "It's definitely tough for us in losing (Gaven and Djorkaeff). I think we all stepped up. We're just trying to get numbers forward. We're getting guys checking back in, guys are making long runs and we're looking underneath," Magee said. "I think if you look at our tape, we weren't doing those things early in the season. It was disappointing to go down 2-1 but we still felt we could win."
The Earthquakes played to a scoreless draw for the second consecutive home match though they remained unbeaten at home on the season as both teams struggled to maintain any attacking flow.
The home side nearly gave away a goal in the opening minute on an errant back pass, but like nearly every quality chance on the night, it missed the target as neither 'keeper was really tested on the night - though San Jose defender Eddie Robinson did slide in to deflect a shot from United's Ben Olsen that seemed sure to find the back of the net.
"I think the team played very organized today and pretty compact and shouldered in hard. This is what I expect of them. It was a pretty competitive game. In a game like this, one goal can decide the game. Unfortunately today we had those chances, but we didn't put it in," United boss Peter Nowak said.
Nowak made two changes to the team that lost 2-0 to FC Dallas the previous weekend at RFK Stadium. Joshua Gros returned from suspension for Freddy Adu on the right flank, as Adu left to join the U.S. U-20 national team. Santino Quaranta came into attack for Alecko Eskandarian.
Here's Nowak's team (3-4-1-2): Nick Rimando - Bryan Namoff (John Wilson 74), Bobby Boswell, Brandon Prideaux - Joshua Gros, Brian Carroll, Ben Olsen, Dema Kovalenko (Alecko Eskandarian 79) - Christian Gomez - Santino Quaranta (Jamil Walker 85), Jaime Moreno.
"I think we made progress from last week. The soccer part was pretty good, we had many chances but we didn't finish in the final part of the field, especially in the first half. In the second half we had a couple of great chances. But as I said, the progress has been made and we have to continue to work this way," Nowak said.
D.C. United were shutout for the second consecutive match and for the fifth time in eight games but still came away with a share of the points, playing to a scoreless draw with the San Jose Earthquakes at Spartan Stadium last Saturday night. United are in fifth place in the Eastern Conference with 12 points from 10 matches, two ahead of the Columbus Crew but four behind the fourth-place MetroStars, 10 out of first place.
Santino Quaranta started up top in place of Alecko Eskandarian. After coming on as a substitute, Eskandarian saw a ninth consecutive appearance without a goal. "It was a fun game to play in, and for me coming back and starting, it was a thrill. I tried to make the best of it and tried to make everyone around me better. I was just trying to make these guys trust me again. I think I'm gaining their trust every day in training, so I'm just going from there," Quaranta said.
Although coming away with only a tie, Nowak was pleased with how his team responded after the loss to FC Dallas. "(San Jose is) a pretty experienced team, especially at home. They put on a lot of pressure because of this field, but our movement of the ball was pretty good and we closed all the zones to make sure we were going to make it difficult for them. So as far as that, we're looking pretty good, pretty organized."
Still, United knows they need to begin to put together some wins to keep pace in the East. "We came out to San Jose wanting three points. Guys fought hard. We thought we did well, we pressed them high like we wanted to. We had our chances, but we just couldn't finish, so we ended up with a tie. They had some opportunities, especially late in the game. They had a free kick that was dangerous and they did a good job of getting a piece of it, but it fell right into my hands."