Revolution, United wage East battle
one of four against their I-95 rivals in that span. "I think we all started believing in our chances of doing this whole thing," midfielder Ben Olsen said. Added striker Alecko Eskandarian: "After the first game, when we beat San Jose, the defending champion, we all knew we had a championship-caliber team. And then, late in the season, when we started to put those wins together, that was when we really figured out the system that we were playing."
NEW ENGLAND REVOLUTION
Goalkeeper Matt Reis was the hero of the Revolution's second leg win, becoming the first 'keeper in MLS Cup Playoffs history to save two penalties in one game. He's gained considerable attention this year after taking over for the injured Adin Brown, but ended the year starting in 23 matches. "I always looked at him as the starter, because when I got here Adin was injured," goalkeeper coach David Vanole said. "He was the defensive player of the tournament when we won the NCAAs in 1997 (at UCLA)." ... While Reis was a starter for much of 2001 and 2002 with the Los Angeles Galaxy, his first postseason starts have come this year. He was the reserve 'keeper to Kevin Hartman when the Galaxy defeated New England in MLS Cup 2002. ... Revolution boss Steve Nicol said he is likely to change little from the Eastern Conference Semifinal series against the Crew. Nicol went to a 3-5-2 scheme for the first game which he maintained to open the return match, but that became a 4-5-1 (with Taylor Twellman the lone striker and Pat Noonan in a wide left role) as the Crew were forced to chase the game in the second half. "We are not going to just turn up in D.C. and win the game. D.C. is different than Columbus and they are a lot more dynamic team at home," Nicol said. "All of our games with them have been close. We have to do the same thing we did against Columbus. We have be solid and tight and play the game in their half." ... Despite the two vital suspensions in the United side, Nicol expects his side will be under pressure early. "It's up to us early on to try to kill the game a little bit and then get on with our stuff," Nicol said. "... The team they'll put out will be a good team. Are they going to be as strong as they would with those guys in the lineup? Probably not. But there will be 11 guys turning up on each side and whoever you pick, if they do their stuff and don't make mistakes, will have a good chance to win the game."