Fire 3, MetroStars 0
CHICAGO (AP) _ Dema Kovalenko had a goal and an assist Tuesday night as the Chicago Fire beat the New York-New Jersey MetroStars 3-0 in the opener of their MLS semifinal series.
The best-of-3 series continues Saturday night at the Meadowlands. Game 3, if needed, would be back in Chicago on Friday, Oct. 6.
Chicago, which has never lost a home playoff game in three years, dominated the first half. Standing just left of the net, Hristo Stoitchkov took a long pass from Kovalenko in the 21st minute and easily beat goalie Paul Grafer, who was out of position. It was Stoitchkov’s third goal in four playoff games.
Fourteen minutes later, Kovalenko took a ball bouncing off a defender’s leg and scored from about 10 yards out, putting Chicago ahead 2-0.
In the 84th minute, DaMarcus Beasley passed up a shot from the left side of the net, instead passing to Ante Razov, who scored his third goal and notched his 10th point of the playoffs.
Zach Thornton posted his second shutout of the playoffs. He had eight stops, including sprawling back-to-back saves on close-range shots in the 69th minute.
The Fire and MetroStars combined for nine goals in two regular-season games they split.
Both teams were playing without two Olympians. Tim Howard and Ramiro Corrales of the MetroStars, and Josh Wolff and Evan Whitfield of the Fire should be back for Game 3, if it is necessary.