Work in Sports
FORT LAUDERDALE, Florida (Ticker) -- D.C. United advanced to the Eastern Conference finals for the fourth time in as many seasons as Roy Lassiter scored the winning shootout goal in a 1-0 victory over the Miami Fusion.
The United, who won the first two MLS crowns before losing to Chicago last year, will face Columbus for the right to go to the finals for the fourth straight season.
D.C. got an early lift in the shootout with a goal from Marco Etcheverry. Fusion goalkeeper Jeff Cassar stopped the next two attempts before surrendering goals to Diego Sonora and Lassiter.
In the clubs' last playoff meeting in Game Two of the 1998 conference semifinals, Lassiter was ejected in the third minute. That game also went to the shootout, which the United won to capture the series.
Miami managed goals from Jim Rooney and Saul Martinez, but Tom Presthus' save on Tyrone Marshall gave United the 3-2 shootout win and the Fusion their fourth consecutive playoff defeat.
The United, who improved to 3-1 in postseason shootouts, swept the best-of-three series, winning 2-1 last Saturday.
Miami created the most dangerous chances in regulation. In the 25th minute, Eric Wynalda and Welton broke free behind the defense, but a last-second diving save by Presthus kept the Fusion off the board.
Wynalda's passing also sprang teammates Saul Martinez and Edwin Gorter, but Prethus was able to answer in each case.
The game took a dramatic turn in the 35th minute, when Miami's Henry Gutierrez and United's Richie Williams were shown the red card for ungentlemanly conduct, leaving each side with only ten players.
The two exchanged words in response to a Pablo Mastroeni tackle on Lassiter, and the confrontation quickly escalated. Referee Ricardo Valenzuela promptly booked the players and restarted play.
MLS Cup '99 is Sunday, November 21 at Foxboro Stadium. It will be televised live on ABC at 1:30 p.m. EST.
Los Angeles will play either Chicago or Dallas in the Western Conference finals.