Posted: Sunday November 09, 2003 03:54 PM
NAPERVILLE, Illinois (Ticker) -- The Chicago Fire posted a dominating 2-0 victory over D.C. United in Game Two of their Eastern Conference semifinals at Soldier Field.
Forwards Ante Razov and Damani Ralph, who led the Fire in scoring during the regular season, scored both goals as Chicago won by an aggregate score of 4-0 following their 2-0 win in Game One on November 1 at RFK Stadium. The Fire, the top seed in the East, improved their all-time home playoff record to 12-1-1.
Chicago, which has captured the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup championship and the 2003 Supporters' Shield with the league's best regular-season record, is one step away from advancing to MLS Cup 2003. The Fire are looking to become the first team to capture all three honors in one season.
D.C. United needed to win by at least two goals to force a tie on aggregate goals and a 30-minute extra-time period. However, the visitors did not succeed in creating many attacks in the first half and a goal in the 17th minute by Ralph deflated United's spirits.
After a quiet start to the game by both teams, Ralph's strike was a sudden spark in the match as he received the ball from 20 yards out, pulled a fake on D.C. defender Ryan Nelsen and blasted a right-footed shot into the top right corner. For Ralph, a rookie who turned 23 on Thursday, it was his first career postseason goal and his first tally in MLS play since September 13.
Razov notched his 10th career postseason goal in the 55th minute, making the score 2-0. Fire midfielder DaMarcus Beasley chased a long ball down the left flank by Orlando Perez and lofted a cross into the box. The ball bounced once past United defender Ryan Nelsen and Razov was right behind him to nod the ball off the bounce past goalkeeper Doug Warren.