Earthquakes, Galaxy advance to MLS Cup

Posted: Thursday, October 18, 2001

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. (AP) -- Troy Dayak couldn't have found a better opportunity to score his first goals of the playoffs.

The San Jose defender broke through Miami's backline and headed in a shot in the 94th minute to give the Earthquakes a 1-0 victory over the Fusion on Wednesday night and advanced them to their first MLS Cup.

The Earthquakes advanced to Sunday's championship game in Columbus, Ohio, against the Los Angeles Galaxy, who beat the Chicago Fire in the other semifinal series.

Miami won the opening game of the semifinal series, but San Jose evened it with a 4-0 victory Sunday. The second win gave them six points in the first-to-five points format.

''If my year ended today, I'd take it,'' Dayak said. ''This has been a Cinderella season for the team but a miracle season for me.''

A member of the Earthquakes since the team's inaugural season in 1996, Dayak missed the last two seasons with a serious neck injury.

He headed in a loose ball past Fusion goalkeeper Nick Rimando after Richard Mulrooney's corner kick caromed off Fusion defender Carlos Llamosa.

''Just before the goal Dwayne told me, 'You're going to be the man,''' Dayak said, referring to teammate Dwayne DeRosario. ''You can't imagine how thrilled I am right now.''

Earthquakes coach Frank Yallop said: ''This team has been beaten down so many times. Winning tonight proves how special these players are. They understood the difficulty of defeating a very good team on their home field but responded with tremendous effort.''

A target of the Fusion defense for the entire match, Earthquakes forward Landon Donovan was just as comfortable in celebrating Dayak's game-winner than if he had scored it.

''We didn't leave anything out there,'' Donovan said. ''Both teams wanted it so much but we pushed harder. This is the happiest day of my life.''

The Earthquakes dominated play for most of the match but couldn't get a shot past Rimando.

Miami played a man down after the ejection of midfielder Ian Bishop in the 82nd minute and couldn't mount a serious scoring threat for most of the second half.

A header by Llamosa -- the Fusion's best scoring chance in the second half -- was deflected by goalkeeper Joe Cannon in the 55th minute.

In the first half, Miami had its best scoring threat in the 15th minute, when Chris Henderson's 30-yard shot was stopped with a diving deflection by Cannon.

San Jose began to control the ball in the final 20 minutes of the first half as the Fusion cleared balls away from the box. Rimando denied the Earthquakes' best scoring opportunity with a diving save off Richard Mulrooney's indirect free kick from 20 yards.

''I'm very proud of my boys, it just wasn't in the stars,'' Miami coach Ray Hudson said.

Galaxy 2, Fire 1, OT

CHICAGO -- Mauricio Cienfuegos scored in the eighth minute of overtime and Los Angeles advanced to the MLS Cup. It was Chicago's first playoff loss at Soldier Field in the team's four-year history.

The Galaxy needed only to tie the Fire to get the one point they needed in the first-to-five points series. Danny Califf took care of that, scoring in the 44th minute to make it 1-1.

But Cienfuegos gave the Galaxy the win when he took a crossing pass from Brian Mullan and shot left-footed from about 35 yards out.

DaMarcus Beasley gave the Fire the lead in the 30th minute when he took a crossing pass from Chris Armas, dribbled and then shot from about 15 yards out.

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