Chicago sticks it to Metros, 3:0
September 26, 2000 (Official Game Summary)

Chicago MetroStars

09.26.00 · Playoff

Hristo Stoitchkov and Dema Kovalenko each had a goal and an assist as Chicago routed the MetroStars 3-0 Tuesday night in Game One of an MLS Cup 2000 Semifinal series. Fire goalkeeper Zach Thornton made eight saves, several in spectacular fashion on his way to recording a well-earned shutout.

Chicago got on the board in the 21st minute when Kovalenko took a feed from DaMarcus Beasley down the right wing and ran into position to shoot. The midfielder instead drove a curling pass through a pair of Metros' defenders, and past a diving Paul Grafer, right to Stoitchkov at the back post. The Bulgarian legend held off Metros' defender Mike Petke and tucked in his third goal of the postseason.

Kovalenko put the Fire up 2-0 in the 35th minute. Fire midfielder Chris Armas won a ball in the center of the field and sent teammate Jesse Marsch down the right wing. Marsch's cross deflected off Metros defender Lothar Matthaus right to Kovalenko who easily buried his third playoff goal from 10 yards out.

The MetroStars had numerous chances to score throughout the contest, only to be thwarted by the efforts of Thornton. The veteran goalkeeper's best stop came in the 20th minute, when he dove to his left to just get a hand on a Clint Mathis blast from 23 yards out that curved around a wall and seemed destined for the upper corner.

Thornton also stopped Adolfo Valencia on two clear chances in the box (57th and 76th minutes), and stoned Tab Ramos twice as well (18th and 81st minutes). The one ball that did get past Thornton, a Petke header in the 60th minute, was cleared off the line by a well-positioned Armas at the right post.

Chicago found an insurance goal in the 84th minute. Diego Gutierrez chipped a short pass down the left-sideline for Beasley. The 17-year-old sped down the wing, dribbled around Grafer, and crossed for Ante Razov who tapped into an empty goal to make it 3-0. Razov has three goals in three playoff games.

Lineup: Grafer, Matthaus, Petke, Jolley, Walsh, Dooley, Villegas, Chung, Ramos, Mathis, Valencia. Subs: Myers, Comas, Shak.

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