- The Washington Times - Saturday, November 8, 2008

It would be refreshing to see some new faces at the MLS Cup on Nov. 23, and things will be different this year.

The injury-plagued New England Revolution, runners-up the past three years, won’t return to the MLS Cup after the Chicago Fire dispatched them 3-0 Thursday. It marked the first time in seven years that the Revolution have not reached the Eastern Conference final.

Meanwhile, four teams still in the race for the title - Real Salt Lake, Chivas USA, the New York Red Bulls and the Columbus Crew - have never reached the final.

Chicago will play the winner of the Kansas City Wizards-Columbus series, which is tied 1-1, in the conference final. Columbus claimed the best record in the regular season this year, and Crew coach Sigi Schmid has plenty of championship-game experience. Schmid led the Los Angeles Galaxy to three MLS Cups and won the title in 2002.

In the Western Conference, the two 2005 expansion teams - Real Salt Lake and Chivas USA - will battle it in Carson, Calif., on Saturday. Chivas, with forward Alecko Eskandarian back in the lineup, lost 1-0 at Utah on a last-minute goal by striker Yura Movsisyan in the first game of the series.

On Sunday, the two-time defending champion Houston Dynamo host the Red Bulls at Robertson Stadium - where the Dynamo have never lost in postseason play. The series is tied 1-1, but the Red Bulls have won just one road game all year. Expect Houston, led by U.S. national team striker Brian Ching (13 goals), to advance to the conference final.

United notes - D.C. United owners Victor MacFarlane and Will Chang told fans in a letter Friday they will become more active in the team and assume the titles of co-executive chairmen. They also announced that team club president Kevin Payne, general manager Dave Kasper and United head coach Tom Soehn will return.

“Kevin Payne remains president and is directly responsible for the business operations of D.C. United and as stated above will report directly to us,” the letter stated. “Kevin will also assist in the oversight of the team operations, provide his advice and be part of the decision-making process on player selection and other aspects of that area of our business. However, the primary responsibility and accountability will be with general manager Dave Kasper, who will also report directly to us. Tommy remains the coach of the team.”

United ended the season with a 11-15-4 record and failed to make the playoffs for the first time since 2002. …

United midfielder Ivan Guerrero has been called up to join the Honduras national team to play a World Cup qualifier against Mexico in San Pedro Sula, Honduras, on Nov. 19.

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