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D.C. United clinches second seed in East with draw

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Sports,D.C. United,Craig Stouffer

Red Bulls are opponent in opening round

D.C. United will enter its first postseason since 2007 as the second seed in the Eastern Conference and face archrival New York in the conference semifinals after earning a 1-1 draw at Chicago on the final day of the regular season.

The first match of the two-game, total goals series will take place Nov. 3 or 4 at Red Bull Arena in Harrison, N.J. D.C. United and the Red Bulls will return to Washington for the second leg at RFK Stadium on Nov. 7.

United (17-10-7, 58 points) avoided dropping to the fourth seed and a dreaded one-game playoff against Houston with a header by Lionard Pajoy off a cross from Branko Boskovic in the 50th minute. Former Virginia Tech standout Patrick Nyarko put the Fire ahead in the 16th minute. D.C. United goalkeeper Bill Hamid made huge saves in each half, and rookie midfielder Nick DeLeon made a goal-line clearance in second half stoppage time to preserve the result. The tie extended United's unbeaten streak to seven games since it lost playmaker Dwayne De Rosario to a knee injury in early September.

D.C. United has never lost a playoff series to New York. United's only defeat in seven postseason meetings came via shootout 6-5 after a 2-2 draw in both team's first playoff game during Major League Soccer's inaugural season in 1996. United went on to win the next two matches and claim the best-of-three series. The teams last met in the 2006 Eastern Conference semifinals, a series United won by an aggregate score of 2-1.

New York (16-9-9, 57 points) claimed the third seed with a 3-0 victory in its regular-season finale at Philadelphia. The Fire (17-11-6, 57 points) could have claimed second with a win over United but instead fell to the fourth spot and will face fifth-seeded Houston (14-8-11, 53 points) on Wednesday. The winner of that match advances to meet top-seeded Sporting Kansas City (18-7-9, 63 points) in the semifinals.

The 2012 MLS Cup will be hosted by the team with the best record left in the playoffs.

cstouffer@washingtonexaminer.com

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