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United takes series lead

United midfielder Dema Kovalenko shields the ball from MetroStars defender Tim Regan during the second half of Saturday's playoff game.
United midfielder Dema Kovalenko shields the ball from MetroStars defender Tim Regan during the second half of Saturday's playoff game.
Bill Kostroun, Associated Press

Earnie Stewart and Alecko Eskandarian scored in the second half, and D.C. United beat the MetroStars 2-0 Saturday night in East Rutherford, N.J., to take a commanding lead in their first-round playoff series.

D.C. will host the second game of the home-and-home, total-goals series next Saturday.

The 35-year-old Stewart, one of eight players to earn 100 caps for the U.S. national team, scored his first MLS playoff goal in the 67th minute. He took a 50-yard pass from Ryan Nelsen, came in alone against goalkeeper Jonny Walker and fired a high shot to the left corner of the goal.

Eskandarian, who grew up 15 miles from Giants Stadium in Montvale, put the game away in the 88th minute with a strong shot from 18 yards out that eluded both Walker and MetroStars defender Jeff Parke.

The MetroStars, who have lost four straight to United, controlled the game early, but D.C. goalkeeper Nick Rimando kept his team in the game with several fine saves, including one on a free kick by Amado Guevara in the 39th minute.

Walker made several acrobatic saves for the MetroStars, taking Dema Kovalenko's shot to the face in the 27th minute and stopping a header by Nelsen in the 56th.

Freddy Adu missed his first game of the season with a shoulder injury.

REVOLUTION 1, CREW 0: At Foxboro, Mass., Avery John scored his first career goal in the 25th minute to help the New England Revolution snap the Columbus Crew's 18-game unbeaten streak in the opening round of the MLS playoffs.

New England, which entered the postseason at 8-13-9, handed Columbus its first loss since June 26. The second game of the two-game, total goals series is Oct. 31 in Columbus.

John sent a left-footed shot from 25 yards into the top left corner of the net, catching Columbus goalkeeper Jon Busch by surprise.

Columbus, the Eastern Conference champions, almost evened the score in the final seconds of the first half, but New England goalkeeper Matt Reis tipped away a direct kick in stoppage time.

During the second half, Columbus had two more scoring chances. Reis stopped a shot by Kyle Martino in the 77th minute. Then in the 88th minute, Frankie Hejduk sent a shot just wide of the post.

New England had lost twice and tied two games against Columbus during the regular season.