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For Cancela, it's a first-time effort

FOXBOROUGH -- Revolution midfielder Jose Cancela has performed for clubs in four countries, but this is his first experience with a playoff series.

"It's new to me, but I know we have to win one more game and we play for the title," Cancela said last night after the Revolution's 1-1 tie with the MetroStars qualified them for the Eastern Conference final against Chicago. "It is important for me that we win the championship, because this is my first year in this league and I want to come back next year."

Style points

The Revolution hold a 2-1-1 season advantage over Chicago, including 3-0 and 5-1 victories at Gillette Stadium. The Fire defeated the Revolution, 3-1, in Naperville, Ill., in July, but have since returned to Soldier Field. "[The Fire are] hitting their stride, as are we," Revolution defender Jay Heaps said. "The difference in the playoffs is whoever gets a break here, a call there. We showed we were a better team than New York. We had the same lineup, while they were shifting their lineup and their style. We had the same style all the way through. We worked out our style of play during the regular season, and nothing changes on game day."

He couldn't lose

Defender Carlos Llamosa knows how to pick a winning team. Llamosa, involved in a signing dispute with Major League Soccer before the season, agreed to terms with Atletico Nacional of Colombia. But Nacional replaced coach Alexis Garcia with Juan Jose Pelaez, and the Llamosa deal ended. Llamosa then rejoined the Revolution for spring training in Brazil and has had one of his best seasons as the Revolution moved within a game of the MLS playoff semifinals. Nacional has advanced to the semifinals of the Copa Sudamericana after defeating Boca Juniors, 4-1, last week. The Boca Juniors lineup included Jonathan Fabbro, 20-year-old brother of Revolution forward Dario Fabbro.

Dropping in

Argentine striker Emiliano Romay has been training with the Revolution. Romay played for Boca Juniors and Huracan in Argentina, OGC Nice in France, Santiago Wanderers in Chile, and CD Saprissa in Costa Rica. Romay and Cancela were dropped after Mexican entrepreneur Jorge Vergara instituted a domestic-players-only policy at Saprissa . . . Uruguayan forward Claudio Ciccia, 31, who scored 41 goals last season for Cartagines in Costa Rica, is on the verge of joining an MLS team, according to his agent, Elias Soley. Ciccia's likely destination is either the Los Angeles Galaxy or San Jose Earthquakes.

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