United, Fire open playoffs tonight

D.C. United opens the playoffs on the road tonight against the Chicago Fire, with the return leg of the home-and-home, total-goals series in Washington on Oct. 30. The mission is to return to the MLS Cup, scheduled for Nov. 13 at FC Dallas' new stadium in Frisco, Texas. United wasn't the favorite a year ago, but it won its fourth league title - and first since 1999 - by peaking at the right time. After needing a few months to adjust to first-year coach Peter Nowak, the team put together a late-season run that culminated in a 3-2 victory over Kansas City in the title game. Nowak called Freddy Adu a dangerous scorer, but that's probably not enough to get the 16-year-old into the starting lineup tonight. Rather than choose an inconsistent youngster, the coach is more likely to go with Jaime Moreno and Santino Quaranta up front and Dema Kovalenko, Brian Carroll, Christian Gomez, Ben Olsen and Joshua Gros in midfield - with up-and-coming Jamil Walker the first option off the bench.


Cyclist will regain bronze medal

Colombian cyclist Maria Luisa Calle will get back the Olympic bronze medal taken away for a failed drug test, the Court of Arbitration for Sport ruled. Sport's highest court overturned her disqualification from the 2004 Athens Games by the International Olympic Committee.

Skiing -- World Cup champion Bode Miller said that he will race in the Turin Olympics this winter, and also took another opportunity to campaign publicly for legalized doping in sports.

Figure skating

Takahashi leads men's short program

Japan's Daisuke Takahashi fell on a triple axel, but was so lively and precise on his other elements that he took first place with 69.10 points in the short program at Skate America in Atlantic City, N.J. Belgium's Kevin Van Der Perren, the only skater to land a clean quadruple jump, was second with 68.79, and Evan Lysacek, the world bronze medalist, trailed in third at 67.75.

College basketball

NCAA to study new dimensions

The NCAA said that it will continue to study new dimensions for the three-point line, a wider lane and a restricted-area arc during certified men's tournaments such as the Maui Invitational. In men's basketball, the lane would be widened by a foot rather than the 1 1/2 feet used last season. The arc will be drawn 3 feet from the center of the basket, a foot farther than last season, and the three-point line will be 20 feet, 9 inches - a foot longer than the current three-point line. The experimental rules could help determine whether permanent rules changes will be implemented in future seasons.

Kentucky -- Coach Tubby Smith - who has remained mostly mum about sophomore center Randolph Morris' ill-fated attempt to enter the draft while the NCAA considers his eligibility status - said he expected the 6-foot-10 Morris will play for the Wildcats during the season. "We fully expect him to be back at some point when the NCAA finishes their job [ruling on his eligibility]," Smith said. "Everything has been documented and processed on our side, and we'll wait for the NCAA to finalize their decision."

Pro basketball

Wizards defeat Bobcats in OT

Gilbert Arenas scored 24 points, Chucky Atkins and Jared Jeffries each had 18 and the Washington Wizards scored the first nine points of overtime in a 96-89 exhibition victory over the Charlotte Bobcats in Los Angeles. Atkins and Caron Butler, who were traded to Washington by the Los Angeles Lakers in August for Kwame Brown and Laron Profit, won in their return to Staples Center.


Bradley's mascot bid rejected by NCAA

The NCAA has rejected Bradley University's bid to be taken off a list of colleges whose American Indian nicknames, mascots and logos will be banned in postseason play starting next year. An NCAA staff review committee ruled that the Braves nickname creates an atmosphere that can be abusive to Native Americans.

Volleyball -- Maryland (18-1 , 9-1 ACC) and North Carolina (13-6, 8-1), the top two volleyball teams in the ACC, will meet tonight at 7 at Comcast Center Pavilion.

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