FOXBOROUGH -- The Revolution are remaining faithful to this season's theme. They rallied in the late going again last night, scoring three times in a 15-minute span to overcome a one-goal deficit -- and a two-goal series deficit -- to defeat the MetroStars, 3-1, at Gillette Stadium.
Substitutes Jose ''Pepe" Cancela and Khano Smith were involved in all the Revolution goals. Cancela scored in the 68th minute and curled a corner kick for Pat Noonan to head in at the 73d-minute mark, and Smith finished the scoring with a solo run 10 minutes later. The Revolution and MetroStars have played six times this year, five of the matches have been decided on goals from the 83d minute on.
''I have been saying all year we have some depth and each one of the guys who came in had a point to prove to me and everyone else," said Revolution coach Steve Nicol, whose team will meet Chicago or D.C. United in the Eastern Conference final next Sunday afternoon at Gillette Stadium. ''The contributions each of them made were huge. We were playing well but it was going to take something from somebody to spark everyone else and Pepe created the spark when he came on."
The MetroStars won the opener of the total-goal series, 1-0, and extended their advantage in the 59th minute last night. Youri Djorkaeff provided the two-goal series lead with a precise finish on a counterattack, just seconds after the Revolution's Clint Dempsey hit the left post.
Cancela replaced Daniel Hernandez in the 62d minute and provided a threat with his creativity in midfield and on set pieces. Six minutes after entering the match, Cancela advanced on the right side of the penalty area, took a ball chested down by Taylor Twellman, and scored with a low shot.
A Cancela free kick led to a Revolution corner in the 72d minute, Cancela sending the kick to the far post, where Noonan outmaneuvered Michael Bradley after the ball had sailed over Tony Meola, providing the Revolution with a 2-1 lead and tying the goal total.
In the 83d minute, Smith took a pass on the left wing from Dempsey and powered past Eddie Gaven, slamming the shot from the edge of the goal area into the far side of the net for a 3-1 lead and one-goal overall advantage. The Revolution then went into a defensive mode, holding off the MetroStars with a man disadvantage for nearly nine minutes of injury time after Smith sustained a hyperextended knee in the 90th minute.
''I just came in and tried to help my teammates," Cancela said. ''The situation was not favorable. But the most important thing was to contribute and get the win.
''I am here to train and get ready for the game and be available if I am needed. It is not a matter of proving anything to anybody."
The match was played in cold, wet conditions, much of the field covered by a light snowfall. The Revolution attempted to exploit the situation early by pressuring the MetroStar defenders; the strategy nearly paid off several times in the first half. Noonan's left-footer off a Dempsey layoff in the 35th was tipped away by Meola, negating the best chance of the first half, though the Revolution also disputed a non-call on a handball in the penalty area by Jeff Agoos in the 30th minute.
The Revolution increased their pressure in the second half, and as the field dried, were able to develop a passing game. The MetroStars were content to counter, taking the initiative as Sergio Galvan Rey chipped forward, Michael Parkhurst misplaying the ball, then recovering too late as Djorkaeff placed a shot to the left of goalkeeper Matt Reis.
But the MetroStars nearly scored again during injury time. Shalrie Joseph cleared a Djorkaeff header off the line, the ball bouncing back to Djorkaeff and just past the right post.
''I knew we wouldn't give up but I would be lying to you if I said I thought we would win, 3-2, on aggregate," Nicol said of the two-goal deficit. ''We kept plugging away and putting them under pressure. To be honest, I don't think we got a break all night.
''Everyone worked their socks off and we deserved the win."