Clean sweep: United defeat Wizards
D.C. United faced a familiar opponent in the Kansas City Wizards, and they picked up a familiar result. Facing their Eastern Conference rival for already the fourth time this season -- and second time in four days -- United notched a 3-2 win, their fourth victory against the Wizards, Wednesday night at Arrowhead Stadium.
United swept the season series, outscoring the Wizards 9-4 in the four matches. They also extended their undefeated run to 10 matches and lengthened their advantage atop the East to 15 points.
United took a two-goal lead after 16 minutes, through an own goal and the first goal of the season from Freddy Adu. Nick Garcia pulled a goal back for the Wizards by the 10th minute, but Christian Gomez restored the advantage five minutes after halftime. Jose Burciaga scored a late penalty kick for the final margin.
United dominated the match, through their front-running trio of Adu, Gomez and Jaime Moreno, and the league leaders in scoring didn't take long to open their account.
In the fifth minute, Gomez hit a precise, floating corner kick into a group of several United players, where rookie Devon McTavish went up with Wizards defender Jimmy Conrad. The ball appeared to come off the U.S. World Cup defender into the back of the net and was officially ruled an own goal. It was the fifth goal to come off a set piece by United against the Wizards this season.
Adu then weaved his way through the Wizards to extend United lead's in the 16th minute. After displaying a number of step-overs he hit a wicked curling shot from 18 yards out on the right flank that slipped inside the far post past Wizards 'keeper Will Hesmer. It was Adu's first goal in 2006 after numerous close calls; he leads MLS with three shots off the woodwork this season.
Garcia scored his first career goal off a rebound in the 20th minute. The goal came in his 181st career match, all with the Wizards -- a scoreless span that had extended into his seventh season with the club. It's also just short of the longest streak of games in MLS history without having scored a goal, as United defender Brandon Prideaux, currently out with injury, has played 181 games in his MLS career without scoring.
United put together a dazzling display of teamwork in the 50th minute to pad their lead to 3-1. Adu took the ball deep in the midfield corner and fed the ball to Moreno. Moreno then crossed the ball against the grain to a streaking Gomez, who pounded it past Hesmer.
It was a textbook goal that displayed speed, timing, and crisp passing, and Hesmer had little chance to save the effort with two attackers bearing down on him. It was the second career start for the young 'keeper, his first start coming June 10 against the Columbus Crew.
The insurance goal proved to be a necessary one. In the 72nd minute, United goalkeeper Troy Perkins conceded a penalty kick with a reckless foul. Rushing out of the net in an attempt to stop a chip by Wizards forward Ryan Pore, the two tumbled to the turf, and Perkins appeared to make no attempt to avoid contact with Pore. Referee Brian Hall immediately pointed to the spot and showed the yellow card to Perkins for the foul.
Burciaga hit the resulting spot kick like a pinball. The ball bounded off one post and across to the other before settling inside the net for his fourth goal in the last five games, but it wasn't enough to stop the United run against the Wizards.
Thomas Foote is a contributor to MLSnet.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Soccer or its clubs.