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RFK MEMORIAL STADIUM
7:30 pm ET (FSW/E; KCAL)
D.C. United plays host to the Los Angeles Galaxy hoping they fare better this time around than they from the last visit from their West Coast rivals. In May, United was riding a three-game unbeaten streak - until a 4-2 thrashing by the Galaxy at RFK led to three losses in four starts. Now with one loss in their last five games, they host a Galaxy side holding the league's best record and unbeaten in four games, starting a four-game road swing with a scoreless draw at Colorado Rapids at midweek.
REFEREE: Kevin Stott. SAR (bench): Craig Lowry; JAR (opposite): Steve Taylor; 4th: Ben Jones
MLS Career: 103 games; FC/gm: 26.4; Y/gm: 3.4; R: 29; pens: 18
Games involving United: P24 W13 L9 T2; FC/gm: 26.0; Y/gm: 2.8; R: 9; pens: 3
Games involving Galaxy: P19 W10 L8 T1; FC/gm: 24.6; Y/gm: 3.4; R: 2; pens: 4
INJURY REPORT: D.C. UNITED - OUT: FW Thiago Martins (L lateral meniscus tear); FW Eliseo Quintanilla (R fractured fibula); PROBABLE: FW Santino Quaranta (adductor surgery) ... LOS ANGELES GALAXY - OUT: DF Danny Califf (L torn meniscus); MD Peter Vagenas (groin strain); QUESTIONABLE: MD Marcelo Saragosa (R ankle sprain)
INTERNATIONAL ABSENCES: none
SUSPENDED: LA: Chris Aloisi (through July 17)
YELLOW PERIL: DC: Dema Kovalenko (18 CP); Alecko Eskandarian (20 CP); Mike Petke (19 CP) ... LA: Paul Broome (20 CP); Ryan Suarez (8 CP in two games); Peter Vagenas (10 CP in 2 gms)
The teams meet for the third and final time this season, with United without a victory in the first two meetings.
In their last meeting, May 19 at RFK Stadium, the Galaxy saw any questions they might have had about replacing injured Carlos Ruiz answered in an eight-minute burst just before halftime, as Alejandro Moreno scored the second-fastest hat trick in MLS history - all set up by Andreas Herzog.
Moreno stabbed at a Herzog corner a couple of times before finally pushing it over the line in the 35th minute, then four minutes later, Herzog put Moreno in behind United defender Mike Petke and he raced in on United 'keeper Nick Rimando before firing home between his legs.
Then on 43 minutes, Herzog delivered a pinpoint cross to Moreno cutting through the heart of the area, the Venezuelan international deftly flicking the ball inside the back post with the outside of his right boot.
Joseph Ngwenya dove to head home a Moreno headed knockdown of a Chris Albright cross barely a minute later, but in first-half stoppage time, United pulled a goal back through a fine strike from just on the edge of the area by Ronald Cerritos.
Then in the 67th minute, after United had a goal ruled out for offside, Freddy Adu scored the second goal of his young professional career with a tremendous strike, skating through a host of Galaxy defenders in the penalty area before hitting a powerful left-footed shot high inside Kevin Hartman's right-hand post.
The eight-minute span marked the second-fastest hat-trick in MLS history, only to another Galaxy performance, when Harut Karapetyan scored three goals in five minutes in a Los Angeles 8-1 victory at Dallas on June 4, 1998. In addition, for Moreno, it was five goals on five consecutive shots (including his first two goals this season), the first player in MLS history to achieve that feat. The four goals in nine minutes were the quickest ever allowed by United.
Here's Peter Nowak's team (3-4-1-2): Nick Rimando - Bryan Namoff, Mike Petke, Brandon Prideaux (David Stokes 52) - Earnie Stewart, Brian Carroll, Dema Kovalenko, Joshua Gros - Jaime Moreno - Ronald Cerritos (Freddy Adu 60), Alecko Eskandarian.
Here the team Sigi Schmid put out (4-2-2-2): Kevin Hartman - Chris Albright, Hong Myung-Bo, Ryan Suarez, Paul Broome - Marcelo Saragosa, Sasha Victorine - Cobi Jones (Ricky Lewis 89), Andreas Herzog (Ned Grabavoy 74) - Alejandro Moreno, Joseph Ngwenya (Arturo Torres 71)
A dramatic Carlos Ruiz strike gave the teams a share of the spoils in their first meeting, the first-ever draw between the clubs in a 1-1 result at The Home Depot Center on April 10.
Substitute Ronald Cerritos opened the scoring on his first touch (68) when he sent a first-time strike past Kevin Hartman from the penalty spot. But on 85 minutes, the ever-opportunistic Ruiz latched on to a loose ball, turned away from his defender and ripped a high right-footed drive over Nick Rimando from the top of the area.
A year ago, the teams played twice, each winning on their home field. They didn't meet until the final quarter of the season, United winning 2-1 at RFK Stadium on Sept. 6 (Kovalenko 3, Olsen 29 - Serna 51). Then two weeks later the Galaxy won by the only goal in Carson, Carlos Ruiz scoring just before extra-time expired.
Four of the last five matches in the series have ended tied after 90 minutes - three before this year decided in extra-time. Both meetings in 2002 were ended with golden goals, the Galaxy's 2-1 win at home on March 23 from Ruiz, and United's 1-0 win in Washington on June 29 (Bobby Convey).
The home team won the five matches in the series before the draw this year. The Galaxy last won in Washington on July 7, 2001, United having won the last two home meetings.
Jaime Moreno's is United's all-time leader with 6 goals, 2 assists v Los Angeles (5 goals, 2 assists while with D.C.). Only two other United players have more than one goal lifetime against the Galaxy, and two are retired (John Harkes, A.J. Wood; also Ronald Cerritos).
Cobi Jones is the Galaxy's all-time leader with 4 goals, 6 assists against United. Carlos Ruiz has four goals - two of those golden goal deciders in overtime, while Alejandro Moreno is now third among current players with 3 goals, 1 assist.
Coaches record: Peter Nowak v LA: P2 W0 L1 D1 ... Sigi Schmid vs. DC: P14 W8 L5 D1
ALL-TIME (23 meetings): United 10 wins (1 shootout), 29 goals ... Galaxy 12 wins (0 shootout), 35 goals ... 1 draw
AT RFK STADIUM (12 meetings): United 6 wins (0 shootout), 19 goals ... Galaxy 6 wins (0 shootout), 21 goals ... 0 draws
Matt Taylor claimed the game's only goal in the 17th minute when he provided the final touch over the line after Davy Arnaud stripped the ball in midfield and raced into the area before letting go with a rolling shot that eluded United 'keeper Troy Perkins.
"We had a horrible first half, and we gave them a goal," defender Mike Petke said. "We picked it up in the second half, but Kansas City is a rock at home."
United coach Peter Nowak made two changes to the team that defeated the MetroStars 6-2 the previous weekend. Bobby Convey was away on U.S. national team duty, as Josh Gros came in on the left flank. Dema Kovalenko fell ill with a stomach virus before the match, meaning Freddy Adu was inserted into the starting lineup, Jaime Moreno moved into the string-pulling role in midfield.
Here's Nowak's team (3-4-1-2): Troy Perkins - Bryan Namoff (Kevin Ara 89), Ryan Nelsen, Mike Petke -Earnie Stewart, Brian Carroll, Ben Olsen (Ezra Hendrickson 85), Joshua Gros - Jaime Moreno - Freddy Adu (Brandon Prideaux 71), Alecko Eskandarian
"I think it was our worst performance since I got here," Nowak said. "There's no excuse. Our passing, our crossing, there's not too much to say. There was a lot of heart out there, but the mentality, we can't just show up and think we are going to win. We forget to see what brought us to this place, all the little things."
On Wednesday, United played host to English first division side Nottingham Forest, winning the friendly on penalties after a 1-1 draw through 90 minutes. Ezra Hendrickson gave United the lead after just nine minutes, rising up to head home a corner kick, but Andy Reid stunning drive from all of 30 yards gave Forest a 32nd minute equalizer.
United coach Peter Nowak gave Freddy Adu a full 90 minutes for the first time during the actual MLS season, and took the opportunity to play many reserves.
"This was a very good game for us. It was a different kind of play which is good to play against at this time of the season. Many of the guys were able to get some good playing time," Nowak said.
Here's the team Nowak played: Nick Rimando, David Stokes (Alecko Eskandarian 46), Brandon Prideaux, Ezra Hendrickson, Kevin Ara, Earnie Stewart (Bryan Namoff 46), Brian Carroll (Ben Olsen 46), Joshua Gros, Dema Kovalenko (Santino Quaranta 66), Freddy Adu, Jaime Moreno (Mike Petke 46)
D.C. United fell out of first place in the Eastern Conference as they fell 1-0 to the Kansas City Wizards at Arrowhead Stadium last weekend. The result left United with 20 points from 16 matches, two points behind the MetroStars in the East, just a point ahead of third place Columbus Crew with the top four teams still separated by just five points.
LOS ANGELES GALAXY
Each goalkeeper stood tall for a half in keeping honors even as the Galaxy and Rapids met for the second time in five days, after Los Angeles claimed a 2-0 victory in the first game of the home-and-home series.
Rapids 'keeper Joe Cannon twice stopped ace marksman Carlos Ruiz in the first half - with Ruiz also putting a shot over the bar when well placed early - as the Galaxy owned the opening 45 minutes.
But it was Los Angeles 'keeper Kevin Hartman's turn after the break, twice stopping Chris Henderson then making a remarkable stop on a diving header from Mark Chung 16 minutes from time. Hartman was then bailed out by the woodwork in added time after fluffing a punch on a flighted free kick.
"We weathered the storm and had some chances, especially in the first half," Hartman said. "I don't think we let one get away at all. All in all, it was a good effort."
Galaxy coach Sigi Schmid made two changes to the team that defeated the Rapids on Saturday at The Home Depot Center, as he came closer to his first-choice XI. Chris Albright returned from international duty to come in at right back for Chris Aloisi, while Andreas Herzog returned from suspension to resume his attacking midfield role in place of Guillermo Gonzalez.
Here's Schmid's team (4-3-1-2): Kevin Hartman - Chris Albright, Ryan Suarez, Tyrone Marshall, Paul Broome - Cobi Jones (Alejandro Moreno 66), Sasha Victorine, Ned Grabavoy (Chris Aloisi 79) - Andreas Herzog (Joseph Ngwenya 66) - Jovan Kirovski, Carlos Ruiz.
"It was just one of those games. Usually, the altitude does not impact us, but today it did. That being said, we are still pleased to come out of here with a zero-zero tie," Schmid said.
It was only the second time in league history that a team posted two shutouts against the same opponent within five days. Coincidentally, the Galaxy were on the receiving end the first time, when David Kramer and the San Jose Earthquakes recorded back-to-back shutouts Sept. 16-20, 1998.
"We expected them to push forward more than they did on Saturday. We also thought that it would give us chances to counter attack. It did in the first half, however, we didn't do as well as we could have to finish those chances," Schmid said.
The game began a month-long road swing for the Galaxy, who will play their next three matches away from The Home Depot Center. A year ago, after starting the season with an eight-game road swing, the Galaxy failed to win a single match on their travels, eventually going 19 road matches in a row without a victory.
The Los Angeles Galaxy extended their winning streak to four games and extended their lead atop the Western Conference to three points after playing to a scoreless draw with the Colorado Rapids on Wednesday in Denver. The Galaxy own the best record in the league with 31 points from 18 matches, with the Kansas City Wizards in second place three points adrift.