D.C. hosts K.C. in vital Cup rematch

a double from Alecko Eskandarian (19, 23) and an Alex Zotinca own goal (28) nosed United in front. Josh Wolff scored from the penalty spot (58) after Dema Kovalenko was sent off for an intentional handball, but United held out for their first MLS title.

  • United's victory in the first league meeting a year ago was their first in seven meetings between the teams, since a 2-1 win on April 20, 2002. They've now won two of the last four, with one draw.
  • The Wizards have not lost in the last five meetings between the teams at Arrowhead Stadium, four wins followed by this year's draw. United's last win at K.C. came April 7, 2001, a 3-2 triumph.
  • Coaches record: Peter Nowak v KC: P4 W2 L1 T1 ... Bob Gansler vs. DC: P17 W5 L7 D5

    D.C. UNITED

    D.C. United won for the third time in four matches, getting a little good fortune in claiming a 1-0 victory against the Columbus Crew at Crew Stadium on Saturday night. United are now tied for third place in the Eastern Conference with the Kansas City Wizards, both teams on 22 points (though United's 15 matches are one fewer), the clubs 10 points behind the first-place tie between the New England Revolution and Chicago Fire.

  • D.C. United hadn't won a game in Columbus in almost exactly five years, and in the first half the Crew seemed certain to be ready to extend that streak when John Wolyniec was bundled over in the box. But United 'keeper Nick Rimando flew to his right to turn aside the resulting penalty from Mario Rodriguez.
  • Then United were grateful to accept a little more good fortune. A poor clearance from a Jamil Walker attempt at goal fell right to Christian Gomez's feet in the area, and he tried to drive a pass to the opposite post. But Crew center back Chad Marshall stepped in and saw the ball bounce off his leg into the back of the net for the match-winner (64).
  • United coach Peter Nowak made one change to the team that fell just short in a 4-3 loss to the Chicago Fire the previous Wednesday at Soldier Field. Freddy Adu made his fifth start of the season, his first since May 28, coming into the heart of midfield for Clyde Simms.
  • Here's Nowak's team (3-4-1-2): Nick Rimando - Brandon Prideaux, Bobby Boswell, John Wilson - Dema Kovalenko (Clyde Simms 82), Freddy Adu (David Stokes 46), Brian Carroll, Joshua Gros - Christian Gomez - Nana Kuffour (Jamil Walker 60), Jaime Moreno
  • "It's behind us (the penalty kick call). Nicky [Rimando] made a great save. He was outstanding today, excellent," said Nowak. "The back line did a pretty job in the second half. We gave too much space in the first half. The second half was much, much better. We moved the ball well. Nicky was very active and vocal."

    TEAM NEWS

  • United's last win in Columbus came on July 7, 1999 - almost exactly six years earlier to the day. In their previous meeting in Columbus this season, the Crew were on the winning side of a 1-0 result.
  • "The last time we played here we were unlucky. Sometimes soccer works this way. The most important part is that we keep ourselves in the game and think that we can win the game and get the three points. Some of the situations in the first half weren't pretty and I was concerned about that. We made adjusts during halftime and I think our team played very well in the second half."
  • After making a first start since returning from the World Youth Championships, Adu lasted just the first half before he was taken off for David Stokes.
  • "I felt like we left too much space in the middle. We had Christian [Gomez] and Freddy [Adu] and actually we didn't do a good job with that, so I decided to move Dema [Kovalenko] to the middle and David [Stokes] to the right side," said Nowak. I think Dema did very well. We have options with Clyde [Simms], but he got hurt in training yesterday."
  • United and the MetroStars were then involved in a little brouhaha over Adu. New MetroStars president and general manager Alexi Lalas told The New York Times: "The MetroStars would love nothing more than to have Freddy Adu. He would certainly play in New York. It's evident that he loves competition and wants to play, and we are certainly a team that would provide him with time on the field. I would love nothing more than for him to get fed up with D.C. Right now, I think the situation is a little like a Bruce Lee movie without a fight. He's got the star power, but there hasn't been the payoff."
  • United president Kevin Payne complained to MLS Commissioner Don Garber and e-mailed his concerns to the MetroStars and AEG. ""I've made my position pretty clear," said Payne. "I think it's difficult for everybody. It was unconstructive, it was inappropriate, it wouldn't happen in other leagues and it shouldn't happen in our league. We all need to remember that we're in the professional sports business. This isn't a carnival.
  • "He's staying here, he's going to develop here," he said. "We're pleased with his development, (and) he's going to get better. I think that the level of expectations that have been placed on this kid by adults, by many people who don't know anything about our sport, are unrealistic and unfair. I think that the adults involved in this whole drama need to start acting more adult."
  • United striker Alecko Eskandarian could be suffering from post-concussion syndrome after missing the last two matches. He has been unable to participate in full training this week, but could be available for the Wizards match.

    KANSAS CITY WIZARDS

    The Kansas City Wizards saw their recent barren run continue, now with just one win over their last seven matches after the Colorado Rapids came back to claim a 2-1 victory on their Independence Day extravaganza in Denver. The Wizards are now tied for third place in the Eastern Conference with D.C. United with 22 points (though United have a match in hand), both clubs 10 behind joint leaders New England Revolution and Chicago Fire.

  • Although the host Rapids had won eight of their nine previous Fourth of July matches at home - and often with late heroics - the Wizards got off to the best possible start when Chris Klein took a pass on the right and let fly with a screaming blast from just outside the area that bounced off the underside of the crossbar and into the back of the net.
  • But after the break the Rapids continued their run of form on the holiday with two goals in four minutes. First, Eric Denton swung in a corner to the near post where Alain Nkong fought off his defender and send a downward header homeward (57).
  • Then four minutes later Terry Cooke hit a free kick that took a slight deflection off the wall, but it was enough to wrong-foot Wizards 'keeper Bo Oshoniyi and sneak past into the net.
  • Wizards boss Bob Gansler made two changes to the team that came back to claim a 1-1 draw with the Columbus Crew at midweek at Arrowhead Stadium. Preki made his second start of the campaign, coming into the midfield as Sasha Victorine moved back to right back, Alex Zotinca returning to the substitutes' bench. Ryan Pore also made his second start, coming into attack for Davy Arnaud.
  • Here's Gansler's team (4-4-2): Bo Oshoniyi - Sasha Victorine, Nick Garcia, Shavar Thomas, Jose Burciaga Jr. - Preki (Jack Jewsbury 67), Diego Gutierrez, Kerry Zavagnin, Chris Klein - Ryan Pore (Davy Arnaud 53), Scott Sealy
  • "We talked about playing two good halves and we asked them to go out and play like the way we usually do in the second half right off the bat. I think we did that and got an early goal and got some opportunities, but then we allowed them to get into the game too much and specifically there were too many restarts; we gave them too many corners and too many free kicks. With time they are going to utilize those," Gansler said. "We talked about [it] at halftime and we said 'One goal won't do it, so let's start out again and get that second goal, and then we can utilize the ball and make them chase.'"

    TEAM NEWS

  • After the match, Gansler said his side gave up too many free kicks in dangerous places. "It's really about the psychological impact," Gansler said. "On that first one they scored, they're a man down and they were throwing everything forward. For sure, their chins came up even more and our daubers went down. Then we were unfortunate in our second goal. Diego is our chaser, and it hits and deflects and goes in."
  • But Chris Klein was concerned about the team's reaction after the half. "We had a 1-0 lead at halftime and we [were] a man up and talked about coming out and dictating the pace of the game. And when we came out in the second half they dictated the pace of the game, and when that happens they are going to get goals. Whether or not it's two restarts it doesn't really matter," Klein said. "Those goals weren't an accident. They took it to us at the beginning of the second half being a man down and we can't let that happen."
  • Against the Rapids, Gansler started a rarity in the league - two rookies together in the strike partnership, Ryan Pore and Scott Sealy. "Ryan Pore laid that ball back to Kleiny, and he had a couple other situations where he didn't get his nerve up to shoot when he should have. You don't lead the country in scoring by being hesitant in those situations - it's uncharacteristic. But it was another step in his education, and I'm glad he got the assist. Hopefully he's better in the next situations.
  • "What Scotty did better is he's got to be a guarantee that when the ball is played into him, he's going to hold it. Now we can push people up and [attack]. He's got the game, and he's got the body, this is (what he does), and he's been a little hesitant on that," said Gansler. "But I thought he did much better on that in this game, and that's why we kept him in there for 90 [minutes]. He needs to get a couple more possibilities at goal, put himself in better positions. He didn't have any at all in the first half, did have a couple in the second half. "


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