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D.C. UNITED v CHIVAS USA
RFK MEMORIAL STADIUM, Washington, D.C.
4 p.m. ET (ESPN2)
April 8, 2006 (WEEK #2) MLS Game #7
An intriguing matchup awaits on ESPN2's Soccer Saturday as D.C. United play host to Chivas USA. United didn't get off to the best of starts in their season opener, but an effervescent closing 45 minutes gained them a point in a season-opening draw with the New York Red Bulls - where the second New York goal should have been ruled out. One-time United assistant Bob Bradley - the winningest coach in MLS history - certainly seems to have Chivas USA turned around after their 3-0 victory against Real Salt Lake to open their second season.
REFEREE: Marcel Yonan. SAR (bench): Greg Barkey; JAR (opposite): Adam Wienckowski; 4th: Andrew Chapin
MLS Career: 53 games; FC/gm: 29.1; Y/gm: 3.3; R: 8; pens: 18
Games involving United: P14 W8 L3 T3; FC/gm: 31.2; Y/gm: 3.8; R: 1; pens: 7
Games involving Chivas USA: P2 W0 L2 T0; FC/gm: 28.0; Y/gm: 5.5; R: 0; pens: 1
INJURY REPORT: D.C. UNITED - OUT: DF Bryan Namoff (L groin strain); GK Nick Rimando (L mid-foot sprain); DOUBTFUL: DF David Stokes (hip flexor strain); PROBABLE: DF Bobby Boswell (pharyngitis) ... CHIVAS USA - OUT: MF Francisco Gomez (L knee surgery), FW Matt Taylor (R ankle fracture); DOUBTFUL: MF Ramon Ramirez (L knee sprain); QUESTIONABLE: DF Carlos Llamosa (L hamstring strain)
INTERNATIONAL ABSENCES: none
This is the first of two meetings this year between the clubs, the only one set for RFK Stadium. They are scheduled to face each other at The Home Depot Center on Sept. 3.
ALL-TIME (2 meetings): United 2 wins (0 shootout), 5 goals ... Chivas USA 0 wins (0 shootout), 0 goals ... 0 draws
IN WASHINGTON: (1 meetings): United 1 wins (0 shootout), 3 goals ... Chivas USA 0 wins (0 shootout), 0 goals ... 0 draws
LAST YEAR (MLS):
A year ago, United claimed both meetings without conceding a goal. The teams met in First Kick 2005 at The Home Depot Center in Chivas USA's first-ever match as United claimed victory.
Coaches record: Peter Nowak vs. DC: P2 W2 L0 D0 ... Bob Bradley v DC: P23 W8 L11 D4
4/2 CHV 0, DC 2 (Gros 32; Gomez 76)
8/13: DC 3, CHV 0 (Quaranta 41; Walker 43; Kovalenko 64)
The Red Bulls played the first game under their new ownership and came away with a point, as D.C. United stormed back from a two-goal halftime deficit to claim the draw.
The new-look Red Bulls had a two-goal lead after just 18 minutes. Youri Djorkaeff once again exhibited his free kick mastery, whipping a right-footed curling, dipping shot over the United wall from almost 30 yards out (15). Then New York was gifted a second, D.C. 'keeper Troy Perkins spilling a cross from the right corner right at the feet of Edson Buddle, who had the simplest of tasks to open his Red Bulls account.
But Alecko Eskandarian made his 2005 debut, coming on to start the second half, and turned the game around. He netted his first since winning MVP honors with a two-goal day at MLS Cup 2004, latching onto a pinpoint cross from Josh Gros and blasting a first-time left-footed volley into the roof of the net on 55 minutes.
Then 10 minutes later center back Facundo Erpen snuck forward and drove a long-range shot low and hard from well outside the Red Bulls area to pull United level.
Here's Peter Nowak's team (4-3-3): Troy Perkins - Joshua Gros, Facundo Erpen, Brandon Prideaux, John Wilson - Brian Carroll, Ben Olsen, Clyde Simms (Alecko Eskandarian 46) - Lucio Filomeno (Santino Quaranta 75), Jaime Moreno, Freddy Adu (Substitutes Not Used: Ryan McIntosh, Devon McTavish, Domenic Mediate, Justin Moose, Jamil Walker)
"We still have to work on some things, because we're playing too slow, too predictable," Nowak said. "There were a couple of good chances, with Josh in the first half, right off the bat - we have to score from this position. And Freddy just before the half-these are some crucial plays. If we go in 2-1 at halftime, it's a different story. But the boys responded very well, and I'm happy with how they played."
D.C United began their season with a dramatic result, coming back from a two-goal deficit at halftime to claim a 2-2 draw with the New York Red Bulls on Sunday afternoon at RFK Stadium. United and the Red Bulls are level in third place from the Eastern Conference, with one point from their opening match.
For Eskandarian, his last goals in a competitive match came Nov. 13, 2004 in the MLS Cup Final. A year ago, he played in just 12 matches (seven starts), recording just a single assist, after suffering a concussion in a collision with New England goalkeeper Matt Reis.
"I think there's 10 months' worth of frustration behind that shot," said Eskandarian. "It feels good. It's just good to be back with the guys, in the locker room and part of the team."
Even though Freddy Adu had performed well in an advanced left wing position in the first half, Nowak moved the teenager into a central role and placed Eskandarian in that spot for the second stanza, looking to isolate Red Bulls rookie right back Marvell Wynne.
"When Esky came in, they wanted him closer to the goal, but also go at Marvell a little bit," said Adu. "I moved into the middle with Benny and (Brian Carroll) behind, and it gave me a little bit more room to run at people."
"We were discouraged, but this team has a good attitude," Olsen said to The Washington Post. "At halftime we decided to get our [act] together and go out there and put together a good half. We started moving the ball better, we started playing through each other, we looked better. Esky really did a good job putting them on their heels and moving the ball quick and going after them."
Center back Bobby Boswell was expected to return to the starting lineup but he was unavailable after suffering pharyngitis, an infection that required a hospital visit Saturday night and often causes a sore throat. In his absence, Prideaux partnered Erpen in the center of the back four and Wilson started on the left.
On Tuesday, U.S. Soccer and MLS said New York's second goal should have been ruled out. On Djorkaeff's free kick, three Red Bulls players stood near the goal in an offside position, but when the ball flew over the wall and into the goal, it was ruled they did not interfere with play and so the goal was allowed to stand.
"The referees will all be alerted and everyone will have a better understanding if this situation arises again," said Machnik to the Post. " ... The goal should've been disallowed. The players were too close to the goalkeeper."
The home side broke through after just 21 minutes. New signing Claudio Suarez - earlier named to the provisional Mexico roster for the FIFA World Cup - sent a ball over the top from midfield and Razov raced onto it behind the Real defense, coolly finding the back of the net.
Four minutes later Juan Pablo Garcia doubled the lead with a magnificent goal. With his back to the goal some 25 yards out, he quickly turned and let loose a well-placed curling shot that sailed over Garlick and found the left side netting.
In the 66th minute, Razov completed his double. He collected the ball some 35 yards out from goal, shook loose from a marker and unloaded a 25-yard laser beam past Garlick.
Here's Bob Bradley's team (4-4-2): Brad Guzan - Lawson Vaughn, Claudio Suarez, Tim Regan, Jonathan Bornstein - Juan Pablo Garcia (Brent Whitfield 61), Sacha Kljestan, Jesse Marsch, Francisco Mendoza (Orlando Perez 78) - Juan Francisco Palencia, Ante Razov (Drew Helm 88) (Substitutes Not Used: Esteban Arias, Preston Burpo, Ezra Hendrickson, Jesus Ochoa)
"Early in the game, the tone was set by Ante and really by Paco with their work," Bradley said. "Paco doesn't get the goals today but boy did he work and fight and hold the ball and open up things. ... The combination up there tonight - not just the goals but the way they set the tone - was really important."
Chivas USA got their sophomore season off to a tremendous start, rolling over Real Salt Lake 3-0 in a battle of last year's expansion teams on Sunday afternoon at The Home Depot Center. After one match, Chivas USA, Houston Dynamo and FC Dallas all sit atop the Western Conference with three points.
Bradley said there is a new feeling of confidence around the club, one that started before the season-opening victory.
"We felt throughout preseason that the work was good, that we're going in the right direction," Bradley said. "The players believe that we can be a good team. I feel like there is a growing mentality in the group about what's going on. You want to just build on that and feel like they see it and they're ready to take this thing and run with it. It's just the first step."
When Ante Razov scored his second goal of the game 20 minutes into the second half, he not only gave Chivas just their second home game ever with more than two goals, he also sealed the 3-0 victory. More importantly, the win seemed to send a message to the rest of the league.
"It was an important day for us to change the whole outlook on this club," Razov said. "This is a new team with a new look and a new attitude. We want to earn some respect around the league."
On Sunday after the match, Claudio Suarez was included in Mexico's provisional 23-man final roster for the FIFA World Cup by technical director Ricardo La Volpe. Suarez has 174 caps for Mexico, five shy of the all-time world record held by Mohamed Al-Deayea of Saudi Arabia.
On Tuesday, Chivas USA finalized the acquisition of U.S. international midfielder John O'Brien. The 27-year-old has spent the last 12 years in the Netherlands, last with ADO Den Haag of the Eredivisie (top flight), after coming through the AFC Ajax system, where he played until 2005.
O'Brien adds to already stout stable of midfielders, but said Chivas USA coach Bob Bradley: "It makes the decisions harder but adding a top player to our team is only going to take us closer to really competing with the best teams in MLS. O'Brien is not yet match-fit, he said, but the prospect of playing a game is "is something that's definitely eating inside of me. I want to get out there and play in a competitive environment," O'Brien said. "I've been susceptible to injury. I'm hoping to turn that around. Maybe in the next few years I can kind of turn around that image."
With O'Brien in the mix for a U.S. World Cup spot, the club could potentially have one player each from the Mexican and U.S. World Cup teams: If both O'Brien and Claudio Suarez compete with their respective national teams at the World Cup, it would reinforce the amount of experience the club counts upon. Including O'Brien, Chivas USA has five players who have competed in the World Cup: Suarez and Ramon Ramirez (in 1994 and 1998), Francisco Palencia (1998 and 2002) and Carlos Llamosa (2002). Also, assistant coach Preki was on the USA's 1998 World Cup team.