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Eastern Conference Championship

Inconsistent Burn, United clash in D.C.

D.C. United and the Dallas Burn meet again Saturday.

Photo Credit: 
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after winning just once over a 13-match stretch -- and moved past both United and the Revolution into third place in the East.

  • An own goal gave the home side the lead after 29 minutes, Ryan Nelsen turning a low Justin Mapp cross from the right past 'keeper Troy Perkins. But United pulled level just before the hour, Earnie Stewart knocking home the rebound after Chicago 'keeper Henry Ring made a fine diving stop of an angled drive by Josh Gros.
  • But it took the Fire just seven minutes to again pull in front, Mapp heading home a C.J. Brown cross from the right on the run, then seven minutes from time Kelly Gray scored his first goal of the season, also heading home a service from Logan Pause.
  • United head coach Peter Nowak made one change to the team that played to a scoreless draw with the New England Revolution in Foxborough the previous weekend.
  • Here's Nowak's team (3-4-2-1): Troy Perkins - Brandon Prideaux, Ryan Nelsen, Bryan Namoff - Earnie Stewart, Dema Kovalenko, Ben Olsen (Brian Carroll 71), Joshua Gros - Christian Gomez (Nana Kuffour 79), Freddy Adu - Jaime Moreno
  • "We knew the game would be chippy,'' Adu said. "We played better than the last time we were here [a 3-0 loss on June 5]. We were just unlucky.''
  • United continued their poor form on their travels, now with just one victory and four draws in 12 encounters on the road, good for just seven points. Ryan Nelsen made his first appearance since July 17, missing seven matches after hernia surgery, coming into the center of the back three for Mike Petke.
  • The effects of Hurricane Ivan will likely rob Nowak of the availability of Ezra Hendrickson. Hendrickson was released to play for St. Vincent & Grenadines in their home World Cup qualifying match against St. Kitts & Nevis, but it was postponed from Wednesday to Friday afternoon after the storm roared through the Windward Islands.
  • Alecko Eskandarian was once again unavailable for the Fire match with an ankle injury, but said he'll be ready for the Dallas contest. "No question about it, I'll be back (this) week," he said. "I tried to get ready for (the Chicago match), but it wouldn't be fair to the guys if I went out there and I can't cut or sprint."

    DALLAS BURN

    For the fourth consecutive time, the Dallas Burn failed to follow a victory with another positive result, allowing a late goal in losing 2-1 to the Colorado Rapids in Denver on Saturday evening. The result dropped the Burn into fifth place in the Western Conference and out of the playoff-paying places, with 32 points from 24 matches, now two behind the fourth-place San Jose Earthquakes but still just six out of first place.

  • An 85th-minute goal from Nat Borchers extended the Colorado Rapids hot streak at home with a 2-1 victory against the Burn. The Rapids haven't lost in seven home games dating back to June 5, and though they allowed their goal at Invesco Field in nearly nine hours, still claimed the full three points to pull into second in the West.
  • The visitors took the lead just before the first half ended. Ronnie O'Brien whipped in a cross from the right, finding defender Matt Behncke bursting between defenders, and his full-blooded volley put an end to the 534-minute home shutout streak of Rapids 'keeper Joe Cannon.
  • But Colorado pulled level seven minutes after the restart when a Jean-Phillipe Peguero cross was headed by Behncke right to John Spencer waiting at the corner of the goal area, and he made no mistake in volleying home his third goal in five games.
  • The Rapids then claimed the points when Borchers headed home an Antonio de la Torre corner past Burn 'keeper Jeff Cassar.
  • Dallas coach Colin Clarke made one change to the team that hammered the Chicago Fire 4-1 at home the previous Saturday. With center back Cory Gibbs away on national team duty, Matt Behncke came into the team to partner Steve Jolley in central defense. Eddie Johnson was originally called into the U.S. national team camp, but then released by Bruce Arena and played the entire match against Colorado.
  • "Any time Behncke's stepped in, he's done a great job and hasn't let us down," Clarke said. "He's invaluable to step in and do a great job. He comes to training every day and works hard and wants to improve. ... He's a player a lot of other teams would like."
  • Here's Clarke's team (4-4-2): Jeff Cassar - Carey Talley, Steve Jolley, Matt Behncke, Chris Gbandi - Ronnie O'Brien, Simo Valakari, Oscar Pareja (Bobby Rhine 72), Eric Quill (Brad Davis 80) - Toni Nhleko (Jason Kreis 84), Eddie Johnson
  • "We had a chance to go up 2-0 in the first half, and we missed what was a sitter. You have to put those chances away," Clarke said. "[Colorado] changed their system a little bit ... and we didn't cope great with it."


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