United host West leaders FC Dallas
RFK MEMORIAL STADIUM
7:30 pm ET (CSN-DC; FSN-SW; FSC)
D.C. United have had an up-and-down campaign this season but they've seen more joy at home, having won two on the trot at RFK Stadium where they've scored 10 of their 12 goals on the campaign. They play host to an FC Dallas squad now on a four-game road trip - a third extended trip of the season - which began in fine fashion with a 5-2 demolition of Chivas USA in Carson last weekend as they re-took the lead in the Western Conference.
REFEREE: Ricardo Valenzuela. SAR (bench): Tom Supple; JAR (opposite): Adam Wienckowski; 4th: Roni Canales
MLS Career: 63 games; FC/gm: 34.3; Y/gm: 4.7; R: 26; pens: 20
Games involving United: P12 W2 L8 T2; FC/gm: 36.2; Y/gm: 5.0; R: 0; pens: 7
Games involving FC Dallas: P15 W8 L5 T2; FC/gm: 32.9; Y/gm: 5.0; R: 12; pens: 5
INJURY REPORT: D.C. UNITED - OUT: MF Steve Guppy (Achilles tendonitis), PROBABLE: FW Jamil Walker (piriformis syndrome) ...FC DALLAS - OUT: MF Carey Talley (L rib cage injury); MF Richard Mulrooney (R knee ACL tear
INTERNATIONAL ABSENCES: DC: MF Clyde Simms (USA; May 28 v England) ... DAL: DF Greg Vanney; FW Eddie Johnson (USA; May 28 v England)
SUSPENDED: DC: MF Josh Gros (through May 28)
YELLOW PERIL: none
ALL-TIME (24 meetings): United 9 wins (0 shootout), 47 goals ... FC Dallas 13 wins (4 shootout), 45 goals ... 2 draws
AT RFK STADIUM (10 meetings): United 6 wins (0 shootout), 30 goals ... FC Dallas 3 wins (2 shootout), 15 goals ... 1 draw
This is the first of the two scheduled league meetings this season between the teams, the lone on East Capitol Street. The match hosted by FC Dallas is set for Sept. 10 at the Frisco Soccer and Entertainment Center.
A year ago, the teams split their season series, each winning one with one draw in the three meetings. They played to a 1-1 draw on June 26 at the Cotton Bowl on a day when Jason Kreis became the league's all-time leading goalscorer (Kreis 37 - Eskandarian 58), then Dallas hammered an injury-ravaged United 5-1 on July 24 at home (Jolley 10; Johnson 31, 73; Davis 45, 63 - own goal 34).
United won the lone match at RFK Stadium, claiming a 3-0 victory on Sept. 11 (Eskandarian 45, 82; Adu 84).
The teams have split the season series in each of the last two years, each winning once with one draw in their three meetings.
In the three years before, the then-Burn had a five-match winning streak that saw United go more than two years without a point in the series, dating from a 3-0 Dallas win on July 8, 2000 to a 4-3 Burn triumph on Sept. 19, 2002.
Coaches record: Peter Nowak v DAL: P3 W1 L1 T1 ... Colin Clarke vs. DC: P3 W1 L1 D1
D.C. United won their second consecutive match at home, knocking off the Kansas City Wizards 3-2 in the second rematch of the year of MLS Cup 2004. United are now in third place in the Eastern Conference with 11 points from eight matches, two behind the Chicago Fire and nine out of first place, held by the New England Revolution.
The second rematch of MLS Cup 2004 had a little more excitement than the first, the game bursting to life over the final hour.
Jaime Moreno put D.C. United in the lead in the 29th minute when he converted from the penalty spot after Alecko Eskandarian was pulled back by Jose Burciaga Jr. in the area. But the Wizards leveled the match just after the hour when a Chris Klein rolling cross from the right corner was unfortunately turned into his own goal by United rookie center back Bobby Boswell.
But United responded in short order through Gomez's pair. In the 69th minute, Eskandarian flighted in a cross that Moreno knocked down for Gomez to bang home just before a heavy collision with Wizards 'keeper Bo Oshoniyi. Then Freddy Adu latched onto the ball in midfield and set off on a juking run through the Wizards before laying it off to Gomez who coolly slotted home (80).
The Wizards caused some tense moments for the finale, United 'keeper Nick Rimando spilling a cross just after a tremendous save, and Scott Sealy banging home from close range (88). The home side were then left a man down when Josh Gros was sent off, but they survived the final moments.
United coach Peter Nowak made two changes to the team that lost 1-0 to the New England Revolution the weekend before. Bryan Namoff came in for Mike Petke in the back in advance of his transfer to the Colorado Rapids, while Brian Carroll came back into central midfield, for Freddy Adu.
Here's Nowak's team (3-4-1-2): Nick Rimando - Bryan Namoff, Bobby Boswell, Brandon Prideaux - Ben Olsen, Brian Carroll, Clyde Simms, Joshua Gros - Christian Gomez (Dema Kovalenko 87) - Alecko Eskandarian (Freddy Adu 77), Jaime Moreno (David Stokes 89).
"We gave two gifts to Kansas City tonight and, I think for the rest of the season, we are not going to give up such goals as tonight. We made mistakes and we paid for it, but this is a great win for the team," Nowak said. "... Everyone did very well today. The movement and the soccer part was very good. Christian [Gomez] found his spots tonight and connected with people around him."
After the match, a lot was made of the tactical tweak employed by Nowak to his preferred formation. The first involving having midfielder Gomez start a lot higher in the attack, almost like a deep-lying forward playing off Moreno and Eskandarian.
"It was a big boost morally for me," Gomez said to The Washington Post. "I'm happy that my hard work paid off for the team. ... In the past game it was a little difficult coming back and helping win balls [deep in midfield], but tonight [Nowak] asked me to go forward. I had more liberty and more freedom and overall it was a good game for me."
The other involved having wide midfielder Ben Olsen move more inside, allowing right back Bryan Namoff to get forward and join the attack in a wingback role.
"Yeah, we wanted the (Wizards) outside midfielder to pinch in with (Olsen)," said Namoff. "That would allow me more freedom to get into attack. By starting outside like that, it gives me a little more time and space to find Jaime (Moreno) and try to create that overlapping run."
Said Nowak: "We can talk about it, we can put the Xs and Os over there, but they actually need to execute the game plan. They did a very good job. I'm very happy for them because I know they have this hunger again to be one of the top teams in Major League Soccer."
The Black-and-Red have now lost just one home match in the past year, and 10 of their 12 goals this season have been scored at RFK.
With current starter Clyde Simms with the U.S. national team for their glamour friendly against England, and left wingback Josh Gros suspended, it could be a first start for Dema Kovalenko. "I think I'm ready," he said. "I felt good [playing 79 minutes in the reserve game]. I think I'm very, very close. I think I can help the team - that's my mentality. ... I hope they think I'm ready, too."
Freddy Adu will also be available. He was expected to have joined the U.S. under-20 national team, but because of a change in schedule, he will join the youth team following the FC Dallas match to begin preparations for the FIFA World Youth Championships in the Netherlands.
FC Dallas extended their unbeaten run to four matches in fine fashion, scoring four second-half goals on their way to a 5-2 victory against Chivas USA at The Home Depot Center on Sunday evening. FC Dallas remain in first place in the Western Conference with 18 points from nine matches, three points ahead of Los Angeles Galaxy (who have two matches in hand), while they are two points behind New England Revolution's league-best record.
FC Dallas began a month-long road run with a big victory as they shredded the Chivas USA backline. The scoreline was level entering the break: Aaron Pitchkolan having given FCD a dream start after just 35 seconds, redirecting a Ramon Nunez shot with the slightest of touches for his first professional goal before Chivas USA's Hector Cuadros equalized from the penalty spot (19).
But it was all FC Dallas after the break. Carlos Ruiz put the Hoops in front when he turned on Chivas defender Douglas Sequeira and lashed home a low shot from the edge of the area (48), then three minutes later Ronnie O'Brien again hit the back of the net with a long-range bomb, this one from all of 25 yards.
Isaac Romo pulled Chivas a goal back just two minutes later when he headed home a neat cross from Cuadros from the heart of the box. Yet FC Dallas killed off the game with two more goals, Eddie Johnson collecting a square pass from Pitchkolan before sending in a low shot off goalkeeper Martin Zuniga, before Ecuadorian international Roberto Mina completed the scoring in stoppage time when he chipped home into an unguarded goal after Zuniga had come off his line to knock the ball away from Ruiz after he had burst through unchecked.
FC Dallas boss Colin Clarke made two changes to the team that came back for a 2-1 victory against the Colorado Rapids at the midweek. Ramon Nuñez came into central midfield for Oscar Pareja in his first start of the year, while Aaron Pitchkolan made his first professional start, coming in for the injured Carey Talley.
Here's Clarke's team (4-1-3-2): Scott Garlick - Bobby Rhine, Clarence Goodson, Greg Vanney, Chris Gbandi - Simo Valakari - Ronnie O'Brien (Arturo Alvarez 86), Ramon Nunez (Drew Moor 68), Aaron Pitchkolan - Eddie Johnson (Roberto Mina 75), Carlos Ruiz
"We gave away a penalty kick, which is not good, I thought the rest of the first half was back and forth," said FC Dallas coach Colin Clarke. "I think we had more opportunities and the second half, we came out and started right. We went after them, we got closer to them, something we didn't do in the first half"
The result was a tremendous start to a four-match road trip. FC Dallas has already embarked on two-game and three-game road runs this season, a heavy load of away matches while the Frisco Soccer and Entertainment Center is being completed.
"We're now in first place and although it's still early on, we've been on the road for six out of our first nine games," said Clarke. "We just want to hang in there for these next three road games and make it home intact."
It was a second long-range bomb for Ronnie O'Brien against Chivas USA in two matches at The Home Depot Center. He scored on Chivas 'keeper Brad Guzan with a curling wonder goal in the first match on April 16.
"Everything is going in for me at the moment but I still say that I'm lethal from 25 yards out and horrible from 10 yards," O'Brien said. Said Clarke: "Ronnie's been playing magnificent this last month, covering every blade of grass," said Clarke. "I can't say enough about him."
In his first MLS start, Aaron Pitchkolan scored his first professional goal, neatly turning a Ramon Nuñez shot inside the post after just 35 seconds against Chivas. Taken in the second round of the supplemental draft out of West Virginia University, he has been a surprise in playing even just two matches.
"He got us off to a great start," said Clarke. "He's a young kid and he had a great preseason and kept working and working and he's getting better everyday."