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RFK MEMORIAL STADIUM
7:30 pm ET (FSW/E; FSN-RM; CSN)
A pair of clubs going the opposite direction from what they are looking for meet at RFK Stadium. D.C. United lost for the third time in four matches in their last outing, a 3-0 loss to the Chicago Fire at Soldier Field last Saturday, and United have managed just two victories in their 10 matches on the season. The visiting Colorado Rapids lost for the second consecutive match on Wednesday night at home, a 1-0 loss to the Kansas City Wizards that came in their first game in 10 days but also ended their MLS record home unbeaten run dating to last season.
REFEREE: Baldomero Toledo. SAR (bench): George Vergara; JAR (opposite): Ken Kaplan; 4th: Mark Geiger
MLS Career: 2 games; FC/gm: 25.0; Y/gm: 2.5; R: 1; pens: 0
Games involving United: first game
Games involving Rapids: P1 W0 L1 T0; FC/gm: 21.0; Y/gm: 2.0; R: 1; pens: 0
INJURY REPORT: D.C. UNITED - OUT: FW Santino Quaranta (adductor surgery); PROBABLE: FW Thiago Martins (L ACL surgery); FW Eliseo Quintanilla (R fractured fibula); DF Bryan Namoff (abdominal strain) ... COLORADO RAPIDS: OUT: MD Mark Chung (L quadriceps strain); DF Jeff Stewart (R knee); PROBABLE: DF Ritchie Kotschau (abdominal strain)
INTERNATIONAL ABSENCES: DC: Earnie Stewart, Bobby Convey (USA; June 13 v Grenada) ... COL: Jean-Phillipe Peguero (Haiti; June 13 v Jamaica)
YELLOW PERIL: none
This is the second of three meetings between the two teams this season, the first of the two RFK Stadium meetings. The final encounter between the teams comes in a midweek game on Aug. 11.
The Rapids won the first meeting this season, defeating United 2-1 on May 22 to extend their unbeaten streak at home to an MLS-record 16 games.
Zizi Roberts put the home side ahead after 13 minutes when he redirected home a terrific overhead kick from Jean-Philippe Peguero. Josh Gros brought United level two minutes after the halftime break with his first professional goal, hammering home a rolling cross played through the area from Earnie Stewart.
But it took Colorado just four minutes to answer, Peguero diving to head home a Mark Chung knockdown of a deep Chris Henderson cross from the right corner. For Henderson, the assist gave him the Colorado Rapids all-time scoring lead with 101 points.
Here's Hankinson's team (4-4-2): Joe Cannon - Antonio de la Torre, Nat Borchers, Pablo Mastroeni, Ritchie Kotschau - Mark Chung, Kyle Beckerman, Darryl Powell, Chris Henderson - Zizi Roberts (Seth Trembly 89), Jean-Philippe Peguero (Matt Crawford 77).
Here's Nowak's team (4-4-1-1): Troy Perkins - David Stokes, Mike Petke, Bryan Namoff, Brandon Prideaux - Joshua Gros, Brian Carroll, Earnie Stewart, Dema Kovalenko (Ronald Cerritos 79) - Freddy Adu (Alecko Eskandarian 80) - Jaime Moreno
A year ago, the teams met three times, with a pair of draws followed by a gritty D.C. United win. On April 26 at Invesco Field, the clubs played to a 1-1 draw (Spencer 24 pen - Etcheverry 7), then on June 11, they played to a scoreless draw in Washington.
Then on Aug. 13 (another midweek meeting), United won 1-0 on a 31st-minute goal from Eliseo Quintanilla.
United won the first five league meetings between the clubs (one by shootout), but since, Colorado has won six of the 15 meetings and United five (with four draws). United also won the lone postseason meeting between the teams, a 2-1 victory in the 1997 MLS Cup Final.
Four of the last six meetings have involved shutouts - including last year's scoreless tie.
Chris Henderson is the Rapids all-time leader against United with 5 goals, 2 assists; for his MLS career, he has 6 goals, 5 assists v United. John Spencer is second on the club list with 4 goals, 1 assist. Mark Chung has 8 goals, 8 assists for his career against United, but just two assists have come while in Colorado.
Ronald Cerritos leads current United players with 8 goals, 3 assists v Colorado, but has not played against the Rapids while in Black-and-Red. Jaime Moreno is second on United's all-time list with 7 goals, 4 assists. Dema Kovalenko has 3 goals, 2 assists v Colorado for his career (none while with United). Raul Diaz Arce leads United's all-time record against the Rapids with 9 goals.
Coaches record: Tim Hankinson v DC: P16 W6 L6 T4 ... Peter Nowak vs. COL: P1 W0 L1 T0
ALL-TIME (20 meetings): United 10 wins (2 shootout), 38 goals ... Rapids 6 wins (1 shootout), 28 goals ... 4 draws
AT RFK STADIUM (9 meetings): United 5 wins (1 shootout), 19 goals ... Rapids 2 wins (1 shootout), 10 goals ... 2 draws
Damani Ralph connected for his second career hat trick to pull himself into a tie atop the MLS goalscoring charts. All three goals by the Jamaican international were real striker's goals, all coming from sharply-angled shots in the area.
In the first half, he fought off defender David Stokes before firing between 'keeper Troy Perkins' legs from the right side (15), then in the second half, he ran onto a perfectly-weighted through ball in the left side of the area to again beat Perkins (55).
Then 14 minutes later, he collected a high, looping overhead cross from Nate Jaqua before hammering a drive from an impossibly tight angle just under the crossbar. United again failed to win back-to-back contests, going without the full three points for the eighth time in 10 games.
"I don't appreciate the way we played. I felt the Fire didn't win the game, we lost it. Our performance on the field wasn't great. Too many guys think they can take time off," United coach Peter Nowak said.
Nowak made two changes to the team that defeated the New England Revolution 1-0 the weekend before. David Stokes came into the back three for the injured Bryan Namoff, while Dema Kovalenko came back into the team after playing in the Stoitchkov testimonial in Barcelona, Josh Gros returned to the subs' bench.
Here's Nowak's team (3-1-4-2): Troy Perkins - David Stokes, Mike Petke, Brandon Prideaux - Brian Carroll - Earnie Stewart, Dema Kovalenko, Ben Olsen (Kevin Ara 76), Bobby Convey - Ronald Cerritos, Freddy Adu (Joshua Gros 57).
"It's embarrassing to lose like that," midfielder Ben Olsen said. "There were so many things we didn't do correctly. We were flat, our team defense wasn't there, the dedication wasn't there. We were out of whack."
New Zealand's dreams of Germany 2006 dramatically came crashing to a halt on Sunday, when the Solomon Islands earned a 2-2 tie with Australia to earn a place in the final round of Oceania qualifying and eliminate the Kiwis from Germany 2006. Captain Ryan Nelsen played in three of the final round matches, scoring a goal in New Zealand's 10-0 victory against Tahiti, and should be back for the weekend match.
In addition to Namoff, missing through an abdominal strain, Alecko Eskandarian did not make the trip with a hamstring strain. Jaime Moreno, who missed the Revolution match with a thigh injury, was an unused substitute.
Midfielder Earnie Stewart and defender Bobby Convey will miss the Rapids match while on international duty for the USA's World Cup qualifier against Grenada.
Moreno is expected to be available this weekend, but Namoff is still sidelined. Captain Ryan Nelsen should return to the lineup. Then during the week, forward Thiago Martins - who suffered a knee injury in the offseason - had a setback as it seemed he could be available this weekend. His status is now unknown.
"For the team, for the mentality, it's not good . . . but I'm never going to complain about injuries because I believe in this team," Nowak said. "We're not going to make excuses."
D.C. United once again followed a victory with a loss, falling to the Chicago Fire 3-0 in an abject performance at Soldier Field on Saturday afternoon. United is now in fourth place in the Eastern Conference with 12 points from 11 matches, just three points ahead of last-place New England but just four points behind leader Chicago Fire.
Josh Wolff netted the spot kick two minutes deep into second-half stoppage time, as the Wizards ended the Rapids' MLS-record 16-match unbeaten streak at home.
Chris Klein split a pair of defenders with a through ball for Wolff and the U.S. international was brought down by defender Nat Borchers. Referee Andrew Chapin - running the center for the first time in an MLS match - immediately whistled the penalty and sent off Borchers. Wolff took his own penalty, blasting it down the center of the goal for his fourth goal of the season.
Rapids coach Tim Hankinson made two changes to the team that lost to the Chicago Fire 1-0 at Soldier Field 10 days earlier. Seth Trembly came in on the left side of midfield for the injured Mark Chung, while John Spencer made his first start in six matches, coming in for Jean-Philippe Peguero (away on international duty).
Here's Hankinson's team (4-4-2): Joe Cannon - Antonio de la Torre, Nat Borchers, Pablo Mastroeni, Matt Crawford - Chris Henderson, Kyle Beckerman, Darryl Powell, Seth Trembly (Ritchie Kotschau 86) - Zizi Roberts, John Spencer.
"It was really quite a devastating loss, because we will be without two of our best players for the next game," said Rapids head coach Tim Hankinson. "We had not enough possessions in the first half. We created a lot of action around the opposition's box. But we didn't show enough quality to break them down. It got away from us."
The Rapids managed just one shot on goal for the entire match - in the first half. "I really thought they outplayed us," Cannon said of the Wizards. "I thought they created a lot of chances. To come here into our place like that and for us to get kicked around, it's embarrassing."
The Rapids will be without both of their first-choice central defenders, with the sending off of Borchers, and the booking Pablo Mastroeni received 10 minutes from time. That put him over the caution point limit.
"I was fouling in an attempt to prevent the guy (Wolff) from scoring," Borchers admitted. "It was deserved. Obviously, when you get a red card, I didn't want to leave the game, I didn't want to let my teammates down, especially giving up a penalty kick."
Roberts did not travel to join the Liberia national team for their World Cup qualifier against Mali last weekend, following a disagreement over travel expenses with the LFA. Roberts has been called in for Liberia's match against Congo on June 18, but his status for that match is still in question.
The Colorado Rapids lost for the second consecutive match and saw their MLS-record home unbeaten streak come to an end, a late penalty kick giving the Kansas City Wizards a 1-0 victory in Denver on Wednesday night. It was the second consecutive loss for the Rapids, who remain mired in last place in the Western Conference with 10 points from nine matches.