Christian Gomez hit for goals 11 minutes apart in the second half as D.C. United held off the Kansas City Wizards to claim a 3-2 victory in an end-to-end thriller at RFK Stadium on Saturday night.
United had owned much of the play and the lead until just after the hour, when an unfortunate own goal pulled the visitors level. But Gomez hit home with a pair of opportunistic finishes to give United a two-goal lead late in the game, though a Scott Sealy goal and a red card caused some anxious moments for the Black-and-Red at the death.
United enjoyed more possession in the early going, putting together fluid passing combinations on both flanks, but just like the previous week's match at New England, the final touch in the box was missing.
In the 23rd minute, Ben Olsen knocked down a Josh Gros cross to tee up Alecko Eskandarian just outside the box, but he shot well over Bo Oshoniyi's crossbar. Seconds later, Eskandarian was also unable to place his next chance on net, blasting a one-time effort high and wide as he tried to find the near upper corner.
But the snakebitten striker finally caught a break five minutes later, skillfully linking one-touch passes with Jaime Moreno in the center of the field before racing past Jose Burciaga in pursuit of Moreno's flick. Burciaga, beaten for pace, had no choice but to tug back the quick striker, and referee Gus St. Silva did not hesitate to point to the spot.
Up stepped Moreno for the spot kick, and the wily Bolivian showed a bit of power to rip his shot high and away from a diving Oshoniyi to draw first blood.
The Wizards created some real danger two minutes before the interval, as Nick Rimando had to come up with a clutch save to deny Sasha Victorine as he found space in the box to lash a low shot to the 'keeper's right. Although he left the rebound sitting right in front of the goalmouth, Bryan Namoff was on hand to boot it to safety.
D.C. resumed its dominance of the ball as the second half began, and another attractive sequence was almost converted by United's usual suspects in attack, Moreno and Gomez. A wonderful move from Gomez opened up acres of space before he found an overlapping Moreno. Moreno had the far corner picked out, but Oshoniyi produced an excellent kick save.
The game changed suddenly and dramatically in the 62nd minute. Chris Klein found ample space to send in a low, curling cross from the right wing, intended for Davy Arnaud. Rookie center back Bobby Boswell seemed to have the danger covered, but he couldn't make solid contact with the spinning service and the ball squirted off his foot and past a stunned Rimando for an own goal.
But the defending champs would respond. Moreno latched on to a teasing far post cross deep in the Wizards box and headed it back across the face of goal, and it slipped through a bunch of bodies before Gomez raced it to poke it past Oshoniyi in the 69th minute.
Freddy Adu made his now-familiar second half appearance in the 78th minute, to the adulation of the United faithful-- but they were even more delighted when he made an immediate impact to set up D.C.'s third goal.
United forced a turnover in midfield and Adu raced forward to lead the counter, confidently cutting left and right. The teen phenom slotted a perfectly-timed ball to Gomez and the South American playmaker smoothly cut around a diving Nick Garcia and beat Oshoniyi with a clinical finish.
The Wizards weren't done though, and caused some fright for the home supporters when they won a free kick just outside the area in the 87th minute. Klein's shot off the set-piece was blocked by the packed D.C. defense, but Burciaga stepped up to the loose ball and let loose a piledriver from distance that was remarkably turned aside by Rimando.
But mere moments later, a glaring error from Rimando let Kansas City back into the match yet again. A lazy long ball into the home side's box seemed to pose little problem, but the United 'keeper was flummoxed by the short hop and spilled the ball behind him. Second-half sub Sealy was in the right place at the right time, and he had little difficulty in turning and firing into an empty net.
A melee erupted in the dying moments as Gros and Preki tangled near the D.C. endline, bringing both sides together for some ill-tempered pushing and shoving when ended with another yellow card for Gros, forcing a nervous United to finish the match a man down. But Kansas City's last-ditch efforts came up empty and United escaped with a well-earned win.
MLSnet.com Man of the Match: Christian Gomez (D.C. United)
Charles Boehm is a contributor to MLSnet.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Soccer or its clubs.
Kansas City Wizards (2-1-3) vs. D.C. United (2-3-2)
May 21, 2005 -- RFK Stadium
DC -- Jaime Moreno 4 (penalty kick) 29
KC -- own goal (Bobby Boswell) 62
DC -- Christian Gomez 2 (Jaime Moreno 2, Alecko Eskandarian 1) 69
DC -- Christian Gomez 3 (Freddy Adu 4) 80
KC -- Scott Sealy 2 (unassisted) 88
Kansas City Wizards -- Bo Oshoniyi, Shavar Thomas (Preki 78), Jimmy Conrad, Nick Garcia, Jose Burciaga Jr., Chris Klein, Sasha Victorine, Kerry Zavagnin, Alex Zotinca (Jack Jewsbury 74), Davy Arnaud (Scott Sealy 84), Josh Wolff.
Substitutes Not Used: Will Hesmer, Brian Roberts.
TOTAL SHOTS: 8 (Davy Arnaud 3); SHOTS ON GOAL: 5 (Sasha Victorine 2); FOULS: 12 (Jose Burciaga Jr. 3); OFFSIDES: 3 (Josh Wolff 2); CORNER KICKS: 3 (Chris Klein 2); SAVES: 2 (Bo Oshoniyi 2)
D.C. United -- Nick Rimando, Bryan Namoff, Bobby Boswell, Brandon Prideaux, Ben Olsen, Brian Carroll, Christian Gomez (Dema Kovalenko 87), Clyde Simms, Joshua Gros, Alecko Eskandarian (Freddy Adu 77), Jaime Moreno (David Stokes 90).
Substitutes Not Used: Shawn Kuykendall, Tim Merritt, Troy Perkins, Mike Petke, Jason Thompson, Jamil Walker.
TOTAL SHOTS: 11 (3 tied with 3); SHOTS ON GOAL: 5 (Christian Gomez 2, Jaime Moreno 2); FOULS: 17 (Bryan Namoff 4); OFFSIDES: 1 (Jaime Moreno 1); CORNER KICKS: 1 (Christian Gomez 1); SAVES: 4 (Nick Rimando 4)
DC -- Bryan Namoff (caution; Reckless Foul) 30
KC -- Davy Arnaud (caution; Tackle from Behind) 66
DC -- Joshua Gros (caution; Pushing, Holding) 85
KC -- Preki (caution; Game Disrepute) 94+
DC -- Joshua Gros (caution; Game Disrepute) 94+
DC -- Joshua Gros (ejection; Second Caution) 94+
DC -- Freddy Adu (caution; Dissent) 96+
Referee: Gus St. Silva
Referee's Assistants: -Steven Davidson; C.J. Morgante
4th Official: Ben Jones
All statistics contained in this boxscore are unofficial.