United create new winning formula

Weathered, worn and a bit rough around the edges, RFK Stadium might have been dramatically altered by the recent arrival of baseball's Washington Nationals. But D.C. United clearly still love to play at their home ground, as they again proved with a 3-2 dismissal of the Kansas City Wizards on Saturday night.

"It's good to finally be back, and especially to get the win," said defender Bryan Namoff, who played well in his first start of the season after missing his team's first seven matches due to a broken rib. "That's in-conference, and especially at home. It was a good crowd and nice to get a victory."

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. The victory against the Wizards gives D.C. a much-needed boost as they look to address the wide gap opened up by the Eastern Conference-leading New England Revolution.

United controlled the lion's share of play throughout the match, but allowed the visitors two soft goals that almost cost D.C. the full three points.

"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," United coach Peter Nowak said. "We made mistakes and we paid for it, but this is a great win for the team." Said midfielder Ben Olsen: "How we manage a lead is something we can work on, but it's a good win, and we needed the win."

Olsen was the centerpiece of a tactical change made by Nowak that seemed to help D.C. win the possession battle. Nowak's 3-5-2 system hinges on creating numerical advantages in midfield, but he looked for even more dominance by freeing Olsen from his right wing duties and allowing him to roam the entire park while right back Namoff pushed forward.

"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."

Olsen seized on this new approach, making the most of his tireless work rate and ability to combine with teammates in tight spaces.

"It's a different formation so I can get a little bit more of the ball and cheat a little bit more offensively, which is nice for me," he said. "It's a role I'd like to play for this team."

Playmaking midfielder Christian Gomez clearly benefited from the extra space it opened up for him, as he marshaled D.C.'s counterattack and gave Kansas City fits in the attacking third. He scored two well-taken goals, getting into the box and finishing his chances on a night when his team showed uncharacteristic charity towards the visitors.

"Everyone did very well today," Nowak said. "The movement and the soccer part was very good. Christian found his spots tonight and connected with people around him. He was the man of the match, with two goals. I wish he (will be) player of the week."

A Bobby Boswell own goal and a Scott Sealy tally off a mistake by 'keeper Nick Rimando let the Wizards back into contention, while Gros' injury time ejection kept the RFK crowd nervous until the final whistle.

Gros received his first yellow card for a professional foul that denied Josh Wolff a clear run at goal, but his second caution came under chaotic circumstances as K.C. second-half sub Preki initiated an endline scuffle with the second-year winger.

"The ball was out of bounds, and I went to pick it up, and he grabbed me," explained Gros. "Of course I'm going to regret it when they fine me, but I think I made the right choice. I'm not going to let someone hit me in the face - I'm at least going to hold them back, and that's what I did."

Gros bemoaned his side's inability to salt away the result after going up 3-1, but kept his eye on the bottom line.

"They got a couple of goals they shouldn't have gotten," said the Rutgers graduate. "I think we really dominated. It was a pretty wide open game for us -- we were able to attack, but we didn't finish enough. But we got the win and that's all that matters."

Charles Boehm is a contributor to This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Soccer or its clubs.