April 2, 2006 (WEEK #1) - MLS Game #4
The Atlantic Cup will again be the target in the season series for the long-time I-95 rivals, who open their seasons trying to extend their seasons longer than the Eastern Conference Semifinals, where both saw 2005 end in disappointing fashion. For D.C. United, there's been little change from a year ago - head coach Peter Nowak has almost the entirety of his team back. But it's almost all change in New York, where the newly-named Red Bulls had have a real injection of new energy and Mo Johnston begins his first season at the helm with a view to provide the same punch to his squad.
REFEREE: Brian Hall. SAR (bench): Kermit Quisenberry; JAR (opposite): Tom Supple; 4th: Ben Jones
MLS Career: 103 games; FC/gm: 29.3; Y/gm: 3.2; R: 27; pens: 33
Games involving United: P23 W11 L9 T3; FC/gm: 31.6; Y/gm: 3.3; R: 6; pens: 6
Games involving Red Bulls: P22 W6 L14 T2; FC/gm: 29.5; Y/gm: 3.7; R: 3; pens: 7
INJURY REPORT: D.C. UNITED - OUT: DF Bryan Namoff (groin strain); GK Nick Rimando (L mid-foot sprain); DOUBTFUL: DF David Stokes (L hip flexor strain) ... NEW YORK RED BULLS - QUESTIONABLE: MF Mark Lisi (R groin strain)
INTERNATIONAL ABSENCES: none
SUSPENDED: D.C. UNITED: MF Christian Gomez (through April 2)
HEAD-TO-HEADThis is the first of four meetings for the Atlantic Cup between the long-time rivals this season, the first of two at RFK Stadium. They will finish their league season series on East Capitol Street on Sept. 23; in between come the two scheduled meetings at Giants Stadium, on April 22 and Aug. 16.
ALL-TIME (40 meetings): United 22 wins (1 shootout), 80 goals ... Red Bulls 15 wins (1 shootout), 58 goals ... 3 draws
IN WASHINGTON: (20 meetings): United 12 wins (1 shootout), 42 goals ... Red Bulls 7 wins (1 shootout), 31 goals ... 1 draws
LAST YEAR (MLS):A year ago, United claimed the Atlantic Cup with two wins in the four regular season meetings, with one draw.
United has won the Atlantic Cup in three of the four years it has been contested for. United won in the first year of 2002, the MetroStars claiming the trophy the next season, then United reclaimed it in 2004 before becoming the first team to defend the honor. Goal difference is the first tie-breaker, followed by away goals; if still tied, United (as holders) will retain the cup.
United has won six of the last 10 league meetings dating back to Sept. 25, 2003, with a pair of draws in that time. In addition, United won both legs of the Eastern Conference semifinal series between the clubs in 2004.
Coaches record: Peter Nowak vs. DC: P8 W5 L2 D1 ... Mo Johnston v DC: P1 W1 L0 D0
6/12: MET 0, DC 0
8/10: DC 3, MET 0 (Boswell 11; Kovalenko 76; Gros 87)
10/1: MET 1, DC 4 (Magee 19 - og 47; Olsen 55, 86; Moreno 87)
10/8: DC 1, MET 2 (Galvan Rey 17; Djorkaeff 68 - Moreno 45)
After seeing their bid to return to the MLS Cup Final come to a crashing halt last season - the 4-0 loss at home to the Chicago Fire in the Eastern Conference Semifinals left them winless on four competitive fronts last year - D.C. United have done little re-tooling in the offseason. So nearly all the pieces from a year ago return as the winningest club in MLS history look for a fifth title in 11 seasons.
United completed their preseason campaign on Saturday night in the Carolina Challenge Cup in Charleston, S.C. with a 1-1 draw with the USL First Division host, the Charleston Battery. Jaime Moreno scored the lone goal of the game for United, from the penalty spot in the 20th minute. It was his third goal in as many games in the competition.
"It wasn't our sharpest night," said United coach Peter Nowak. "The beginning of the first half I though we played pretty well, but we didn't keep it up the entire game which is something we are going to need to do."
Here's Peter Nowak's team on the night: Troy Perkins, Brandon Prideaux (45: John Wilson), Facundo Erpen, Josh Gros (76: Devon McTavish), Bobby Boswell, Freddy Adu (84: Jeff Carroll), Christian Gomez (64: Rod Dyachenko (84: Matt Nickell), Brian Carroll (84: Domenic Mediate), Clyde Simms (45: Justin Moose), Lucio Filomeno (45: Alecko Eskandarian), Jaime Moreno (64: Jamil Walker)
"I wanted to give some of the guys who haven't played some time before the season," Nowak said. "Everyone needs to be ready for next week, not just the starters."
United opened the competition with a 1-0 victory against the New York Red Bulls, as Moreno's scored the game's only goal in the 56th minute. Here's Nowak's team in that First Kick preview: Troy Perkins, Brandon Prideaux, Facundo Erpen, Bobby Boswell, Freddy Adu, Christian Gomez (45: Justin Moose), Brian Carroll, Josh Gros (82: Domenic Mediate), Clyde Simms (45: Rod Dyachenko), Lucio Filomeno (74: Jamil Walker), Jaime Moreno (89: Devon McTavish).
Then in the second game in the week-long event, United and the Houston Dynamo played to a 1-1 draw as Alejandro Moreno and Jaime Moreno traded goals two minutes apart midway through the first half.
United will be without starting goalkeeper Nick Rimando for the season opener, after he aggravated a sprain in his left foot during the Charleston trip.
"Another week to two weeks, hopefully less than that," said Rimando to The Washington Post, while not ruling out the possibility of needing surgery. "I want to make sure I'm 100 percent healthy before I go out there again."
Troy Perkins will be the starter between the posts for United against New York. "Troy has looked good in training," said United goalkeeper coach Mark Simpson to the Post. "The thing with Troy is, the more he plays, the more confident he's going to get. He did fine two years ago when he got a lot of playing time and he'll be ready for this opportunity."
Also, United will also be without veteran defender Bryan Namoff for an extended period, said the Post. Namoff, a starter on the 2004 championship squad, was out for much of training camp with a groin injury. Last year, Namoff missed half the season with a variety of injuries and had hernia surgery.
Forwards Alecko Eskandarian and Santino Quaranta have overcome groin and hamstring injuries to be ready for selection for the Sunday opener.
Freddy Adu is ready for his third professional season with United. With the addition of Lucio Filomeno to the United attack and Christian Gomez still in the playmaking role, Adu is figuring wide on the left of midfield.
"There are no excuses this year. I used what happened last season as a motivation for this year," Adu said to the Charleston Post and Courier. 'I came into the preseason with the attitude that I wasn't going to give anyone an excuse for not putting me out there on the field. I don't want there to be any doubts that I don't deserve to be out there at the start of the game."
Said Peter Nowak: "Freddy has trained very hard during the preseason and I think it's been very important that he's been here from the very beginning. We're very pleased with his development. I'm very proud of how much he has progressed during his career. He's a much better player today than he was two years ago."
NEW YORK RED BULLS
It's a new name, a new attitude and a new beginning for the Giants Stadium-based club, after the makers of the energy drink became the league's newest investor-operator, taking over the club formerly known as the MetroStars. Mo Johnston - who took over the coaching reins at the very end of last season - is back in charge and has spent the offseason trying to shore up the club's attack - something he might well have done in the days leading to the season opener.
The Red Bulls concluded their preseason schedule with three consecutive shutout losses in the Carolina Challenge Cup in Charleston, S.C. They finished the event with a 3-0 loss to the Houston Dynamo on March 25, as Brian Ching, Ryan Cochrane and Brian Mullan scored for the Dynamo.
"I really don't think the score was indicative of our effort defensively. We'll go to work on Tuesday, and hope to sort some things out up front before Sunday," Johnston said.
Here's Johnston's team on the night: Tony Meola, Marvell Wynne (77: David Arvizu), Jeff Parke (45: Carlos Mendes), Taylor Graham, Ante Jazic, Seth Stammler, Danny O'Rourke, Eddie Gaven, Mike Magee, Youri Djorkaeff, Thiago Martins (64: Peter Canero)
At midweek in the tournament, the Red Bulls lost 1-0 to the USL First Division host Charleston Battery, a result Johnston called "unacceptable."
"Our problem is we can't put the ball in the back of the net," said Johnston. " ... There were certain guys who underachieved tonight. I told them who they were. You know who they were. Everyone here tonight knows who they were."
The tournament opened for New York with a 1-0 loss to D.C. United, as Jaime Moreno scored the game's only goal. Here's Johnston's team for the match: Tony Meola, Marvell Wynne, Jeff Parke, Taylor Graham, Carlos Mendes (53: Steve Jolley), Adrian Serioux (51: Mark Lisi), Eddie Gaven, Amado Guevara, Mike Magee (58: Thiago Martins), Seth Stammler, Youri Djorkaeff.
Then in the week immediately leading up to the opener, the Red Bulls were very active in the market. First, they obtained striker Edson Buddle from the Columbus Crew for midfielder Eddie Gaven and the rights to defender Chris Leitch. While the New Jersey native Gaven moved to Ohio after three years with his "hometown" club, Buddle is also a local product, hailing from New Rochelle, N.Y.
"We're bringing Edson back home and make no mistake about it, we're bringing him back here to score goals," said Red Bulls president and general manager Alexi Lalas. "That was the message I relayed to him and he understands that."
Johnston added: "As a center forward and a 24-year-old man, I need to get Edson Buddle on that national team. That will be my goal. My goal initially will be [for him] to score goals on a regular basis in this league and then get onto the national team."
In addition, the Red Bulls announced Honduras international midfielder Amado Guevara has obtained his green card, which frees up another senior international slot for the club, having earlier opened one with the trade of midfielder Adrian Serioux to Houston Dynamo for Danny O'Rourke. The team also said their home opener on April 8 will be played on natural grass at Giants Stadium.
16-year-old Josmer Altidore will also join the club for the first two matches of the season. Currently a part of the U.S. Soccer residency program in Bradenton, Fla., Altidore was expected to join the club mid-season.
"Bringing Jozy Altidore up for the next two games I think is important," said Johnston. "He has to learn from the experienced players on our team - your Tony Meolas, your Youri Djorkaeffs, your Amado Guevaras and obviously the rest of the squad this year."
Johnston also predicted big things for No. 1 overall pick for Marvell Wynne. The Red Bulls obtained the first overall pick in this year's SuperDraft from Chivas USA in a draft day deal for Jason Hernandez, and took Wynne.
"He's had a tremendous camp," said Johnston of Wynne. "His pace is unbelievable and his recovery is tremendous. There's no doubt in my eyes that you're going to see a Rookie of the Year come the end of the season. There's no one running by him and he just needs to get better in his positioning. Mark my words, he's going to be Rookie of the Year come the end of the season."