There will be a day in the very near future when D.C. United will have to survive without Jaime Moreno. Until that day comes, United can always rely on their wily veteran striker to give the team a boost when they need it most. Last night at RFK, United was indeed in need of that boost as a lackluster first half gave way to some old United magic as MLS’ all-time leading goal scorer scored a penalty just two minutes after coming on and United was on their way to an easy 3-1 victory over the visiting Colorado Rapids before 18,248 at RFK Stadium.
United, coming off of a 35 day break between league home matches, came out strong and should have been up early when Boyzzz Khumalo missed a breakaway in the 6th minute. Just eight minutes later the visitors had a shock lead when Bryan Namoff misplayed a long goal kick and inexplicably sent the ball over Josh Wicks and into the net for an own-goal and 1-0 lead for Colorado. The rest of the half saw United growing increasingly frustrated at their poor play and went into the locker room down by a goal.
That lasted all of about two minutes. Jaime Moreno subbed in for Khumalo at the break and made an immediate impact when his through-ball to Christian Gomez resulted in a clumsy Pablo Mastroeni tackle in the penalty area and a resulting PK. Moreno thundered his shot just under the crossbar to tie the match at 1-1. A bit of luck came United’s way in the 51st minute when United midfielder Fred was fortunate not to be sent off for a tackle that ended the evening for Colorado defender Cory Gibbs. The Brazilians late tackle saw the bottom of his cleat make contact just below the kneecap of Gibbs. Neither referee Ricardo Salazar or any of his assistants saw the rash challenge as it was after Gibbs had cleared the ball away.
United’s luck continued in the 56th minute when they scored a rare goal off of a corner kick. Christian Gomez whipped in a low line-drive that was met at the near post by a parallel to the ground Bryan Namoff who’s rocket header gave Mastroeni no chance on the post. The game-winner was sweet justice for Namoff as his own-goal had soured his first half performance. United was not done there and pure hustle and skill supplied the third and final goal of the evening for the Black and Red. In the 61st minute, Christian Gomez battled Rapids defender Scott Palguta to the end line and somehow managed to poke the ball towards the penalty spot just before the ball went out of bounds. Fred pounced on the loose ball and with his back to the goal, held onto the ball long enough for Luciano Emilio to run into the box and easily slot the ball into the empty net for one of the prettiest and skillful sequences of the season for United.
United, now with a rare two-goal lead this season, played out the remaining thirty minutes without conceding any real threatening chances save for an 87th minute shot that deflected off Marc Burch and off of the crossbar and over the goal.
D.C. United’s next league match is the start of another three game road trip beginning with a match in San Jose next weekend. Before that however, United will play their U.S. Open Cup semi-final match against the Rochester Raging Rhinos (USL-1) at the Maryland SoccerPlex this Tuesday evening at 7:30 pm. If United advances against the Rhinos, they will host the final at RFK Stadium on September 2nd against either the Houston Dynamo or Seattle Sounders FC