United holds off desperate Houston challenge

Luciano Emilio’s second goal in consecutive games was enough for D.C. United as they defeated the visiting Houston Dyanmo 1-0. The victory for United propelled them temporarily into second place in the Eastern Conference. United, which has started slowly in each of the past two seasons, has gone three matches without losing to start the season.

United head coach Tom Soehn made two notable changes to the starting lineup for the Black and Red. Back in goal for the first time this season was first choice keeper Louis Crayton and the debut of French striker Ange N’ Silu. While the Frenchman had a slow start to the game, his size and pace created a few dangerous chances for United. Twice N’ Silu snuck behind the Dynamo defense and centered balls through the penalty area that failed to have any United player connect with. Ben Olsen made the wrong run on the 45th minute attempt from N’Silu and a dangerous scooted across the goal line begging for a United player to tap home. As it was both teams went to the locker room tied a 0-0, a rather deserving scoreline for the lack of flair in the first 45 minutes

It only took about 90 seconds for the game to finally get into higher gear as United took the lead in the 47th minute. United defender Bryan Namoff sent a curling ball over the top of the Dynamo defense from just about the midfield stripe. Former United defender Bobby Boswell badly mis-timed his leaping clearance of the ball by jumping too early and the United’s Designated Player sprang into action. Emilio ghosted in behind the clumsy Boswell and beat the onrushing Pat Onstad to the ball and toe-poked a lob over the goalkeeper and watched as Boswell and Richard Mulrooney desperately tried to prevent the ball from going over the goal line. The ball bounced straight up off the goal line and hit the underside of the crossbar before settling into the net to send the 12,594 fans into delirium at RFK.  The goal for United energized both teams and they traded dangerous scoring chances just a few minutes later. Houston nearly equalized in the 52nd minute when Ricardo Clark got hold of a ball ping-ponging in the area and sent a shot goal bound only to see Namoff’s lunging effort spear the ball out of the goal. Just two minutes later United’s pair of impressive rookies combined for United’s second best effort of the night. Rodney Wallace, who admittedly struggled in the first half against the well organized Dynamo defense, pulled off the individual move of the night when he skinned two Dynamo players along the left sideline and whipped in a cross to fellow rookie Chris Pontius who’s rocket header just flew over the bar. Pontius had another header well saved just four minutes later when Onstad fell to his left to smother the chance. That would be the end of United’s offensive efforts for the evening as the game completely changed in the 71st minute.

Jaime Moreno, on the field for all of six minutes, was shown a straight red from referee Baldomero Toledo on his sliding tackle on a Houston midfielder. Moreno’s poor start to the season continued as it seemed on replay that the straight red seemed to be a bit harsh. None the less United sat back and defended for the remainder of the match and got some very good play from a defense that has been less than stellar over the first part of this season and most of last season. Defenisve blunders had followed this team around but none were to be found tonight as Louis Crayton played his usual aggressive style in the goal challenging for all balls in the box and was rewaded with United’s first shutout of the season. While Crayton was busing keeping the clean sheet, only one shot really troubled the Liberian all night when Brad Davis’ 81st minute rocket from 25 yards was palmed off the crossbar and the ensuing foul called on Brian Ching helped relieve United’s pressure and the Black and Red held on as a barrage of crosses in the next tem minutes  amounted to nothing and United get their first win of the season.

United Notes

Jaime Moreno will miss next weeks match in Salt Lake City due to his red card. United has had a less than impressive history against Real Salt Lake in Utah. United won their initial match at RSL in 2005 by a 5-1 score. Since then United has posted three straight losses being outscored 8-2 in those matches.

– Talked with Santino Quaranta just as the game was ending outside the pressbox and was impressed in seeing him doing stretches while fully clothed in jeans and a pullover top. He said he is eager to get back on the field and should be ready for next weeks match in Utah. (foot note: Martin also talked to him before the match and tino said he was “itching” to get back in – he should be ready next week).

– Devon McTavish was held off the 18 man roster in favor of Greg Janicki who made a late appearance for United tonight to help solidify their first shutout.

Match Gallery – Photos by Chris Bannon

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