Thursday, March 15, 2007

A Gutsy Finish by D.C. United -- Emilio Does it Again! Things were looking pretty grim for the home side, as the game clock reached 90:00, with D.C. United trailing 1-0. Despite being the better side in the first half, United couldn't put together any really dangerous chances. The rain seemed to be getting to them, especially Jaime Moreno, who seemed a step slow, winded, and just maybe showing his age for the first time. Their new Brazilian sensation, Luciano Emilio also seemed to be struggling in the rain. United's top threat in the first half seemed to be Josh Gros, but even he was only able to produce one good shot. On the defensive end, United looked a little shaky, but held the scoreless tie thanks to a nice save by Troy Perkins, and some strong defensive clearances by Bryan Namoff.

In the second half, CD Guadalajara (Chivas) started to find the holes in the United defense. After some close shaves, the D.C. wall finally gave, when Omar Bravo's header deflected off the charging Namoff's leg and into the United goal. United goalie Troy Perkins may have had Bravo's header covered, but he had no chance, when the deflection sent the shot just inside the near post. Down a goal, with their backs to the wall, United did pick up their game. Jaime Moreno, especially started to look dangerous, and he nearly had the tying goal on a slicing blast that the Chivas 'keeper was able to get his hands on. As the game clock wound towards 90:00, United seemed to be out of luck, out of chances and out of steam.

Just when United seemed beaten, the home team got a great opportunity. A foul was called in the 90th minute, giving United a free kick just outside the box. In fact, it seemed one more disappointment, as United probably deserved a penalty kick. The referee, however, ruled the foul occurred outside the box. The game slipped into stoppage time, as Christian Gomez approached the ball. Hearts stopped for a few seconds, as Gomez lifted the ball across the goal. Somehow, Gomez' kick found the head of the charging Luciano Emilio, whose header miraculously tied the game.

Emilio had scored in his two prior outings in a United uniform, but it seemed the dreamlike start to his tenure with United about to bump up against reality. In one improbable moment Emilio kept his goal-scoring streak alive, and saved United's chances of advancing to the Champions' Cup final.

Of course, United has a tough task in their rematch in Mexico -- much tougher than does the Houston Dynamo, who have a two goals to none lead in their series against Pachuca. United has to go into the Estadio Jalisco and beat the home team. This will be no easy task, but it's a lot more realistic than it would've been, but for the game-saving Gomez-Emilio effort in stoppage time tonight.

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