Saturday, May 26, 2007

Party Time at RFK -- United Wins 2-1: A mosh pit broke out just inside of Gate E, as D.C. United fans celebrated their team's victory over the defending MLS' champs, the Houston Dynamo. United looked pretty good -- this was the team's most complete game, and they deserved the win.

My story? I just missed a Metro train, and it was almost 15 minutes until the next one. So, it was into my car, for a quick sprint around the belt, and down to RFK. $12 for parking??!!?? Anyway, I got a ticket, then a beer, and made my way to a seat, just in time to see Christian Gomez being brought down outside the 18-yd. box, about three minutes into the game. Gomez took the ensuing free kick, which he curled over the wall and just inside the near post. He was clearly very satisfied with his effort, as he played to the Barra Brava.

Later in the first half, it was Gomez again, with a nifty bit of skill to make some space at the top of the box, and slot a pass diagonally through the box ahead of Ben Olsen. The pass was perfectly timed, and Olsen drove his first touch right past Pat Onstad, the Dynamo goalkeeper, giving United a convincing 2-0 lead.

On the other end of the field, Troy Perkins was both lucky and good. Twice, he stretched over everybody to punch out dangerous corner kicks. On one crossing pass, Perkins slid over and found himself in just the right place, as Brian Ching's header went right into Perkins' midsection (Ching shot wide a few minutes earlier on another open header). A little later, Brad Davis sent a blistering shot on goal, but Perkins elevated to deflect it over the bar. While the Dynamo created more chances, United did more with their chances.

Last year's MVP, Gomez played his best game of this MLS' season, as he had several dangerous runs from midfield, through the defense. United's best player, though, was Perkins, who played a spectacular game. The most memorable play came midway through the second half, after Josh Gros handled a ball in the box. Brian Ching took the penalty shot, and Perkins guessed right -- he dove to his right and got enough of his hand on the ball to deflect it into the goalpost, before rebounded back into play. A minute later, the magical Dwayne De Rosario dribbled into the box, then made a sweet move, stopping, while defenders flew by him. With lots of space to shoot, DDR knocked home the Dynamo's lone goal. Perkins had no chance on that goal, but he was good enough to deny the Dynamo on a number of good chances.

NOTES: There was a Rod Dyachenko sighting, as the big Ukranian/man without a country, came on as a late sub for Gomez. Dyachenko looked much more confident than I have ever seen. He had a wonderful run in the 88th minute, before being taken down just outside the box. The foul was obvious to everyone but the officials. This was actually the ref's second huge omission. In the first half, with United winning just 1-0, Guy-Rowland Kpene was knocked off a long pass in the box by Eddie Robinson's shoulder charge. Kpene had the position, and Robinson's play should have drawn a penalty shot, but the ref waved play on.

Kpene started in place of Jaime Moreno, who is playing for his Bolivian national team. Besides the takedown that wasn't called, Kpene had one really nice move, but he couldn't finish, as he pushed his shot a bit wide. Luciano Emilio played a fairly strong game -- nothing like his sensational CONCACAF Champions' Cup efforts, but probably the best game he's played in MLS' competition. The United defense played pretty well against a very talented opponent -- though they allowed a number of good chances, it's hard to argue with a 2-1 win. All-in-all, there were plenty of reasons for United fans' post-game party.

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