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United Wins Again, Regular Season Ends

Adu Takes a Tumble in 3rd Straight Victory: United 3, MetroStars 2

By Steven Goff
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, October 18, 2004; Page D03

D.C. United experienced a wild range of emotions during its 3-2 victory over the New York/New Jersey MetroStars in the regular season finale yesterday before 19,832 at RFK Stadium:

• The elation of Argentine midfielder Christian Gomez's first multigoal game since arriving in August and Mike Petke's game-winner midway through the second half.

_____MLS Playoffs_____

United vs. MetroStars

Two-Game, Total-Goals Series

• Game 1: Saturday at Giants Stadium, East Rutherford, N.J., 7:30 p.m.

• Game 2: Oct. 30 at RFK Stadium 7 p.m.

TV: TBA.

_____ Monday Morning_____
 USC Coach Pete Carroll
A look back at the weekend and a look ahead at the coming week's action with a fresh new edge.

Norman Chad's Couch Slouch
Starting Lineup
The Chat: Harvard Business School professor Rosabeth Moss Kanter.
Two-Minute Drill
7 Days

_____ The Quote _____
"It was a great day for Dwayne. He's over the hump - he's not a pup anymore. He's not just out there competing, he's making plays."

-- USC Coach Pete Carroll, on Dwayne Jarrett, who caught five passes for 139 yards and three touchdowns in his first start, which USC won, 45-7.

_____ The Monday Morning Poll _____
Maryland went into its game against North Carolina State with a controversy over who should be the starting quarterback, and it will go into its game against Clemson with the same issue. Please help Maryland solve the question -- who should be the starter?
Joel Statham
Jordan Steffy
It doesn't matter
Who cares?

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_____United Basics_____
United Section
Roster
Schedule
Statistics
_____MetroStars Basics_____
MetroStars page
Roster
Schedule
Statistics

• The fury of another volatile match with the MetroStars, whom United will face in the first round of the MLS playoffs, beginning Saturday night at Giants Stadium.

• The disappointment of yielding an early goal and coming out flat after halftime.

• And the horror of watching 15-year-old Freddy Adu getting undercut and flipped onto his back at midfield, where he lay for several tense moments.

In the end, Adu was fine and so was United (11-10-9), which won a season-high third straight match, extended its home unbeaten streak to 10 and overtook the MetroStars (11-12-7) for second place in the Eastern Conference. The teams will face each other in a two-game, total-goals playoff series over the next two weekends, culminating with an Oct. 30 encounter in Washington.

Asked how he felt about his team's late-season resurgence, Coach Peter Nowak said: "Not complete. We see the team is capable of doing great stuff, but it's a long way to achieve what we want to achieve. This is the difference between a good team and a great team -- trophies. Everyone is talking about it, but not everyone is going to get it."

By winning five of its final six matches, United finished above .500 for the first time in five years and headed into the playoffs with the best home record in MLS (9-2-4). D.C. hasn't lost at RFK in five months, a 7-0-3 streak that began after a 4-2 loss to Los Angeles, and won the season series with the MetroStars with three victories and one defeat.

Adu, who had the first two-assist game of his career, started but didn't finish. Three minutes after setting up Petke's goal with a corner kick, Adu leaped for a high ball in front of the United bench and went flying backward when MetroStars defender Craig Ziadie crashed into him late. Adu landed on the back of his right shoulder, bending his body and sending him sprawling on the turf. Ziadie was ejected, meaning he'll miss the playoff opener.

"I almost died, but I feel great," Adu said with a nervous laugh. "After I hit the ground, I couldn't move for five seconds. Whatever, it's part of the game. It was pretty scary. Thank God I'm young."

Adu, who was knocked around throughout the match, was replaced by Brandon Prideaux after the scare. "Just a little headache, but I should be fine," he said.

The day started poorly for United as the MetroStars took the lead in the 14th minute. Midfielder Eddie Gaven, who will turn 18 next week, made a long run on the left before crossing into the box, where John Wolyniec made a near-post run and headed the ball past Nick Rimando for his 10th goal of the year.

But United tied it nine minutes later. Bryan Namoff sent a long ball that Jaime Moreno dummied exquisitely, letting it zip through the MetroStars' defense. Ben Olsen chased it down and bent a cross back through the box to Gomez, who smacked a 10-yard shot into the lower left corner.

Six minutes later, Moreno was crafting another threat, this time leading a counterattack by playing a give-and-go with Adu. On the run on the left, Moreno delivered a perfectly weighted ball over the defense and into the penalty area. Gomez ran onto it and lifted a right-footed shot over charging goalkeeper Jonny Walker, who collided with a retreating defender as the ball bounced into the vacant net. It was Gomez's third goal in the last two games and fourth in nine appearances.

"The goals have just been [part of] circumstances in the games," he said.

The MetroStars tied it five minutes into the second half, however, when Ricardo Clark ripped a shot from beyond 30 yards that streaked out of Rimando's reach and nestled into the right side of the net. Then in the 65th minute, Adu's corner kick found Petke crashing into the six-yard box for a powerful header into the top of the net and his first goal of the year.

Early in the day, "I said to my little guy, 'Daddy's going to score for you,' " said Petke, whose son was born last month. "My wife said, 'You better.' Honestly, I left the house and said, 'I'm not going to score.' I was fortunate enough to get one."


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