Eskandarian Is In Right Spot For D.C. United
Starting in Place of Adu, Forward Scores to Earn Tie: United 1, Burn 1
By Todd Jorgenson
Special to The Washington Post
Sunday, June 27, 2004; Page E01
DALLAS, June 26 -- Alecko Eskandarian is just happy to be contributing. D.C. United coaches and teammates are happy his contributions have been so timely.
Eskandarian, starting his second straight game, evened the score with a sliding goal in the 58th minute Saturday as United rallied for a 1-1 tie with the Dallas Burn in front of 13,833 fans at the soggy Cotton Bowl.
His goal came following a flurry in front of the Burn net and a cross from Bobby Convey. It was far from United's best scoring chance of the afternoon, but it was the only one that counted.
Dallas forward Jason Kreis, meantime, became the league's all-time goals leader with a first-half goal. It was Kreis's 89th career goal, surpassing previous record holder Roy Lassiter, and his 11th against United.
With the tie, United (4-5-5) could not get back to .500 for the first time since May 15. D.C. is 1-3-3 on the road this season.
Eskandarian earned MLS player of the week honors after scoring two goals -- his first since the season opener -- in last week's 3-1 win over Columbus. On Saturday, he started for 15-year-old Freddy Adu for the second straight week.
And unlike last week, Eskandarian stayed in the game until the final minute. Adu replaced Eskandarian in the 69th minute against Columbus. On Saturday, Adu entered in the 76th minute for Jaime Moreno.
Adu played the final 14 minutes, the shortest stint of his 14-game career with United. He had few touches and did not take any shots.
Eskandarian's return from injury last week and his subsequent outburst of three goals in two games has left Adu, for now, as the third forward in a three-man rotation among the two attacking spots.
"We've got a lot of weapons," said Eskandarian, who became the club's season leader with four goals. "We've been dangerous offensively all year, but we've just been unlucky."
United continued its aggressive attack after scoring a season-high three goals a week ago against Columbus. But despite controlling possession for much of the first half, United was not able to put many of those offensive chances on net.
"We had a couple of chances in the first half, then we got the goal off a situation we shouldn't have," said United Coach Peter Nowak. "I was really pleased with the effort in the second half. We made some adjustments, and the players responded well."
Kreis's historic goal came in the 37th minute, on a spinning left-footed dribbler after Oscar Pareja's ball slipped through traffic in the penalty area. United goalkeeper Troy Perkins got a hand on the shot, but it deflected into the right corner of the net.
"That was a typical Jason Kreis goal," said Kreis, who had many friends and family in attendance for the occasion. "The ball was bouncing around in the box, and I was there to finish it. Definitely not one of the prettiest ones I've scored."
United is winless in its past seven games at the Cotton Bowl, a six-year streak. United won at Dallas last season, 3-1, in the previous meeting between the teams. But that game was played in suburban Southlake, the Burn's one-year home in 2003.
Dallas (4-4-4) is preparing to move next season from the aging Cotton Bowl to a soccer-only stadium 45 minutes away in the suburbs, a move that will no doubt please United.
United fell to 1-6-2 in its last nine games against the Burn. It has not won at the Cotton Bowl since a 1-0 victory on Aug. 7, 1998, although Saturday's tie broke a six-game losing streak there. United will visit Dallas once more on July 24. The Burn extended its unbeaten streak to four games.
United's best threat in the first half came in the 20th minute. Eskandarian lobbed a cross to Convey in front of an open net after Dallas goalkeeper Jeff Cassar became stranded more than 30 yards from his goal. But Convey's shot sailed wide left.
Newly acquired defender Ezra Hendrickson made his first start for United after being signed on Tuesday. Hendrickson, who picked up a yellow card in the first half, was traded from Dallas (where he played last season and which still had his rights) for a fifth-round draft pick in 2005 and future considerations. He had spent much of this season with the A-League Charleston Battery.
© 2004 The Washington Post Company