United Ousted From Copa Sudamericana

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Friday, September 23, 2005

D.C. United wasted a two-goal first-half lead and was eliminated from the Copa Sudamericana by Universidad Catolica, 3-2, last night in Santiago, Chile.

Christian Gomez scored a pair of goals to put the defending MLS champions ahead 2-0 after just 27 minutes. All United needed was to finish in a 2-2 tie to advance to the quarterfinals of the 12-nation, 34-team Latin American tournament.

But Jorge Quinteros scored for Catolica in the 40th minute, Dario Conca tied it in the 78th and Quinteros won it in the 86th.

The teams had played to a 1-1 tie last week at RFK Stadium in the first leg of the two-game series. By scoring twice last night, United would have won the away-goals tiebreaker.

United took the lead in the 14th minute when Jaime Moreno set up Gomez for an 18-yard shot into the lower left corner.

Moreno could have doubled the lead 10 minutes later, but missed a penalty kick after Jamil Walker was taken down in the box.

Nonetheless, United made it 2-0 in the 27th minute when Gomez played a short corner kick to Moreno, got the ball back and then curled a long, angled shot that struck the far post and bounced off goalkeeper Jose Buljubasich before falling into the net.

Eduardo Rubio set up Quinteros for his first goal and Conca scored the equalizer on a 23-yard free kick.

With time running out, Quinteros was left unmarked in the box for a six-yard shot past goalkeeper Nick Rimando.

Catolica will play Fluminense (Brazil) or Banfield (Argentina) in the quarterfinals next month.

United, the first MLS team invited to the tournament, will return to league play Oct. 1 against the New York/New Jersey MetroStars at Giants Stadium.

Mexican Coach Freed

Ruben Omar Romano, the coach of Mexican club Cruz Azul who was kidnapped in July, was freed this week in Mexico City.

Officials confirmed that the 47-year-old Romano had been freed in what local media described as a police raid in the low-income district on the eastern outskirts of the city.

Romano had been forced from a luxury car by five armed assailants and abducted outside his team's practice facility in southern Mexico City on July 19.

Romano walked out of a house escorted by agents of the Federal Investigative Agency, Mexico's equivalent of the FBI. Wearing a beard and a baseball cap, Romano looked tired but healthy.

"Thanks to the AFI, who saved my life," Romano said, adding that he felt well. "I'm happy to be alive."

Several people were detained in the raid, and television footage showed several young men being marched out of the house by police.

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© 2005 The Washington Post Company

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