Burch's 2 Goals Bail Out United

By Steven Goff
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, July 2, 2008

D.C. United had grown tired of failing in the U.S. Open Cup, fed up with humiliating losses to lower-division clubs and disappointing efforts by secondary players. But for 78 minutes last night, United found itself in a familiar and discouraging situation: locked in a scoreless round-of-16 match with the last-place team from the second division.

Marc Burch's left foot, however, prevented another upset.

Burch scored on a pair of free kicks, the first on a 30-yard rocket with about 12 minutes remaining, as United subdued the Rochester Rhinos, 2-0, before 2,752 at Maryland SoccerPlex in Boyds.

United, which lost to third-tier Harrisburg in the 94-year-old tournament last summer, will return to the upper Montgomery County complex Tuesday and face the Chicago Fire in the quarterfinals.

Playing just two days after a 4-1 league victory over Los Angeles at RFK Stadium, United turned to several young players and reserves against the Rhinos, who are last in 11-team USL1, one level down from MLS. Despite having the better of play, United missed several early scoring chances and seemed destined for overtime when Burch struck twice.

On Sunday, Burch lashed a free kick from 30-plus yards off the crossbar. Last night, he found the target.

"I saw the goalie was a little bit shielded by the wall so I just went up and tried to hit it as hard as I could," Burch said. "I went low. I'm sick of hitting the crossbar."

On the second goal, from about 20 yards, his low drive deflected off the defensive wall and past committed goalkeeper Scott Vallow.

"He laced it pretty good," Vallow said of the first goal. "It was tailing away from me, kind of knuckled a little bit. I got a hand on it, but it wasn't enough."

For United, the game provided an opportunity to assess the reserves. Marcelo Gallardo and Bryan Namoff, 90-minute contributors Sunday, were not in uniform. Neither were injured starters Jaime Moreno (abdominal strain) and Santino Quaranta (hamstring). Regular starters Clyde Simms and Fred began the evening on the bench.

United retained four starters from Sunday's match: forward Luciano Emilio, defenders Devon McTavish and Gonzalo Martínez, and keeper Zach Wells. A pair of regulars, Burch and Rod Dyachenko, were also in the lineup.

Coach Tom Soehn filled the other four slots with forward Francis Doe, just back from Liberian national team duty, and rookies Pat Carroll, Dan Stratford and Ryan Cordeiro.

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