Short-Handed United Can't Catch a Break

By Kyle McCarthy
Special to The Washington Post
Thursday, August 21, 2008

FOXBOROUGH, Mass., Aug. 20 -- It's hard enough to win with nearly half of the starting lineup watching the game back in Washington. When luck deserted D.C. United in its 2-1 loss to New England on Wednesday night, all hopes were dashed.

Indications that luck wouldn't help United Wednesday night started in the 24th minute. The Revolution had carved United open with a Steve Ralston diagonal and a Khano Smith run.

Smith drove his cross low to the near post. United defender Marc Burch, again deployed in a makeshift role in the center of defense, looked as if he would be first to the ball to clear the danger.

"I couldn't see it until the last second," Burch said. "It came through Devin's legs. I went to kick it and [Adam] Cristman got a little piece of me. I couldn't get enough on it."

Not enough meant the clearance squibbed off to Taylor Twellman, six yards from the goal. Twellman doesn't miss from there and United found itself down a goal.

The response wasn't what United Coach Tom Soehn would have wanted. New England held most of the possession and created a couple of half-chances before halftime.

"They were doing a good job of keeping the ball and winning the second balls," Moreno said. "We had a big gap in the middle. We sorted it out in the second half and things were different."

The differences wouldn't show before New England had scored a peculiar second goal four minutes after halftime. Jeff Larentowicz lined up one of his trademark long-distance drives and fired toward goal. The ball appeared to swerve and catch goalkeeper Louis Crayton diving the wrong way.

"The ball took a deflection," Crayton said. "I had two players before me. When I did see the ball, it took a deflection. There was nothing I could do. I saw it going to the side I was going to and all of a sudden, it took a swing."

Momentum swung soon after Crayton was caught off-guard. United's offense had relied on Fred's running and not much else to that point, but Jaime Moreno started to latch on to the ball and influence the game.

"He decided to put himself in good spots to find the game," Soehn said. "When he does that, good things happen."

United felt good things should have included a 57th minute penalty after Fred eluded Jay Heaps on the byline and the Revolution defender reached out and tugged on his shorts before the Brazilian midfielder fell to the ground.

"I'm disappointed on the no-call on Fred in the box," Soehn said. "I can't wait to look at it again. From my memory, it was 100 percent a penalty."

The goal United sought finally came after Moreno played a through ball to Fred's lateral run. Heaps deflected Fred's shot right to Moreno, who chipped to Doug Warren to give United hope.

Fred limped off with a left hamstring injury after the goal and much of United's invention went with him. United applied pressure and Moreno tried to conjure the chance required to grab the equalizer, but to no avail.

United Notes: Fred said through an interpreter he felt a pull in his left hamstring, which will be examined further once the team returns to Washington on Thursday. . . .

Zach Wells didn't travel after suffering an injury to his big toe.

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