By Steven Goff
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, August 24, 2008
The first goal of D.C. United's 3-0 victory over the Colorado Rapids last night was a stunning blast off the right foot of a non-threatening midfielder who had been claimed off waivers in midseason. The second was a blazing strike by a fourth-choice playmaker in the midst of reviving his career. And the third was a simple putaway by a lightly used 20-year-old wing who had taken the field less than 30 seconds earlier.
Given his club's depleted roster and fickle performances this season, United Coach Tom Soehn will accept production from wherever he can discover it.
Missing six regulars and playing for the third time in eight days, United (10-10-1) turned to Joe Vide, Santino Quaranta and Quavas Kirk to break open what had been an unremarkable game before 17,283 at RFK Stadium.
"The guys we injected today showed some life," Soehn said. "Obviously, getting the stats is important but the way they energized the game, I thought they did a pretty good job."
Both Vide and Kirk scored the first regular season goals of their MLS careers, and in between, Quaranta continued his personal and professional comeback with his third of the year.
Goalkeeper Louis Crayton, supported by a three-man backline, registered his second shutout in three appearances as United spoiled Gary Smith's first game as Colorado's interim coach and Christian Gómez's return to Washington. Gómez, the Argentine midfielder who helped guide United to the 2004 MLS Cup and won the league's MVP award two years later before being traded last winter, was left out of the starting lineup for the second consecutive game and had little impact in 32 minutes of work.
United was slow to break down the conservative Rapids, who utilized only one forward and relied on counterattacks. But after Vide's goal just before halftime, United's lead was seldom in jeopardy as Colorado (7-11-3) extended its winless streak at RFK to 10 games.
Vide is a former Virginia Cavalier who was with New York for two seasons before being waived by San Jose last month. Because of United's mounting injury problems, he has received steady playing time, usually in a defensive midfield tandem with Clyde Simms. Vide had not scored in 32 previous league matches, and had placed only four shots on goal.
Luciano Emilio, United's leading scorer, set him up by collecting Iván Guerrero's long service and laying off the ball. Vide bashed a one-timer from 20 yards into the right side.
"I have seen a lot of [shots] go to the corner flags or over the goals," Vide said, "so it's nice to see one that finally goes into the goal."
Crayton secured the halftime advantage by making a soaring tip save on Nick LaBrocca's bid.
"He placed it very well," the Liberian keeper said. "I think he read that I was coming up a little and he tried to play it over me."
Vide nearly created a second goal in the 63rd minute when he confidently ran at the defense and pushed the ball into the path of Emilio, whose rising attempt from close range smashed off goalkeeper Preston Burpo's face.
Late in the game, without any substitutions remaining, Colorado was left shorthanded when Pablo Mastroeni injured a hamstring. Nonetheless, the Rapids had a chance to tie when Conor Casey beat two players and delivered a low ball that Crayton pushed out to Cory Gibbs, who missed badly.
A moment later, Quaranta raced into the right side of the penalty area and sent a thundering blast into the far top corner.
An emotional Quaranta said the goal was particularly special because it came on the 10-month anniversary of his sobriety. "I know I am doing the right thing and I know that good things happen," he said. "Now I can see that it's a reward. It's paying off, the hard work."
With Marcelo Gallardo and Fred injured and Jaime Moreno needed on the frontline, Quaranta has been moved from the flank into the playmaking role. His distribution was adequate last night, and the goal was a game-clincher. "He has battled through a lot of difficult things in his past, and he continues to make strides and get better and better," Soehn said.
Kirk, who had played 87 minutes in his first season with United, capped the evening by striding onto the field for Simms and putting away the rebound of Bryan Namoff's saved header in the 87th minute.
"It's taken a little longer than I'd like," Soehn said of building roster depth, "but we've had so much change with guys coming in and out and hurt, it's been tough to develop. The guys have been getting a little experience along the way and some of the young guys are understanding it. It's still not consistent enough, but we're making some strides."
United Notes: Midfielder Ben Olsen, whose ankle problems have limited him to 15 minutes of action, was included on the active roster for just the second time.