United at Marathon

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

What: CONCACAF Champions League group match.

Where: Olimpico Metropolitano Stadium, San Pedro Sula, Honduras.

When: 10 p.m.

TV: Fox Soccer Channel.

Radio: WTOP (1050 AM), English; WACA (1540 AM), Spanish.

Group Standings: Marathon 1-0, Saprissa (Costa Rica) 1-0, United 0-1, Cruz Azul (Mexico) 0-1.

Outlook: After losing at home to Saprissa last week in the first of six games, United needs to win tonight or next Wednesday against Cruz Azul at RFK Stadium to remain in realistic contention for a top-two finish and a quarterfinal berth in this inaugural regional tournament.

Injuries continue to hinder Coach Tom Soehn's preparations: MF Marcelo Gallardo and F Jaime Moreno, the club's most creative players, remain sidelined and MF Joe Vide is out. Team president Kevin Payne said yesterday that the club is hopeful Gallardo (adductor strain) will return from a rehabilitation stint in his native Argentina this weekend and perhaps play a portion of the Cruz Azul match.

D Gonzalo Peralta, whose playing time has been limited for months with hernia and hamstring injuries, might return tonight. D Devon McTavish is serving a red card suspension.

United is in a tight spot, coming off a 5-2 regular season loss at Los Angeles and having to travel to Dallas this weekend for a critical league match. Soehn is taking the tournament seriously, but with his team in a tight race to reach the MLS playoffs, he will need to carefully manage playing time tonight.

Several current and former Honduran national team players are with Marathon, which opened group play with a surprising 2-0 victory over visiting Cruz Azul.

-- Steven Goff

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