D.C. United at Saprissa
What: Champions League, group stage.
Where: Saprissa Stadium, San Jose, Costa Rica.
When: 10 p.m. TV: Fox Soccer Channel.
Radio: WTOP (1050 AM), English.
Standings: Marathon (Honduras) 2-1-1, Cruz Azul (Mexico) 2-1-1, Saprissa (Costa Rica) 2-1, United 0-3.
Outlook: Consumed by dwindling MLS playoff hopes and weakened by injuries, United has brought a mostly reserve squad comprising 16 players to Saprissa's famed La Cueva del Monstruo, the Monster's Cave, in search of its first goal and first point in the regional tournament. Left behind were three injured starters -- F Luciano Emilio (hamstring), and MFs Marcelo Gallardo (knee) and Fred (hamstring) -- as well as F Jaime Moreno, MFs Ivan Guerrero, Clyde Simms and Santino Quaranta, Ds Gonzalo Peralta and Bryan Namoff, and GK Louis Crayton. Many of those players will rejoin the team in Houston this weekend for a critical league match. United probably needs to win its final three regular season games to reach the playoffs. The club is 1-7-2 in its past 10 games in all competitions and 2-6-1 against foreign opposition this year. Saprissa, which defeated United, 2-0, in the first game of group play at RFK Stadium on Sept. 16, is also expected to be without several regulars, called up to the Costa Rican national team for two World Cup qualifiers. Each team in the group will play six games, and the top two will advance to next year's quarterfinals.
-- Steven Goff