By Steven Goff
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, October 13, 2008
HOUSTON, Oct. 12 D.C. United goalkeeper Louis Crayton was chatting with well-wishers outside the club's locker room following a 0-0 tie with the Dynamo on Sunday night when, he said, a Houston fan directed a racial slur at him.
Crayton, who is black, leapt over a barrier and attempted to confront the man before security and United General Manager Dave Kasper restrained the native of Liberia.
"It is so sad that he would say that to me," Crayton said. "I am saying hi to the fans and he walked up to me and told me, 'Hey, you're a monkey, go back to the jungle.' I told him, 'Hey, you can't say that to me. I am not a monkey, I am a human being like you.' I jumped over to ask him why he insulted me, and he kept going."
Robertson Stadium officials escorted the fan off the premises and barred him from games indefinitely. The Dynamo also contacted MLS about the incident and further action may be taken.
There is a very narrow buffer zone between fans exiting the venue and the player ramp toward the locker room.
Crayton, signed in August after a long career in Switzerland, said it was the first time he has heard such comments since arriving in MLS. Earlier this year, a Columbus fan shouted a racial epithet at New England's Kheli Dube, a forward from Zimbabwe who is black.
The incident overshadowed an excellent performance by Crayton and a critical tie for United (10-14-4) in pursuit of a playoff berth. Though its winless streak in league play reached seven (0-4-3), United remains two points out of the postseason with two games remaining.
Houston (11-5-11) had already clinched a playoff berth, but with its lead atop the West standings dwindling, the Dynamo played with its usual conviction and dominated the second half. It had a man advantage for the final 17 minutes after United defender Bryan Namoff was red-carded.
United withstood relentless pressure, and after Namoff's ejection Crayton pulled down several dangerous high balls and made a diving save on Dwayne De Rosario's header. Crayton injured his right shoulder on that play in added time and will be reevaluated in Washington.
United Coach Tom Soehn said his team "was passionate about the way we defended and knowing what it takes to get a result here. It was a real positive step for us."
Roster issues limited Soehn's options, particularly on the attack. Playmaker Marcelo Gallardo (knee) and wing Fred (hamstring) will miss the remainder of the regular season and team captain Jaime Moreno completed his two-game suspension for a red card. Leading scorer Luciano Emilio (hamstring) was available, but with United emphasizing defense late in the game, he did not enter.
Thabiso Khumalo lined up as the lone forward with Santino Quaranta providing support. Clyde Simms and Joe Vide paired in defensive midfield and Devon McTavish and Iván Guerrero were on the flanks.
Each team created a handful of chances in the first half, though neither goalkeeper had to make a difficult save. Houston had the better of play after the break, stretching the D.C. midfield and defense.
Crayton disrupted a threat with a courageous -- and dangerous -- jaunt 30 yards outside his penalty area, clearing the ball from De Rosario. Later, De Rosario stung a 25-yard bid on the run that narrowly missed the lower left corner and, on another threat, Houston pleaded for a handball on Crayton outside the box.
Matters deteriorated for United in the 73rd minute when Namoff was shown his second yellow card and ejected by referee Baldomero Toledo. His first card came early in the half for time wasting, the second for challenging Brad Davis from behind on a header. It was a foul, no doubt, but the card seemed extreme. Nonetheless, United found itself undermanned for the third time in the last four league matches.
"I was in the air as he bent down, and as he bent down, my momentum went with it," said Namoff, who will miss Thursday's game against New England. "It was completely an accidental knock. Not allowing a 50-50 challenge at that point of the game in a 0-0 tie just shows the complete error. . . . I really don't understand why the referees need to try to dictate the games when they are so close."