Marathon Beats D.C. United, 4-2, in CONCACAF Champions League Soccer

By Steven Goff
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, October 30, 2008

D.C. United's dreary season ended last night with two red cards and crippling defensive breakdowns, with sufficient effort but insufficient execution and, on a chilly evening before a sparse crowd at RFK Stadium, with yet another defeat. In other words, it was like so many of its previous 46 matches this year.

Honduran club Marathon was the latest -- and last -- opponent to seize on United's shortcomings, scoring three goals in the second half for a 4-2 victory in the CONCACAF Champions League.

"It feels like it's all a dream," said midfielder Santino Quaranta, who was ejected just before halftime for disputing a call. "We need to get away from this place for a little bit."

Three days after failing to qualify for the MLS playoffs, United completed group play in the regional championship with an 0-5-1 record and finished the year with a 17-24-6 mark in all competitions.

While Marathon (3-1-1) needed to keep pace with Saprissa (Costa Rica) and Cruz Azul (Mexico) for the group's two berths in next year's quarterfinals, United wanted to end things on a positive note. It was proceeding nicely, locked in a 1-1 tie, when Quaranta was sent off.

Francis Doe, who gave D.C. the lead in the 10th minute and hit the left post in the 34th, was ejected late in the game for a serious foul, increasing United's red card total to five in the past three Champions League matches and six overall. The team received six red cards in 30 league games.

"What we have to understand as a team is, when you have international refs, everyone treats things differently," said United Coach Tom Soehn, who was thrown out of the Saprissa game three weeks ago. "I am not sure how far Santino pushed it there. There was some aggravation on Francis's [red card]. He has to control himself."

The game turned edgy just before the half and contributed to United's ornery mood. Doe was popped in the mouth, drawing blood, and Quaranta got upset when Mexican referee Benito Achundia whistled him for a foul.

"I just lost my head," said Quaranta, who had set up Doe's goal with a free kick. "I was angry about the call. I didn't touch the guy. I just felt bad for our guys, watching them run around with 10 men because of me."

With United undermanned, Marathon used its superior quickness and scoring ability to take control before an announced crowd of 7,156. Mario Berrios scored from just outside the penalty area 27 seconds into the second half, and Milton Nuñez pounced on a rebound seven minutes later. Rookie Greg Janicki responded for United in the 61st minute, but Marvin Chavez capped a two-on-one with Nuñez by sliding a 15-yard shot under goalkeeper Zach Wells.

"We are very sad right now. It's very disappointing," said United forward Luciano Emilio, who entered at halftime. "We wanted to put on a good performance and finish the season on a good note, but as always, we had a bad result."

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