United Blanked by Rapids to Remain Winless in Colorado Since 2000

By Steven Goff
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, June 21, 2009

COMMERCE CITY, Colo., June 20 -- The MLS venues in Denver have changed over the years, but D.C. United's results have not. Mile High Stadium, Invesco Field and now two-year-old Dick's Sporting Goods Park, it hasn't mattered for United, which on Saturday night gave a disgraceful performance from start to finish and was routed by the Colorado Rapids, 3-0.

Omar Cummings took advantage of deplorable defending with two goals and an assist as Colorado extended its home unbeaten streak against United to 10 (8-0-2) before an announced crowd of 11,416. D.C.'s last win here was in May 2000.

Greg Janicki's sloppy work led to Cummings's goal in the 11th minute, Avery John's aimless pass just before halftime brought about the second goal and Dejan Jakovic's misplay allowed Cummings to set up Colin Clark four minutes into the second half.

"It was just straight giveaways," Coach Tom Soehn said. "It was our own doing. We didn't have it tonight."

United (5-3-8) was coming off a stirring comeback Wednesday in Seattle to earn a 3-3 tie, but playing its third game in eight days against a Colorado team on two weeks' rest, D.C. hardly looked like MLS's Eastern Conference leader with only one loss in its previous 11 league matches.

"You go through a season and you have games like this," said midfielder Ben Olsen, who returned from a five-week injury layoff. "We knew it was going to be a big test from the start, coming off a real emotional game and the travel. You don't want to make excuses, and hopefully those were the causes and this isn't going to be a trend."

With injuries to forwards Jaime Moreno and Luciano Emilio and midfielder Fred, this match also tested United's attacking depth. The absences of Moreno and Fred were expected, but Emilio was scratched because of a knee contusion suffered in Seattle.

Olsen's return had been in the works for the past week; the surprise was his position. Throughout much of his long MLS career, Olsen was a right wing, but his well-documented ankle injuries forced a move to defensive midfield this year. He was back on the right side against the Rapids.

The backline had a new look, as well. For the first time, Soehn opted for a four-man alignment with Bryan Namoff on the right, John replacing Marc Burch on the left and Janicki joining Jakovic in the middle. The switch was prompted in part by Jakovic's imminent departure to the Canadian national team for the Gold Cup and Soehn's need to re-integrate Janicki, who hasn't appeared in a league match since early May.

For United playmaker Christian Gómez, there might have been extra motivation playing here, although he wouldn't acknowledge it beforehand. In one season with the Rapids before being reacquired by United this past winter, the 2006 league MVP was benched late in the year by Colorado Coach Gary Smith because of fitness issues and contrasting styles.

The Rapids (5-2-5) also had to adjust their lineup. Without striker Conor Casey, MLS's second-leading scorer with eight goals who is on U.S. national team duty, Smith turned to veteran forward Pat Noonan, acquired in a trade with Columbus this week.

But it was Noonan's partner, Cummings, who did the early damage. The Jamaican forward beat Janicki to Pablo Mastroeni's pass near midfield and embarked on his run. The defender recovered to keep pace, but his slide tackle was hardly a hindrance to Cummings, who skipped over the challenge without losing stride and angled an eight-yard shot into the far side-netting.

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