United posts first win of season

By Paul Tenorio
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, April 29, 2010

In most cases, the U.S. Open Cup provides D.C. United a venue in which to give its younger, less experienced players an opportunity to prove themselves in game situations.

Early in a season in which the club has struggled, however, losing its first four games in MLS play, Wednesday night's U.S. Open Cup preliminary game against FC Dallas was also a chance for D.C. to build confidence.

Paced by its brightest young star, 17-year-old Andy Najar, who registered the first assist and first goal of his professional career, and forward Adam Cristman, who scored twice, United accomplished both in a 4-2 win over FC Dallas in front of 2,804 at RFK Stadium.

"Every game you play you want to play to win and it makes it even more important when we've started the way we've started," United Coach Curt Onalfo said. "So for us getting points and a victory is important for self-confidence. They come hand in hand. When you're breeding that confidence it usually comes from winning games and it's just something you have to build on."

If there were any doubts about how much the game mattered to United, they were answered before the halftime whistle.

Starting goalkeeper Troy Perkins got the nod over 19-year-old Bill Hamid, who was seeking his first professional appearance. Onalfo was ejected for arguing a call in the 32nd minute, and D.C.'s previously listless offense scored twice before the break.

Onalfo talked his way to an early exit after arguing a foul call against defender Carey Talley in front of the United bench near the sideline nearly 50 yards from D.C.'s goal.

"It's not like it was drawn up," Onalfo said. "I've never been ejected before, I feel like I'm very fair and I just objected to the call and I feel like that's something I should be able to do in my home stadium. The referees thought otherwise and it is what it is."

Najar, signed this year from D.C.'s youth academy, paced United for much of the game and tallied the first assist of his professional career in the fourth minute with a clever outside-of-the-foot lifted chip over a defender that sprung , who chipped a shot over FC Dallas goalkeeper Kevin Hartman.

Najar then scored his first professional goal in the 51st minute, finishing a Cristman cross at the far post with a left-footed shot to give United a 3-0 lead.

For a six-minute period after that goal, however, it appeared as though D.C. was trying to waste its most productive performance of the season, letting the three-goal lead melt into a 3-2 advantage.

But Cristman's second goal, a header over Hartman on a ball from Clyde Simms in the 59th minute, opened the lead back to two and United held on for its first win this season in any competition.

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