D.C. United looks to continue positive play against Colorado Rapids

United goalkeeper Bill Hamid, left, has surrendered one goal in each of his first two MLS games.
United goalkeeper Bill Hamid, left, has surrendered one goal in each of his first two MLS games. (Mark M. Hancock/associated Press)
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By Steven Goff
Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, May 15, 2010

D.C. United's situation is far from perfect, but after two encouraging performances, it's not too bad either. So when United faces the Colorado Rapids on Saturday night at RFK Stadium, the starting lineup will look much like it did for the season's maiden victory 11 days ago and the narrow defeat last weekend at Dallas.

"When you are performing well, you don't want to tinker with too many things," Coach Curt Onalfo said. "So don't expect us to tinker a lot. If we have a change, it is just one or two based on what we think is going to be successful in this game."

Although United remains at the bottom of MLS's Eastern Conference standings and, at 1-6, has equaled the poorest seven-game start in club history, Onalfo has begun to see positive signs: goalkeeper Bill Hamid, 19, has made good decisions and better saves in his first two career starts; the front-line partnership of Adam Cristman and Danny Allsopp has pressured defenses and created scoring chances; and Clyde Simms's return from a hamstring injury has bolstered the central midfield.

Meantime, veterans Troy Perkins, Jaime Moreno and Luciano Emilio have served in reserve roles.

If lineup changes are made, they will probably come on the back line. Center back Juan Manuel Peña is set to return after being rested for the 1-0 loss at FC Dallas last Saturday and first-year right back Jordan Graye will be evaluated before game time after recovering from a strained hamstring.

Hamid's performance, the back line's improved work and Simms's leadership have limited the past two opponents to two goals total after United conceded 13 in the first five outings. United's persistent issue, though, has been scoring: two goals against the Philadelphia Union, two against the Kansas City Wizards and five shutouts.

Philadelphia and Kansas City have scored six apiece but played one fewer game than United.

At Dallas, United hit the left post and crossbar, and was foiled by goalkeeper Kevin Hartman several times.

"I thought we were pretty tough to play against and a little unfortunate not to score," defender Devon McTavish said. "Curt is the most positive person I know, so he keeps reemphasizing that we showed some pretty good stuff last week and just need to have a complete game.

"It's not that we've always played poorly over 90 minutes; it's just been a lapse here and there, and it's cost us games. It's certainly fixable."

The Rapids (3-3-1) have dropped two straight, both by shutout, and are seeking to end an 11-game winless streak in Washington.

United notes: Rookie midfielder Andy Najar, a three-time starter who has been slowed by an ankle injury, might make the game-day roster. . . .

Midfielder Santino Quaranta was released from Virginia Hospital Center after a week of treatment and surgery for a staph infection on his leg. . . .

Forward-midfielder Chris Pontius, who will miss his fourth consecutive league game Saturday, said he is scheduled to resume regular training next week and hopes to play next weekend at Houston. . . .

An additional 500 parking spaces will be available in Lot 8 at RFK Stadium for Saturday's match and the entire area might be ready for the AC Milan friendly May 26, stadium officials said. The lot has undergone extensive work and resurfacing to repair damage suffered during the winter storms.

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