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D.C. United defeats Philadelphia Union, 2-0

By Steven Goff
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, August 23, 2010; 12:32 AM

It was a remarkable afternoon at RFK Stadium, and not just because D.C. United won its first MLS match since early June.

Along the way to a 2-0 victory over the expansion Philadelphia Union on Sunday, United actually went ahead in a league game for the first time in more than 2½ months. With two goals, Australian striker Danny Allsopp ended more than three months of personal failure against MLS adversaries and became the first D.C. player other than teenager Andy Najar to convert in league competition since before the World Cup break.

United's first shutout victory also ended a five-game losing streak, stopped an overall league skid of eight matches, furnished the team's first home win in MLS since May 29, and provided interim coach Ben Olsen with his opening triumph after two defeats.

"It's a bit of a relief for everyone," said Allsopp, who overcame a virus this past week and became the club's leading scorer with four goals.

Allsopp's first-half strike, a one-timer from 12 yards after a dreadful touch by Union defender Danny Califf, put United (4-14-3) ahead for the first time since Chris Pontius's goal just before halftime at Seattle on June 10.

"It had been so long," Olsen said, "I didn't know if we knew how to play with a lead."

But with United composed in possession and pressuring Philadelphia's defenders into giveaways, D.C. was rarely threatened by the Union (4-11-5), which is winless in six straight and fell to 1-9-1 on the road.

Aside from Allsopp's goals, Najar, 17, was clever and unpredictable on the flank and helped set up both goals with low crosses.

"I love the kid. He is a joy to watch," Olsen said. "He plays every game like there is not going to be one next week for him, like someone is going to take it away from him."

Jed Zayner, acquired from the Columbus Crew early this month, made his debut with 90 quality minutes at right back. Santino Quaranta, serving as captain, was spirited, assertive and adaptable in switching sides with Najar several times.

Playing on the right, Najar contributed to the first goal by crossing crisply to the edge of the six-yard box in the 22nd minute. Califf made a clumsy, off-balance effort to clear and inadvertently pushed the ball to Allsopp.

All too often this year, United has failed to capitalize on such teasing opportunities and, subsequently, allowed opponents to take charge. This time, however, Allsopp confidently placed the ball into the lower left corner for his first goal in a league match since scoring a pair May 5 against the Kansas City Wizards.

A lead was "something new for us," United midfielder Clyde Simms said. "It felt great."

Allsopp doubled the lead in the 63rd minute. Najar rushed the right side and crossed into the penalty area. Pablo Hernandez made a near-post run and could've taken a stab, but aware of Allsopp charging on the back side, he let the ball pass. The unmarked Allsopp took two touches before beating goalkeeper Chris Seitz from 12 yards - a goal that, given United's tendency to crumble under pressure, "made the rest of the afternoon a lot easier," Allsopp said.

Olsen fortified the midfield with two moves before taking off Allsopp, who received a warm ovation from the audience of 12,165.

"Now we can breathe for a day," Olsen said. "These guys hopefully want some more of it."

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