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Houston Dynamo capitalizes on D.C. United's mistakes, 3-1

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Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, September 26, 2010; 12:35 PM

D.C. United crashed to another gutting defeat Saturday night, spoiling a brilliant goal by 17-year-old midfielder Andy Najar and equaling the club record for losses in a season.

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United was cruising along nicely until the middle of the second half, when the Houston Dynamo scored twice in four minutes en route to a 3-1 victory in front of 13,828 at RFK Stadium.

"With the season we have had, I don't think I am feeling pretty comfortable at any moment in a game, especially with the lack of concentration we have had over a 90-minute span," D.C. interim coach Ben Olsen said. "It's getting old, it's getting really old. We let each other down again."

Devon McTavish had an own goal after goalkeeper Troy Perkins's blunder and Geoff Cameron scored on a header to overturn the Dynamo's deficit and help drop D.C.'s record to 5-18-3, its highest loss total since 2000.

The match ended in turbulent fashion: Olsen and Houston Coach Dominic Kinnear were ejected after a sideline commotion; Dynamo goalkeeper Pat Onstad was bloodied in a collision with a teammate; and Dominic Oduro scored on a breakaway in the 10th of an astounding 11 added minutes.

In the 89th, with a Houston player being treated on the field, Olsen approached Kinnear on the sideline to apologize for Julius James's hard tackle. As they shook hands, the fourth official, Landis Wiley, apparently sensed the situation escalating. He conferred with referee Alex Prus, who sent off both coaches. Olsen and Kinnear walked off together, shaking hands again.

In a written statement, Prus said they were ejected for "irresponsible behavior for leaving the technical area."

Said Olsen: "That's what happens when you shake hands. . . . We should institute referees having press conferences" to explain their decisions.

Before his exit, Olsen watched his team go ahead on Najar's goal, squander opportunities to stretch the lead, and then crumble defensively.

In the 29th minute, Santino Quaranta served a long, high ball from the midfield line to Najar in stride just beyond the penalty area. His first touch was heavy, drawing defender Andrew Hainault toward the ball. But Najar was too quick for the Houston player, pulling the ball back and accelerating to his left with Hainault in pursuit.

Here is where Najar distinguished himself from most MLS players. Instead of a hasty bid that Onstad surely anticipated, Najar turned his shoulders and hips ever so slightly to give the appearance of a cutback or shot.

Hainault bought it, sliding into what he thought would be the ball's path. Retreating defender Adrian Serioux overcommitted, allowing Najar to retain control, take two touches and sting an 11-yard shot into the right side of the net. It was his fifth league goal, tying the club's rookie record shared by Quaranta (2001) and Freddy Adu (2004).

United seized the initiative after the break against the tiring Dynamo (7-14-5) but couldn't add to the lead.

Typical of the season, United's faulty finishing was costly. Perkins flailed at a high cross. Alone on the back side, Brad Davis's volley was well off target but struck McTavish and skipped into the empty net.

"That's when the game changed, the here-we-go-again thing, the guys putting their heads down," Quaranta said. "It's the same story all year."

United's collapse continued when Cameron's 12-yard header off Davis's free kick beat Perkins to the near corner. Onstad's foot save denied Najar's potential equalizer in the 87th minute, and after the sideline fuss and United's pressure, Oduro ran free for the finishing touch on D.C.'s fourth loss in five matches.

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