United 1, Wizards 1

In a matter of seconds, D.C. United's prospects of winning here for the first time in four years took a dramatic turn Wednesday night. An apparent two-goal lead evaporated at the sight of a linesman's flag and, before United could regroup, the Kansas City Wizards had scored the equalizer on an eerily similar sequence. So instead of heading to Los Angeles with a valuable road victory, United settled for a 1-1 tie before only 7,560 spectators on a brutally hot evening at Arrowhead Stadium.

Josh Gros provided the lead just before halftime and Jaime Moreno appeared to make it 2-0 with a 58th-minute header off a rebound. But Moreno was ruled offside -- a correct call, replays seemed to indicate -- and the Wizards took advantage of United's letdown by striking back quickly. Unlike Moreno, rookie Scott Sealy appeared onside when he tucked away the rebound of Chris Klein's shot in the 59th minute.

"We were stuck in the moment of Jaime's goal getting taken back and, all of a sudden, they're coming down our throats as we're yelling at the refs and not getting back," goalkeeper Nick Rimando said. "You're excited and then, just like that, we're tied."

United was also lamenting late opportunities to go back ahead as reserve Jamil Walker shot meekly at Wizards goalie Bo Oshoniyi, spoiling Moreno's superb buildup, and Bobby Boswell was badly off target inside the penalty area.

"We should've won this game -- everyone in the locker room feels the same way," Coach Peter Nowak said. "We have to finish these chances."

Added Rimando, "We ended up making Bo look like an all-star."

Considering United's futility in Kansas City -- a 3-8-2 all-time record -- the club did take consolation from earning a tie here for the second time this season. It moved United (7-6-5, 26 points) into fourth place in MLS's tightly packed Eastern Conference standings, one point ahead of the New York/New Jersey MetroStars (6-5-7), who lost at last-place Columbus on Wednesday.

A far worse scenario would have been losing here and then having to play Saturday at Los Angeles, which is unbeaten in 10 home matches.

"At the end of the day, we had so many chances, we've got to put them away," Moreno said. "We're disappointed we only took a point, but now we've got to rest and go to L.A. and try to get three points."

United was coming off one of its smoothest efforts of the summer, a 3-0 home victory over San Jose on Friday, but Wednesday's first half bore little resemblance. For 25 minutes, United stumbled on attack and gave too much possession to the opportunistic Wizards.

Fortunate not to be trailing, United finally settled down and presented a more threatening attack.

With intermission approaching, Moreno gathered the ball at midfield after Wizards defender Nick Garcia's misadventure. Moreno launched Gros for a clear run on the left. Garcia recovered and cut down Gros's angle, but when Gros stung a shot from beyond the penalty area, the ball took a deflection off the defender's foot and skipped past Oshoniyi to reach the far corner. It was Gros's first goal in 21/2 months and third of the season.

The pace intensified in the second half and D.C. thought it had stretched its advantage, but Moreno was caught offside after nodding in the rebound of Christian Gomez's shot that a diving Oshoniyi had thwarted.

The Wizards (7-4-8, 29 points) responded immediately. Klein made a strong run through the heart of United's midfield, ending with a low shot from the top of the box. Rimando made a diving save, but the rebound fell to Sealy for an easy finish and his fifth goal of the year.

"It's not the worst thing to come away with a tie," Gros said, "but we definitely had our chances for the win and that's an extra two points we really needed."

United Notes: With Richmond's 8-4 victory over an amateur team from New Jersey on Tuesday, United is set to face the minor league Kickers on Aug. 3 at University of Richmond Stadium in the U.S. Open Cup's round of 16. . . . If the U.S. national team is eliminated in the Gold Cup semifinals Thursday, United plans to summon Santino Quaranta and Ben Olsen to Los Angeles for Saturday's match.

Sutton Lifts Crew

Jamal Sutton scored in second-half stoppage time and the Columbus Crew broke a six-game winless streak with a 1-0 home win over the New York/New Jersey MetroStars.

Sutton ran onto a back-heel pass from substitute Marcus Storey and put the ball past goalkeeper Tony Meola in the game's dying moments.

* EARTHQUAKES 2, RAPIDS 1: In Denver, Brian Mullan and Mark Chung scored to lead San Jose.

Wolde Harris got his first goal of the year on a penalty kick late in the game for Colorado.

United's Dema Kovalenko, left, tries to control the ball against the Wizards' Jack Jewsbury.