- The Washington Times - Thursday, June 22, 2000

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. It took D.C. United over half a season, but it finally earned a point against a divisional rival, albeit a tie.

Forward Jaime Moreno scored the equalizing goal in the 86th minute as United tied the New York/ New Jersey MetroStars 2-2 before an announced 10,316 last night at Giants Stadium.

Heading into last night's game, United was 0-5-0 against Major League Soccer's Eastern Division.

United playmaker Marco Etcheverry set up the game-tying goal when he drilled a free kick into the box and reserve A.J. Wood flicked the ball toward Moreno. Moreno outjumped defender Mike Petke for the ball inside the 6-yard box and headed it into the left corner of the goal.

"The position I was in, I had my back to the goal," Wood said. "Carlos Llamosa [United defender] just missed it and the only person I could see was Jaime. I was just trying to flick it to the back post. If it goes in great, at least we had a white shirt there. Jaime did well to win his battle and score."

Moreno, not known for his exploits in the air, said his job is to score goals regardless of how the ball goes in.

"It happens," Moreno said of his header. "Surprise."

United trailed 2-0 at halftime and things looked bleak. However just when it appeared United (3-10-4) was on its way to its second consecutive loss, right-flank midfielder Chris Albright put United on the board in the 51st minute.

Moreno took a left-footed shot from the top of the box, but MetroStars' midfielder Billy Walsh blocked Moreno's strike. Albright slid on to the deflection and the ball trickled over the line past MetroStars goalkeeper Mike Ammann. Suddenly, United was back in the game.

"I don't like the result, we needed three points here," United coach Thomas Rongen said. "I said that prior to the game and I still say it we lost two points here. Just the way we came out is disappointing, not mentally in-tune with what is going on. Again, giving up goals we can prevent."

With 15 games left in the season, time may be running out for United to make a run for a playoff berth.

After lacking rhythm and looking completely out-of-sync in the first half, United narrowly missed winning the game in regulation. Moments after Moreno scored the equalizer, Wood took a cross from Moreno and sent a header off the crossbar in the 87th minute.

"I had to wait to clear the defender in front of me to get on it," Wood said. "I jumped as high as I could and it was unlucky. We needed that goal."

Another set-piece breakdown by United put the defending MLS champions in a 1-0 hole. United's holding midfielder Richie Williams grabbed MetroStars' midfielder Ramiro Corrales from behind in the 18th minute. Williams received a yellow card.

On the restart Tab Ramos, the MetroStars playmaker, served the ball toward the middle of the box. MetroStars forward Clint Mathis, who was left unmarked in front of United's goal, headed Ramos' offering past goalkeeper Mark Simpson.

Mathis' goal, his fourth since joining the MetroStars six games ago, was the 17th set-piece goal allowed by United this season. Mathis came to the MetroStars from the Los Angeles Galaxy on May 17th via a two-player dispersal draft upon the Galaxy's signing of Mexican superstar Luis Hernandez.

Mathis, Ramos and company were not finished as the MetroStars (8-7-1), the former MLS laughingstocks, struck again five minutes later in the 23rd minute.

Mathis fed forward Adolfo Valencia at the top of the 18-yard box. Valencia didn't control his dribble and carried the ball through the penalty area and just outside the box on the left side. Valencia then rolled the ball back out to Ramos who blasted a 25-yard shot that beat Simpson to the right post and gave the MetroStars a 2-0 lead.

The goal was Ramos' first in the last 22 months. Ramos, once a fixture in American soccer before knee injuries stalled his promising career, represented the U.S. in three World Cups (1990, 1994 and 1998) has 78 caps and seven goals for the U.S. He has suffered two ACL tears in his left knee and has never gotten his MetroStars career on track.

Note United's third-round U.S. Open Cup game has been finalized. United will play the A League's Rochester Raging Rhinos at RFK Stadium on July 26 at 7:30 p.m. The Raging Rhinos, the defending U.S. Open Cup champions, wanted to play the game in Buffalo on a baseball field because their stadium is unavailable on the 26th. "The stadium they proposed in Buffalo is the Buffalo Bison's stadium, so I said, 'we're not playing on a baseball field,' " United president Kevin Payne said. United is the top-seed in the U.S. Open Cup's eastern bracket, but cannot pick and choose where it plays the games, because U.S. Soccer has the final say. "I initially thought the seeded team had the choice," Payne said. "The federation said that's not necessarily the case. They try to play it where it makes the most economic sense." The game was originally to be played on July 25, but Payne convinced U.S. Soccer to push it back so as not to conflict with United's players representing their countries in World Cup qualifying.

Note

United's third-round U.S. Open Cup game has been finalized. United will play the A League's Rochester Raging Rhinos at RFK Stadium on July 26 at 7:30 p.m. The Raging Rhinos, the defending U.S. Open Cup champions, wanted to play the game in Buffalo on a baseball field because their stadium is unavailable on the 26th. "The stadium they proposed in Buffalo is the Buffalo Bison's stadium, so I said, "we're not playing on a baseball field." United is the top-seed in the U.S. Open Cup's eastern bracket, but cannot pick and choose where it plays the games, because U.S. Soccer has the final say. "I initially thought the seeded team had the choice," Payne said. "The federation said that's not necessarily the case. They try to play it where it makes the most economic sense." The game was originally to be played on July 25, but Payne convinced U.S. Soccer to it back so as not to conflict with United's players representing the countries in World Cup qualifying.

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