- The Washington Times - Friday, June 13, 2003

D.C. United is turning to its oldest player to solve its goal-scoring woes. Hristo Stoitchkov, 37, will make his first start of the season tonight against the Columbus Crew (4-3-3) at RFK Stadium.

United (1-3-5) has scored just eight goals in nine games this season, been shut out four times and played three scoreless ties, including one at last-place Colorado on Wednesday. Stoitchkov is expected to partner with Ali Curtis on United’s forward line.

“We’ve lived with it, but we’re working around the clock to bring another [forward] up there,” United coach Ray Hudson said. “There are opportunities there to be scored on, and we haven’t produced the goods. That’s the downfall. The ties, that’s what a good forward will do for you — they’ll turn that tie game into a win.”

United’s goal-scoring problems have spanned two seasons. Last season United scored the fewest goals (31), had the fewest assists (40), and took the fewest shots (334) in Major League Soccer. United’s 1.11 goals a game was fourth lowest in league history. United also endured a team-record 536-minute scoreless streak, third longest in MLS history.

One year later, the same problem is evident. Tomorrow forward Jamie Cureton, who played this past season for Reading in the English First Division, will begin a tryout. Other international forwards are expected to rotate through in the upcoming weeks.

According to Hudson, the team is serious about signing a forward. Last season a large number of internationals worked out with the club, but United signed none. Instead, United signed Roy Lassiter off waivers from Kansas City in June and traded for Henry Zambrano in mid-August. Combined, Lassiter and Zambrano accounted for one goal in 17 appearances. Neither is currently in MLS.

“We were serious, but we didn’t find the right people,” Hudson said. “We’re not going to sign anybody for the sake of it; we want the right guy.”

Midfielders Marco Etcheverry and Bobby Convey have scored five of United’s eight goals, while Santino Quaranta has the lone goal among United’s strikers. Quaranta, who has missed United’s past four matches because of a groin strain, is listed as probable tonight and may play as much as 15 minutes in a reserve role.

“I don’t know why we are not scoring goals. I can’t really answer that question,” Quaranta said. “If a couple things changed, we’d be among the top in our [conference]. If we’d scored goals, we wouldn’t even be talking about this right now. It has been two years of this. Maybe it will turn around, but something is going to have to change.”

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