- The Washington Times - Sunday, July 15, 2007

D.C. United coach Tom Soehn told his team at halftime last night that the first goal of the second half against FC Dallas could secure the victory.

United’s Luciano Emilio followed orders, scoring the first goal of the half and his second of the game in the 47th minute.

But United blew a three-goal lead to FC Dallas and settled for a 3-3 tie before 20,952 at RFK Stadium.

With the tie, United (7-5-3) is tied for third place with the New England Revolution in the Eastern Conference with 24 points. The New York Red Bulls are two points ahead in first place, with the Kansas City Wizards one point ahead in second.

“We played like young kids,” Soehn said. “We put ourselves in too many situations where we’re setting ourselves up to fail instead of being organized and compact. A few guys didn’t have a few good performances.”

United had allowed one goal or less in 10 of its last 12 games before last night. But its recent defensive dominance stopped in the second half.

In the 51st minute, forward Dominic Oduro headed the ball into the right corner for Dallas’ first goal. Juan Toja scored 20 minutes later, then scored again in the 80th minute to tie the game.

“It comes down to mistakes on my end,” United goalie Troy Perkins said. “That’s what happens. I’ll take the blame for this one.”

Defender Greg Vanney played in front of a home crowd for the first time since United acquired him in a trade that sent Facundo Erpen to the Colorado Rapids. Soehn hoped Vanney’s experience a stint in the French Ligue 1 and playing time with four other MLS teams would help complement the backline.

“It seemed like every ball that dropped on the field, they were the first to it,” Vanney said. “They had a little too much time and they were picking up passes. We were scrambling a little in the back. And there were occasions where the communication between Troy coming out for balls and us clearing balls wasn’t good. Somehow they got in between us.”

United took a commanding lead thanks to the returns of Jaime Moreno, Bobby Boswell and Ben Olsen.

After missing five games while playing for the Bolivian national team in Copa America, Moreno had two assists before Guy-Roland Kpene replaced him in the 55th minute because of a hamstring strain.

“The injury is not too bad,” Moreno said. “Hopefully it takes only a week. With these kinds of injuries, you never know.”

United scored in the eighth minute, when forward Fred crossed the ball to Moreno, who marched inside the 18-yard line on the right flank.

To avoid a slide tackle from FC Dallas defender Clarence Goodson, Moreno passed to forward Luciano Emilio inside the box. Emilio tapped the ball in for the 1-0 lead.

Before the end of the first half, Boswell lobbed a well-placed pass to Moreno from midfield. Moreno immediately fed Fred, who headed the ball into the back of the net for a 2-0 lead. It was Fred’s second career MLS goal.

Then came United’s goal in the second half, the one Soehn thought would seal the win.

“We had a false sense of security,” United defender Josh Gros said. “It obviously wasn’t too secure because we gave it right up. We should’ve controlled the ball better. Once we had that 3-0 lead, we should’ve burned the game out.”

Note — A D.C. United spokesman said midfielder Justin Moose will travel to Germany next week for treatment of a sports hernia — a tear in the muscles of the lower abdomen. He has played a limited role in seven games.

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