- The Washington Times - Monday, May 7, 2007

D.C. United coach Tom Soehn has not been afraid to make bold moves and bench big-name players in his first year. Whether his decisions pay off in the long run remains to be seen.

For one day, at least, Soehn looked like a genius as United got goals from Christian Gomez and Jaime Moreno in a 2-1 victory over Chivas USA yesterday in front of 14,267 at RFK Stadium. The win was the team’s first this season.

“The coach decides the lineup,” Gomez said. “If he’s shuffling the lineup now, that tells us that we as a group are not doing the job, so we have to adapt to the changes and get the result.”

On Thursday, Soehn benched Moreno, an 11-year veteran striker, in a 1-1 tie with the New England Revolution. Against Chivas, Brazilian striker Luciano Emilio — United’s highest-paid player — was benched.

Rookie forward Guy-Roland Kpene was given his first start, and midfielder Justin Moose made his second start this season in place of injured Brazilian midfielder Fred. Kpene, who later was substituted by Emilio, rewarded Soehn by earning an assist on United’s first goal.

“I haven’t been afraid to use [young players], Soehn said. “You gauge a lot in training. The guys that step up will play. … It doesn’t matter how much you make, you come out and do the best, and you will see time on the field.”

A goal by Gomez gave United the lead in the 48th minute. Kpene flicked Ben Olsen’s cross behind him to Gomez, who sent the ball past Chivas goalie Brad Guzan for his second goal of the year. It was the first time this season United has held a lead.

United’s second goal came after Kasali Casal won a penalty kick in the 64th minute after being fouled by Vaughn. Moreno took the spot-kick, casually chipping the ball into the center of the net as Guzan dove to his left to make the score 2-0. It was the 31st penalty kick Moreno has converted. With 107 career goals, he is just one goal shy of equaling Jason Kreis for the Major League Soccer record.

“People out there must be tired of me scoring penalties, but I’m not,” Moreno said.

Despite the win, United had its shaky moments. Chivas’ Ante Rasov narrowly missed a goal in the 70th minute when his shot hit the crossbar after being deflected by United goalie Troy Perkins. Three minutes later, Chivas’ Maykel Galindo tore through the United defense, rounding the tired Josh Gros and firing a shot past Perkins to cut the deficit to 2-1.

“When they got that goal, I’m sure a lot of people thought, ‘Here they go,’ ” defender Bobby Boswell said. “But we showed we could get the win and finish the game off.”

Perkins preserved United’s win with a fine save in the dying minutes on a header by Francisco Mendoza.

“I don’t think it was a great game by the historical standard here at D.C. United,” Olsen said. “But it’s a win, and we are in no spot right now to get upset about ugly games.”

United now gets a two-week break before going to Canada to play expansion Toronto FC on May 19.

“We are taking baby steps,” Soehn said. “Was it perfect? No. But we are going to build on it.”

Revolution 3, Fire 1

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — Steve Ralston and Wells Thompson scored goals 13 minutes apart in the second half to lead New England past previously undefeated Chicago.

The Revolution (3-1-2) extended their unbeaten streak to five matches. Their only loss of the season was a 1-0 decision in Chicago in the season-opener.

The Fire (3-1-1) had allowed just two goals through their first four matches.

Ralston netted his first of the season in the 68th minute when he burst down the right wing, collected a cross from the left wing by Khano Smith and delivered a short ball past goalkeeper Matt Pickens to break a 1-1 tie.

In the 81st minute, Thompson, a rookie out of Wake Forest who came on as a reserve in the 66th minute, beat Chicago midfielder Ivan Guerrero to a ball on the right wing and lofted a right-footed shot to the far left corner of the net.

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