- The Washington Times - Wednesday, October 31, 2007

D.C. United’s goal for tomorrow night’s playoff game against the Chicago Fire is simple: Score one.

United needs that much to tie the Fire in the aggregate goals series in the MLS playoffs. But in six previous playoff games against the Fire, United hasn’t scored.

“We only need one goal and then see what happens in extra time,” United forward Jaime Moreno said.

Ideally, United needs two goals to win the series outright after losing 1-0 in the first game of the series last week. If the series is tied after regulation, there will be a 30-minute overtime. The final tiebreaker is a penalty shootout.

After yesterday’s practice, which was closed to the media for the second straight day, United practiced penalty kicks.

But Moreno warned against panicking.

“It would be nice to score quick, but we must not get desperate and lose our shape,” he said.

United may be done worrying about injuries to its two top forwards. Neither Moreno nor Luciano Emilio started against the Fire last week.

Moreno said his foot was fine and that Emilio, who played only 12 minutes in last week’s game because of an ankle injury, “looked great.”

Emilio, who scored a league-high 20 goals, is likely to start.

“He’s fired up and ready to go,” goalie Troy Perkins said.

He also said having the pair of forwards back will be valuable.

“It helps us out a lot to have those two up there,” Perkins said. “They understand the style we want to play. They are big strong guys who hold the ball up for us well and have done the job all year. It’s nice to have them back.”

Chicago is riding a nine-game unbeaten streak, while United has lost two straight after a 13-game unbeaten run in MLS play. United has never beaten the Fire in the playoffs, which bugs Perkins.

“This is not a jinx, and they are not our nemesis,” Perkins said. “They are just a club we have to go out and take care of. And sometimes we don’t show up against them, and now is our chance to do it.”

Said Moreno: “It’s just another playoff game, and it’s very clear we can’t make mistakes.”

Moreno predicted the Fire will defend with eight players. He also criticized Chicago’s style of play in the first game after it scored the early goal.

“They just dumped the ball. They just dump it and defended with six guys,” Moreno said. “For me, that’s not soccer. If they feel happy about that, they can go ahead and do it.”

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