- The Washington Times - Thursday, September 13, 2007

Luciano Emilio continues to close in on Raul Diaz Arce’s single-season franchise record of 23 goals set in 1996.

The Brazilian forward notched his 19th goal of the season last night in United’s 2-1 win over Real Salt Lake before 14,655 at RFK Stadium. Christian Gomez earned the game-winner and the assist on Emilio’s goal. United (15-6-4, 49 points) increased its unbeaten streak to nine games and clinched an MLS playoff berth.

It was a topsy-turvy game in which both goalies saved penalty kick and United struggled to out-shoot the visitors 13-11.

But the victory came at a price. United’s three key midfielders — Gomez, Ben Olsen and Fred — all earned yellow cards and will miss the next game, a tough road game at the Chicago Fire.

“It was bad all the way around,” United coach Tom Soehn said. “Having said that, there are a lot of situations when you don’t play well but you get the result, so I still give my guys credit that they did what it takes to win and get three points and keep our streak alive, whether it’s Troy [Perkins] making a big save, or Christian coming up after missing a penalty, or Fred injecting some life, we found a way to win.”

United opened up the scoring in the 16th minute. Olsen’s shot was deflected to Gomez on the right flank. The Argentine midfielder, hugging the touchline, played a high cross to Emilio at the far post. The striker headed from close-range past former United goalie Nick Rimando. Emilio has now scored five goals in his last three games. It was also Gomez’s eighth assist on the season.

Real Salt Lake got back in the game in 33rd minute when United goalie Troy Perkins was caught off guard by a stunning 26-yard shot from Crofton, Md., native Kyle Beckerman, who managed to find plenty of room in the United third.

Four minutes after the restart, Josh Gros won a penalty kick, but Gomez failed to convert it as Rimando dived in the right direction to make the save.

Gomez made amends for the miss in the 73rd minute when he headed home the game-winner from Fred’s cross.

“Luckily Fred made an accurate pass and all I had to do was head it into the goal,” Gomez said.

Perkins then pulled off a brilliant save with his fist to stop a penalty kick from former United striker Alecko Eskandarian.

“[Eskandarian] used to give me a bunch of stick about not saving PK’s so I came back and got him in the butt,” Perkins said.

In its last nine games — dating to Aug. 5 — United has gone 8-0-1, earning an impressive 25 points.

With the victory, United is in a good position to retain the Supporters’ Shield, awarded to the team with the most points in league play. That guarantees a spot in the prestigious CONCACAF Champions Cup next year. United now has a seven-point lead over all teams in the race for the shield.

After four league games in just 12 days, United’s players will not play again until a visit to Chicago on Sept. 23.

“We didn’t play the best soccer but we got the win so it makes going a on the break a little sweeter,” Brian Carroll said.

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