- The Washington Times - Saturday, June 21, 2008

Clyde Simms rarely scores goals - probably one a year - but when he does, they are spectacular.

The fourth-year midfielder bagged the game-winner in D.C. United’s 4-1 win over the Red Bulls last week with a blistering shot from long range.

“He plays a position that a lot of time gets overlooked … so it’s only when he scores that you start recognizing him,” United coach Tom Soehn said.

Luciano Emilio’s hat trick overshadowed Simms’ goal, which was voted as the MLS goal of the week.

“He doesn’t get too many opportunities, but when he does it’s probably going to be up there for goal of the week,” defender Bryan Namoff said.

In all competitions for United, Simms has notched four goals - all dramatic low long-distance shots.

“I don’t practice shooting as much as I should, but I do like to strike balls,” Simms said. “I try and keep it low and on goal.”

The East Carolina product scored his first goal for United in a 1-0 win over the Chicago Fire in 2006 with a low 25-yard blast that earned a goal-of-the-week nomination.

“I feel like I didn’t get justice with that goal because it wasn’t on TV,” Simms said.

Last year he got one past the Fire again, this time in the playoffs, not surprisingly with another long-range blast. He also notched a goal in the 2-1 win over Mexican club Guadalajara Chivas at RFK, when he pounded home the rebound from Christian Gomez’s free kick.

All but one of his four United goals have been game-winners.

“That’s not really his role, but if he gets a good look from 25 yards he will have a go at it,” United defender Devon McTavish said.

Simms rarely steals the headlines. His job is to man the defensive midfield role and get the ball to the team’s flashier players. But this season, the 25-year-old has taken on a higher profile for United. He is a key part of the club’s advertising campaign.

He is among the players emblazoned on a giant banner hanging from RFK Stadium. When driving over the Whitney Young Memorial Bridge toward RFK, Simms is in plain view.

“It’s nice to get the recognition,” Simms said. “I don’t like it too much though because I am a team player.”

Since Brian Carroll left the club in the expansion draft, Simms has claimed the defensive midfield role. He is the only United player to have played in every minute in all 13 games this year.

“The coaches are now asking me to pick up on the vocal aspects of my game,” said the soft-spoken Simms, who will be looking for more goals against the San Jose Earthquakes on Sunday.

It’s the first meeting for United (5-7-1, 16 points) against San Jose (3-7-2, 11 points) since the city’s original club relocated to Houston after the 2005 season.

The Earthquakes are coming off a scoreless tie at Real Salt Lake on Wednesday and have now been shut out in eight games. The team has the worst offense in the league with just nine goals and will be without key defender Jason Hernandez, who was red-carded against Salt Lake. United will be without the suspended Santino Quaranta.

- United has been drawn in Group A with Deportivo Saprissa of Costa Rica in the 2008-09 CONCACAF Champions League Sept. 16 to Oct. 29. The other two slots will be determined by the results of Cruz Azul (Mexico) vs. Hankook Verdes (Belize) and Isidro Metapan (El Salvador) vs. Club Olimpia or CD Marathon of Honduras. …

Abby Wambach is just two goals shy of 100 as the U.S. team faces Canada in the Peace Queen Cup final Saturday in Suwon, South Korea. The Americans beat Canada 1-0 on Kristine Lilly’s goal at the 2006 final in Seoul.

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