- The Washington Times - Saturday, May 24, 2008

As they prepare for tonight’s game against Toronto FC, D.C. United’s players are rallying around embattled coach Tom Soehn.

“It’s not just Tommy’s fault,” said captain Jaime Moreno, who has played under all five of United’s coaches. “It’s everyone’s fault. He makes the decisions, but at the end of the day the players are the ones who step on the field. … We told him we support him, and we believe in him.”

Tonight’s game at RFK Stadium is an important one for the team and for Soehn, who is at a challenging point in his coaching career.

United (2-7, six points) is off to the worst start in team history and in danger of missing the playoffs, which is made even more difficult because the Eastern Conference is so strong this season. It is 13 points behind Columbus and 10 behind Chicago and New England.

“I think he [Soehn] is doing a good job,” midfielder Marcelo Gallardo said. “I think we are all doing a good job as a team. It’s just when you start losing and go through a rough patch, people try and find someone to blame.”

Soehn won the Supporters Shield for the best regular-season record in his first season as coach. Nine games into this season, United has the worst record in the league and a four-game losing streak.

“We are a close group, even though we’ve been through some turbulent times,” Soehn said. “As far as results, we’ve stuck together and that’s the only way we can do it. Two things can happen: a team can self-destruct or pull together.”

United has never fired a coach in midseason, but the team is now under owners who are involved in the day-to-day operations of the team and have spent big money on players.

FC Dallas fired its coach, Steve Morrow, on Tuesday after its started the season 2-3-3 (nine points).

United has struggled early in previous seasons, but this year has been particularly difficult.

“It’s different because I don’t think we were this bad,” Moreno added.

But the players say they did some positive things in Wednesday’s 1-0 loss at Toronto FC.

“We’re coming off a loss, but we are also coming off a good performance,” defender Bryan Namoff said.

Meanwhile, Soehn is handling the pressure.

“I’m blessed to have so much to come home to and that keeps me going,” he added.

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