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United playing spoiler
Already eliminated from the CONCACAF Champions League and on the heels of a disappointing end to its MLS season, D.C. United has one match left on its schedule. Though there will be little to play for Wednesday night at RFK Stadium against Marathon of Honduras, United doesn’t plan on going out quietly.
”We’re going to go in with the intention to win,” coach Tom Soehn said. “Unfortunately, it is only a spoiler role, but it is still important to finish off the season strong.”
Although United (0-4-1, one point) is already eliminated from the Champions League, Marathon (2-1-1, seven points) is still fighting to advance to the knockout stage in the spring.
The game ends a turbulent season for United, which failed to make the MLS playoffs for the first time since 2002 after falling 1-0 at Columbus on Sunday. The club finished 11-15-4, above only Toronto FC in the Eastern Conference a year after winning the Supporters’ Shield.
Asked whether his job was safe going into the offseason, Soehn said, “Nobody’s safe.”
“It was a bad year for the team,” captain Jaime Moreno said. “All you can say is we gave everything. Unfortunately, we had so many injuries. It’s not an excuse. We had many games, too, and it didn’t help with recovering people. But at the end of the day, it’s our fault.”
Moreno, one of several players to deal with injuries this season, said he is unlikely to play Wednesday. He will have surgery on his left knee in the offseason and also will travel to Germany for surgery to repair an abdominal problem.
Last week in Champions League play, United lost 2-0 at Mexico’s Cruz Azul in a game marred by red cards. The club was left with only eight men after goalies James Thorpe (making his debut) and Louis Crayton were ejected and defender Gonzalo Martinez hobbled off injured with no substitutes remaining. Zach Wells will be in goal against Marathon. With Thorpe and Crayton suspended, Soehn said his club will bring in a “league keeper” from the MLS player pool as a backup.
”I think we actually have a lot to play for,” defender Devon McTavish said. “Obviously it was a disappointing season without even making the playoffs, failing in SuperLiga and CONCACAF is done, too. It’s a good opportunity to come out in the final home game and try to put on a show for the fans, try to come out and get a result and spoil Marathon’s CONCACAF dreams. The season is done, but we need to prove to our fans that we can still play.”
The Champions League involves the top clubs from North and Central American and the Caribbean. United will get another shot in the event next year after earning a berth for winning the U.S. Open Cup in September.
One notable feature of Wednesday’s game is the return to RFK for Milton “Tyson” Nunez. The 35-year-old veteran of the Honduran national team is known for the two goals he scored in the District when Honduras beat the U.S. men’s national team 3-2 in a 2001 World Cup qualifier. In the teams’ first meeting Sept. 24, Nunez scored a stunning goal in United’s 2-0 loss.
Marathon still has to play host to Saprissa of Costa Rica on Nov. 5 in a game rescheduled after flooding in Honduras.
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