- The Washington Times - Saturday, May 23, 2009

An old mantra in soccer is “win at home and tie on the road.” Ties on the road are fine, but ties at home, when vital points are lost, often feel like defeats.

Thanks to three ties, D.C. United already has dropped six points at home this season. The club earned only four ties all of last season but has posted six in 10 games this year.

With that in mind, United (3-1-6, 15 points) will try to avoid yet another draw when it faces Real Salt Lake (3-5-1, 10 points) on Saturday at RFK Stadium.

“There are two sides to this story,” striker Santino Quaranta said. “We are not scoring early, and then we are letting teams stay in the game. In the long haul, that hurts you. This is a statement game for us.”

The odds favor United: Real Salt Lake is 0-4 on the road this season and winless in four attempts all-time at RFK. That said, United’s only loss this year was a 2-1 defeat at Real Salt Lake on April 11.

“We expect to win at home,” Quaranta said. “Salt Lake is struggling a little bit, and many of our guys got a good rest this week.”

Real Salt Lake arrives at RFK with its No. 1 goalie questionable and his backup sidelined. Starter Nick Rimando missed the past three games with a deep cut to a finger; backup Chris Seitz sprained his right shoulder in a 2-0 loss to Kansas City last weekend and is expected to be out a month. If Rimando can’t play, third-stringer Kyle Reynish will be make his first MLS start.

A win would put United alone atop the Eastern Conference standings. Chicago, which also has 15 points, visits the New York Red Bulls on Sunday.

“We need to finish teams off early and not allow them to get breaks and get late goals,” defender Dejan Jakovic said. “Teams are pretty equal in this league right now.”

United is getting plenty out of Quaranta, who has a goal and five assists in only four starts (and seven games overall). In his comeback year last season, the Baltimore native notched five goals and four assists in 27 games.

Game notes - Coach Tom Soehn often says that when Luciano Emilio scores, he scores in bunches. Expect the Brazilian to be on-target Saturday. Emilio, who has five goals and is tied for second in the league, broke his three-game goal drought to help United earn a 2-2 tie at Chivas USA last week.

United will be missing midfielder Ben Olsen, who is out three to four weeks because of a hamstring injury.

Freedom at RFK - In the first of three doubleheaders with United at RFK, the Washington Freedom take on Sky Blue FC of New Jersey at 4:30 p.m. Saturday. The Freedom (1-2-3, six points) are still looking for their first home win. The visitors are led by several stars from the gold medal-winning U.S. Olympic team: Natasha Kai, Christie Rampone and Heather O’Reilly.

Overseas Americans - Sunday is a big day for midfielder Maurice Edu and his club, the Glasgow Rangers. The former Maryland star can help the club win the Scottish title with a victory at Dundee United.

In the English Premier League, Clint Dempsey can help Fulham get into the Europa League next season with a win against visiting Everton in Saturday’s season finale.

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