- The Washington Times - Saturday, May 9, 2009

Bryan Namoff isn’t just a stalwart of the D.C. United defense this season - he also has helped create key goals.

The veteran defender failed to earn any assists the past two seasons, but in this campaign he shares the club lead and has delivered at crucial times.

Namoff, 29, helped set up Luciano Emilio’s game-winner against the Houston Dynamo on April 4 with a long cross.

He combined with Santino Quaranta to create Rodney Wallace’s early goal in a 3-2 win over the New York Red Bulls on April 26.

And last week, Namoff delivered a perfect, long pass that led to a goal by Jaime Moreno in a 2-1 victory over FC Dallas.

Those three assists tie Namoff with Quaranta for the lead on the club, success that he attributes to the good running of the team’s forwards and midfielders.

“I’m getting some great runs up front,” Namoff said. “It makes my job easy to put a ball in a dangerous area. In our training sessions we are running those patterns of play, and it’s paying off.”

Namoff, in his ninth season, had never earned more than two assists in a campaign except for his rookie year in 2001, when he recorded seven.

“In 2001, I was a defensive midfielder, so I was in the attack a little bit more,” Namoff said. “Now I have to look more to put balls in dangerous areas.”

Said coach Tom Soehn: “We have worked a lot this year on distribution from the back, and to his credit he has taken pride in that. We have created not just goals, but good opportunities from his service.”

Namoff is United’s third-longest serving veteran after Moreno and Ben Olsen and has become a key fixture in the right-back role.

“He is playing with a lot of confidence,” midfielder Clyde Simms said. “The other night he was doing one-twos and dribbling the ball out of the back.”

Namoff will look for another big performance Saturday against Toronto FC (3-2-3, 12 points) in a top-of-the-table battle at RFK Stadium. United (3-1-4, 13 points) sits atop the Eastern Conference - one point above Toronto - and is riding a four-game unbeaten streak. Toronto, off to the best start in franchise history, is playing with a new 4-3-3 offensive formation under interim coach Chris Cummins. Cummins replaced John Carver, who quit last month.

Toronto midfielder Dwayne De Rosario is playing out wide in the midfield, while 2004 MVP and playmaker Amado Guevara (three goals, three assists) is playing as a withdrawn striker behind Chad Barrett and Danny Dichio.

“It’s important that we do a good job in possession and turn them into defenders,” Soehn said.

Both teams are coming off midweek games. Soehn rested a number of key players in Wednesday’s 1-1 tie at the Kansas City Wizards, but Toronto fielded a full team in the club’s 1-0 win over the second division Vancouver Whitecaps in the Canadian Championship.

Toronto has lost in all three of its previous visits to RFK, giving up 11 goals.

Notes - Ben Olsen (hamstring), who was rested for Wednesday’s tie at Kansas City, is listed as questionable for the game, as is Andrew Jacobson (ankle). …

United fans are organizing a rally Saturday in support of a new stadium. The rally begins at 3:30 p.m. at Lincoln Park. The fans then will march eight blocks to RFK Stadium. Transport to Lincoln Park will be provided from RFK from 2:20 to 3:30 p.m. The march will end at Lot 8 at RFK, and United president Kevin Payne will address the crowd at 5 p.m.

“We hope the political leadership of the District and the region pay attention,” Payne said. …

United will host the New York Red Bulls in a U.S. Open Cup play-in game on May 20 at RFK. The game kicks off at 7 p.m.

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