- The Washington Times - Sunday, September 1, 2002

After getting burned twice for second-half goals by Landon Donovan, Eddie Pope one-upped his U.S. World Cup teammate last night and scored the game winner for D.C. United.
Pope's header in the 84th minute snapped the team's 10-game winless streak as United defeated the San Jose Earthquakes 4-2 before 14,158 last night at RFK Stadium.
United's four-goal explosion against the best team in the MLS equaled its largest output of the season. The offensive explosion was an aberrations for a team that has had serious problems finding the back of the net. United's four goals last night represented nearly one-fifth of its season output.
With the game tied at 2, midfielder Marco Etcheverry sent a corner kick into the 6-yard box. Pope soared over Earthquakes defender Jimmy Conrad and delivered a perfect header inside the right post that made it 3-2. United added an insurance goal by reserve midfielder Petter Villegas in the 86th minute which resulted in the final score.
"Eddie Pope rolled the dice and left his defensive position," United coach Ray Hudson said. "But it was Russian roulette tonight."
Said Pope: "As a team, we tried to stop asking ourselves, 'What's going wrong and how come we're having so much bad luck?'"
For a while, it looked like the Donovan-led Earthquakes (13-9-3) were going to leave United (7-12-5) in its winless ways the team's last win came on June 29, a 1-0 overtime victory over Los Angeles Galaxy at RFK. Donovan, who scored two goals for the United States in June's World Cup, struck twice within nine minutes in the second half.
With United ahead 1-0, Donovan received a ball from midfielder Richard Mulrooney and cut across the top of the 18-yard box, beating Pope. He then perfectly placed a 19-yard, right-footed shot just inside the left post from to tie the score 1-1 in the 49th minute.
In the 58th minute, Donovan gave the Earthquakes a 2-1 lead when he and midfielder Manny Lagos hooked up on a give-and-go. Donovan passed to Lagos and received the ball back from the midfielder at the top of the 18-yard box. The 20-year-old striker then sliced through the heart of United's defense toward the goal. He went through midfielder Richie Williams and defenders Pope, Ryan Nelsen and Milton Reyes before he reached the 6-yard box and tucked the ball into the right corner.
"That first 15 minutes of the second half was awful," Nelsen said. "I was embarrassed to wear the shirt at that stage for the fans, but the next 20 to 25 minutes was by far the best of the season."
Coming into the game, United was goalless in 11 of 23 MLS games this season and 13 matches if all competitions are counted. United, which had scored two goals in its last seven games, came into last night's game last in the league in every offensive category goals (21), assists (26), shots (265) and shots on goal (126).
Bobby Convey's strike in the 38th minute gave United a 1-0 halftime lead.
Nelsen, a New Zealand national team member, scored his fourth goal of the season in the 74th minute and became United's leading goal scorer for the season.
On the goal Villegas, who came on for midfielder Ben Olsen, crossed a ball into the box from the right flank. Earthquakes defender Troy Dayak went up for a header and the ball glanced off his head. Nelsen reached back and fought off Earthquakes defender Wade Barrett for the ball at the 6-yard box. He was able to keep Barrett off the ball and tucked it home inside the left post to tie the game 2-2.
The Earthquakes had nothing to play for last night. San Jose, which has been MLS' best team for most of the season, already clinched a playoff berth.

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