- The Washington Times - Friday, September 20, 2002

For the third straight season, D.C. United will miss the playoffs and finish with a losing season.

United now owns the second-longest playoff drought in Major League Soccer history. Only San Jose missed the postseason more straight seasons (four) than United.

Eddie Johnson's game-winning goal in the 96th minute put United out of its season-long misery, as the Burn defeated United 4-3 in overtime before 13,889 last night in the regular-season finale at RFK Stadium.

United (9-14-5) finished last in the 10-team MLS. Eight teams make the postseason.

For United to be taken seriously and return to a championship caliber club, sweeping changes need to be made throughout the organization.

"Obviously, there's things that need to be put right with this squad," United coach Ray Hudson said.

If United would have won the game, the club would have remained alive for a playoff spot. Now, United has its entire offseason to think about what it needs to do.

Johnson's game-winner came off a nice cross from the touch line from Burn substitute midfielder Joselito Vaca. Vaca crossed back into the box to Johnson. Johnson chested Vaca's cross down and from 11 yards out finished with his left foot. Season over.

United reserve forward Ali Curtis tried to salvage United's season with a 90th minute goal that tied the game 3-3, but United died in overtime.

"It's just been very difficult and disappointing," said Curtis, who finished tied with midfielder Bobby Convey as United's leading scorer this season. "We had a legitimate shot and we didn't take care of business. We didn't clamp down defensively and we let in some goals."

In a surprising move, Hudson started Jose "Chino" Alegria over veteran Richie Williams as defensive midfielder. Williams, who is in the U.S. national team pool, logged 2,279 minutes coming into this game as United's defensive midfielder.

An inadvertent handball call on United left back Bryan Namoff gave the Burn a 1-0 first-half lead and had nothing to do with United's midfield. Namoff, who was loaned last month from the Richmond Kickers, United's A-League affiliate, replaced Brandon Prideaux in the starting lineup.

Referee Ricardo Salazar awarded the Burn (12-9-7) a corner kick in the 33rd minute. Burn midfielder Antonio Martinez took the corner and sent a well-placed ball to the top of the 6-yard box. Martinez was looking for midfielder Oscar Pareja on his corner.

Namoff went up for a header with Pareja in an attempt to clear Martinez' cross out of the box. As he elevated, Namoff turned in midair and his left hand struck the ball. Salazar immediately pointed to the penalty spot.

Burn defender Jorge Rodriguez converted the penalty kick when he beat United goalkeeper Nick Rimando to the right post in the 34th minute. Rimando got a piece of Rodriguez's penalty kick with his left hand, but not enough from preventing the ball ending up in the net's lower right corner and a 1-0 Burn lead.

United midfielder Convey put United right back into the game early in the second half with his team-leading fifth goal of the season. Convey, who had scored just one goal in two seasons prior to this one, executed a give-and-go with Eliseo Quintanilla at the top of the 18-yard box.

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