- The Washington Times - Friday, August 20, 2004

D.C. United hates leaving home.

With just one win away from RFK Stadium this season, United is on track to post the worst road record in Major League Soccer for the third time in its nine-year history.

United (6-8-7) travels to the Columbus Crew (7-5-8) today, hoping to prove it can win on hostile turf. It won’t be easy. Columbus is 5-2-3 at home and riding an eight-game unbeaten streak. Its star player, Kyle Martino, is in excellent form.

And awaiting United will be a sellout crowd of more than 23,000 at Crew Stadium, mostly because of Freddy Adu. The 15-year-old will make his first trip to Columbus and likely will start his third straight game.

United has nine games left, and five are on the road. Asked why the team is 1-6-3 on the road, coach Peter Nowak said it refuses to revert to defensive soccer and often is penalized by bad calls.

“We always play our style,” Nowak said. “Sometimes we get punished, but we are not going to bunker. We want to play an open game. Sometimes there is a lack of concentration, and we get punished by cheap goals. No one scores good goals against us — we just make mistakes.”

United’s lone win — a 1-0 victory against New England — came on May29. Last season, the club went 4-8-3 on the road. In 2002 (1-10-3) and 2001 (2-12-0), United was the worst in the league away from home.

Right foot please — Just as former D.C. United midfielder Marco Etcheverry favored his left foot, replacement Christian Gomez constantly uses the outside of his right foot with remarkable accuracy.

The Argentine midfielder, who was acquired by United last Saturday and will wear No.13, appears to be a creative midfielder capable of holding the ball, something the team has lacked since Etcheverry retired last season.

Gomez, 29, originally was spotted by former United coach Ray Hudson in November 2002 on a scouting trip to Argentina. United claimed Gomez as a discovery player and has the option of signing him to a three-year contract at the end of the season. Nowak did not rule out Gomez being available for tonight’s game.

Also available tonight is midfielder Tim Lawson, signed this week as a replacement for Thiago Martins, who suffered a season-ending injury. Lawson joins United from German club SV Elversberg.

Corner kicks — The firing of Sigi Schmid by the Los Angeles Galaxy took many observers by surprise this week. The Galaxy lead the Western Conference with a 9-6-7 record (34 points), and Schmid recently coached the West in the MLS All-Star Game at RFK.

Schmid was replaced by former U.S. team boss Steve Sampson. Rumor has it Schmid could be in line to coach the Seattle team that will join MLS in 2006. His son plays for the University of Washington. …

How about that back-heel kick by Los Angeles star Carlos Ruiz in Sunday’s scoreless tie between the Galaxy and the Crew? Six yards out and with his back to the goal in a huddle of players, Ruiz sent the ball inches over the bar. If the ball had gone in, it would have been another amazing goal from the talented Guatemalan star. …

Then there’s Landon Donovan’s strange goal celebration after his first strike in San Jose’s 2-0 win over Kansas City. Donovan celebrated his strike by curling an imaginary moustache, forcing TV commentator Eric Wynalda to say, “I don’t think Landon could grow a moustache if he tried.” …

According to Sky Sports, English club Coventry City is no longing seeking to sign former United midfielder Tony Sanneh, who is a free agent after being released by German team Nuremberg. Sanneh, 33, could be headed back to MLS.

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