- The Washington Times - Saturday, August 20, 2005

D.C. United’s latest signing, Argentine defender Facundo Erpen, may have to wait a little longer before he gets his first start.

Erpen, who joined the team Aug. 10 as a youth international, is still working his way into match-shape but could see some minutes off the bench today against the visiting Los Angeles Galaxy at RFK Stadium.

United, unbeaten in six games, is playing so well coach Peter Nowak is unlikely to tinker with his starting lineup.

Erpen was scheduled to make his United debut in Tuesday’s friendly at the minor league Harrisburg (Pa.) City Islanders, but United officials decided against it because of poor field conditions.

“He’s not a hundred percent fit, and the field was very dodgy,” United technical director Dave Kasper said. “We didn’t want his first experience in America to be a bad one.”

Erpen, who has played more than 50 games in Argentina’s first division, was scouted by United for eight months as a possible central-defender. However, rookie Bobby Boswell has been in fine form in the middle of the United backline, earning two goals and an assist in 21 matches and solidifying a starting job.

“Bobby is playing very well and at the moment is the leading candidate for rookie of the year,” Kasper said. “Facundo maybe has to play in a different spot.”

United’s roster is still not set. By the end of next week the club is expected to announce the signing of an international player, either a forward or wide midfielder, to replace the departed Steve Guppy.

In the meantime, United (11-6-5, 38 points) is riding a four-game winning streak and scoring with ease. The defending MLS champion has scored three goals in each of its last three games, including back-to-back home shutouts of Chivas USA and the MetroStars. The last time D.C. United went on such a goal-scoring winning streak (not including a shootout) was 1997, when it beat the San Jose Clash (3-1), Columbus Crew (3-2), Clash again (3-2) and Colorado Rapids (5-0).

The four-game winning streak is longer than any United had in the regular season last year.

“I would say we have more depth than last season,” Kasper said. “It makes training sessions very competitive because everyone wants to play.”

Landon Donovan, the highest-paid player in MLS and perhaps the best American player, leads the Galaxy (9-9-5, 32 points) into town. He has been in excellent form for the U.S. national team, leading it with seven goals in 2006 World Cup qualifying. He leads Los Angeles with seven goals and six assists in just 13 starts.

“Landon is always a handful, but we will be OK,” said United midfielder Ben Olsen, who is questionable for today’s game with a hip injury. “We are pretty confident in what we are doing. Saying that, I don’t think Chivas and the MetroStars have been doing great this year, and L.A. will be a bigger test.”

The Galaxy, however, have compiled only a 2-8-1 record on the road, and both “away” wins were over Chivas USA, with which they share the Home Depot Center. Freddy Adu’s late goal beat the Galaxy 1-0 at the Home Depot Center last month.

Adu is questionable for tonight’s game with a knee injury.

Madrid bound — United forward Jaime Moreno and goalie Nick Rimando have been named to the 19-man MLS Select roster that will travel to play Spanish giants Real Madrid in an exhibition game in Madrid on Tuesday. New England Revolution coach Steve Nicol will lead the American squad in the Trofeo Santiago Bernabeu, traditionally Real Madrid’s last preseason game before the start of the Spanish La Liga season, which kicks off next week.

The team includes goalies Matt Reis and Rimando; defenders Jose Burciaga Jr., Jimmy Conrad, Frankie Hejduk, Chad Marshall, Pablo Mastroeni and Douglas Sequeira; midfielders Ricardo Clark, Clint Dempsey, Youri Djorkaeff, Amado Guevara, Shalrie Joseph, Justin Mapp and Ronnie O’Brien; and forwards Jeff Cunningham, Donovan, Jason Kreis and Moreno.

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