- The Washington Times - Sunday, October 16, 2005

D.C. United closed out its regular season on a disappointing note last night with a 2-2 tie against the last-place Columbus Crew before 22,463 fans at RFK Stadium.

After last week’s home loss to the MetroStars, the draw was at least respectful but clearly not the best preparation for the MLS playoffs, which begin for United on Friday at the Chicago Fire.

After a dominating four-game winning streak, United has sputtered in its last two games. Last season the club went into the playoffs following a three-game winning streak and won the title.

“The hardest part is now over, now is the easiest part,” United coach Peter Nowak said. “It’s easy, because you don’t need to motivate the players. You don’t need to scream from the bench.”

But there was at least one positive last night. Argentine forward Lucio Filomeno — the club’s newest signing — made his debut and won the penalty kick, which Jaime Moreno converted to salvage a tie.

It took 15 minutes before Columbus had its first shot on goal, but the Crew scored just a few minutes later, when Edson Buddle scored rose high to head in Jamal Sutton’s long throw-in from the sideline, leaving goalie Nick Rimando and Facundo Erpen flat-footed.

United tied the game right at halftime, when Ben Olsen back-heeled a pass right into the path of Dema Kovalenko, who scored his fourth goal of the season past Matt Jordan.

“We had so many chances, what, 16 shots?” said Kovalenko. “We should have scored three or four goals.”

In the second half, Freddy Adu replaced Brian Carroll in an effort to add more offensive power.

Instead, Columbus took the leader seven minutes into the half on another Buddle goal, this one from a yard out.

“We lost a lot of balls and we were lazy on set pieces,” Olsen said.

Filomeno entered the game in the 68th minute and won his penalty kick six minutes.

“We were a little slack,” Moreno said. “We’ve got to get better or in the playoffs we will be punished.”

Moreno finishes the season 9-for-9 on penalty kicks, but he won’t win the Golden Boot award as the league’s leading goal scorer. His 16 goals are one short of former Maryland player Taylor Twellman, who had 17 for the New England Revolution.

Note — United has played 45 games this year in all competitions, the most since 1997. … United faces the Chicago Fire on Friday in the first game of the Eastern Conference semifinal series. The second game will be Sunday, Oct.30, at RFK at 4p.m. United is 0-3 against the Fire in postseason play.

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