- The Washington Times - Monday, April 3, 2006

While D.C. United tied the New York Red Bulls 2-2 in its season opener yesterday, the team did come away with a number of positives.

United striker Alecko Eskandarian, who hadn’t played since June after suffering a serious concussion, scored a stunning goal as United fought back from a two-goal deficit before 23,028 fans. Forward Lucio Filomeno, in his first start for the club, also played well. Freddy Adu made some good runs and earned two assists.

The game proved United has a number of offensive options this season.

“It was good to see the boys respond,” United coach Peter Nowak said. “I was proud of them, but we need to work on things. We played too slow and too predictable. … Alecko is very valuable to our team. He scored a goal and played the way we want.”

United looked sharp in the first 14 minutes, and Red Bulls goalie Tony Meola was forced to make two big saves on shots from Josh Gros and Adu. Things then began to fall apart for United.

The Red Bulls scored on a free kick in the 15th minute by French World Cup star Youri Djorkaeff. The 38-year-old striker curled his shot from 35 yards out, high into right-hand corner of United’s goal, giving backup goalie Troy Perkins no chance. Before the United players could recover, New York made it 2-0 three minutes later.

United’s defense looked shaky, suffering from the loss of Bobby Boswell, who was out with a flu-like virus. Perkins, who was screened by his own teammate, defender Brandon Prideaux, could only parry Seth Stammler’s cross.

The ball fell to Red Bulls striker Edson Buddle, who easily slotted the shot into United’s net. Buddle joined New York just last week from the Columbus Crew.

In second half, Nowak brought on Eskandarian to replace midfielder Clyde Simms. Wearing protective headgear, Eskandarian added some spark to United and in the 55th minute cut the score to 2-1 with a superb left-foot volley on Gros’ cross.

“I think I put all my frustration in that goal,” said Eskandarian, who thought his career might be over last season after suffering continuous headaches.

The highlight-reel goal seemed to boost United’s confidence.

“He’s dealt with a lot in the last year and a half. Just seeing him score a goal was a special moment,” midfielder Ben Olsen said.

Suddenly, the Red Bulls were under all sorts of pressure and finally cracked. In the 65th minute Olsen laid off Adu’s precise long cross to defender Facundo Erpen. The Argentine fired a low shot from 25 yards out, beating Meola and making it a 2-2 game.

Santino Quaranta replaced the hard-working Filomeno in 75th minute.

United was lucky to stay in the game near the end, when New York’s Jeff Parke sent his shot into the side netting. Then moments later, the game swung the other way, and Meola had to punch clear Quaranta’s long-range blast.

Game notes — Boswell was listed as having pharyngitis, a flu-like condition. John Wilson replaced him in the right-back role. … Midfielder Christian Gomez was suspended. … An estimated 750 Red Bulls fans were given an all-expense paid trip to the game.

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