- The Washington Times - Sunday, August 20, 2006

D.C. United, which looked unstoppable this season until recent weeks, could manage only a 1-1 tie against the Colorado Rapids before 18,006 yesterday at RFK Stadium.

A second-half goal by midfielder Christian Gomez saved United from an embarrassing loss to the Rapids (9-8-5, 32 points), who are third in the Western Conference.

United (13-2-8, 47 points), which went 14 games without a loss until a 2-1 loss at Real Salt Lake on July 29, has now gone four games without a win, earning three ties and loss and recording just three points from a possible 12.

United looked sluggish and ineffective in the first half but showed more promise after tough talk from coach Peter Nowak at halftime.

“The coach told us at halftime that our energy wasn’t that great and he got under our skin a little, and we then came out on fire, but we just couldn’t get that second goal,” United defender Bobby Boswell said.

Nowak chastised his players for not using the flanks and not being aggressive.

“When we used the wings, we gave Colorado trouble,” Nowak said. “I’m really tired of this one point here, one point there. We need to be more hungry.”

But it was all United in the opening minutes. Defender Facundo Erpen delivered a powerful 35-yard shot in the ninth minute, which Rapids goalie Joe Cannon had to punch clear. Then Freddy Adu fired a curling left-footer over the bar.

Meanwhile, the Rapids could barely string three passes together. It seemed the only way they would score would be from a set play, and that opportunity arrived in the 32nd minute, when the Rapids won a corner kick. Nicolas Hernandez took the corner, floating a nice ball to Kyle Beckerman, a former star at Arundel High School in Gambrills, Md., who rose between two United players and headed the ball past goalie Troy Perkins.

“I always get up to play, especially against D.C, not only because they are a great team but because this is my hometown,” said Beckerman, who grew up in Crofton, Md. It was only the eighth goal United has given up at RFK in 11 games this season.

In the second half, United forward Jamil Walker replaced defender David Stokes, who made his first start of the season in place of the suspended Bryan Namoff.

Walker immediately had an impact and found himself with only Cannon to beat but blew the shot.

But in the 56th minute, Jaime Moreno showed composure inside the 18-yard box, controlling the ball and sending Rapids defender Mike Petke the wrong way. He then laid off a perfect pass to Gomez, who shot passed Cannon from 7 yards to tie the game 1-1 for his eighth goal of the season.

“I’m just disappointed the way we played,” Moreno said. “In the second half, we were much better. We’ve got to talk and find out what’s wrong because we don’t want to go through what happened last year in the playoffs, so I think it’s good this is happening now. … We have to put our feet on the ground and not think that we are Real Madrid or Manchester United — we are D.C. United.”

Perkins later kept the point for United, pulling off a big save when he stopped a shot from Thiago Martins with his foot.

Gomez left the field with a hamstring sprain in the 70th minute and was replaced by Domenic Mediate.

“Everything was bad in the first half for us,” D.C. United midfielder Joshua Gros said. “We didn’t come out to play and everyone looked tired. We just weren’t sharp in the first half for whatever reason.”

Crew 1, Red Bulls 0

COLUMBUS, Ohio — Joseph Ngwenya scored the lone goal for Columbus, which ended its team-record, 13-game winless streak with a victory over New York.

Ngwenya charged down the right side and into the penalty area before slipping a left-footed shot between the legs of defender Carlos Mendes and past goalkeeper Tony Meola.

The Crew’s string of futility was the second longest in MLS history, behind Real Salt Lake’s 18-game skid that stretched from last season to the start of this year. Columbus is 5-11-8 and in last place in Eastern Conference.

The Red Bulls (5-7-10) had a five-game unbeaten streak snapped. They haven’t scored in two games under new head coach Bruce Arena.

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