- The Washington Times - Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Major League Soccer’s best team proved last night it could play with one of Europe’s best teams as D.C. United defeated Scottish Premier League champion Celtic FC 4-0.

The international friendly, played on a muddy field before 15,223 at RFK Stadium, was anything but friendly.

After an 11-foul first half, play intensified as Celtic forward Kenny Miller took down United defender John Wilson. Despite a retaliatory shove by Wilson, Miller received a red card that knocked him out of the game in the 65th minute.

“I know these guys are very competitive,” United coach Peter Nowak said. “You don’t want to have young kids like our team playing all around you, and it was the heat of the moment. Fortunately nothing happened with injuries.”

On the indirect penalty kick that followed, defender Bobby Boswell headed midfielder Christian Gomez’s pass past Celtic goalie David Marshall to put United ahead 3-0.

Boswell, who scored United’s only goal in last year’s friendly against England’s Chelsea FC, immediately ran to the stands and jumped into the part of the raucous crowd known as La Norte. The fans who make up La Norte regularly bang on drums, wave United flags and throw dozens of rolls of toilet paper onto the field.

“It was a good night — we came out on fire,” Boswell said. “It’s one thing to go out there and compete with them. It’s another thing to go out there and dominate them.”

But Boswell’s goal was only one of many theatrics displayed by United last night. Freddy Adu, who has scored just one MLS goal this season, took control of the first half.

Adu managed to remain onside after slipping through a seam in the defense to take a pass from Gomez. It set up Adu for a breakaway on which he easily tapped the ball past Marshall in the 44th minute to give United a 1-0 lead.

“Right when the ball left [Gomez’s] foot, I took off, and the rest was history,” Adu said.

Although it took nearly an entire half to score, United dominated the first half, out-shooting Celtic 10-2. Marshall, who started in place of Polish World Cup goalkeeper Artur Boruc, had to come up with four first-half saves.

Boruc was not the only marquee player missing from last night’s game. Celtic midfielder Shunsuke Nakamura and forward Maciej Zurawski did not make the trip to the District after competing in the World Cup.

United played without its leading scorer, forward Jaime Moreno, and MLS’s best goalie, Troy Perkins. Nowak said he wanted to rest both and give others some playing time.

“I heard [Celtic was] missing two Polish guys,” the Polish-born Nowak joked about the lopsided score. “No, seriously, this was a good result. The most satisfying part was the young kids. They were really excited, and they came in and energized this game.”

The lack of star power did not prevent United forward Jamil Walker, who replaced Alecko Eskandarian in the second half, from making his presence felt. Walker rocketed a curveball from 22 yards out that gave United a 2-0 lead in the 57th minute.

United’s final goal came in the 78th minute as three reserve players linked up. Defender David Stokes played the ball to forward Matt Nickell, spreading the Celtic defense. Nickell then sent a pass across the goalie’s box to forward Andy Metcalf, who buried an off-balance shot into the left corner.

Nick Rimando, who was slated to be United’s starting goalie this season before an injury forced him to take a back seat to Perkins, recorded four saves on six shots.

The victory improves United to 22-9-5 in international competition. D.C. (12-1-5) will return to MLS action Saturday night against the Columbus Crew (4-7-6) at RFK.

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