- The Washington Times - Saturday, July 29, 2006

Already riding a franchise-best 14-game unbeaten streak, D.C. United could reach another milestone tonight.

With a tie or win at Real Salt Lake, United will have at least 46 points, a total all but guaranteeing a postseason berth with 11 games remaining. No team in MLS history has totaled 46 points and not made the playoffs.

Kansas City failed to make the postseason last year after finishing with 45 points.

United (13-1-6) has a league-best 45 points now, nine more than FC Dallas and 20 points more than New England, the closest Eastern Conference opponent.

Accumulating points in the regular season has added value this year because the team with the most points earns an automatic bid to the CONCACAF Champions League tournament along with the MLS Cup winner. Previously, the MLS Cup winner and MLS Cup runner-up claimed those two berths.

With still 11 games to play, United could break its franchise-best total of 58 points in 1998, when the team finished 24-8.

Struggling Real Salt Lake, however, is 4-10-5 with only 17 points, worst in the league.

While United leads MLS with 37 goals — an average of 1.85 a game, just above the team’s 10-year, league-high average of 1.72 — it is also earning points cheaply this season. United has scored just one goal in 10 of the 19 games it either won or tied this season.

On the other side, United has allowed an MLS-best 17 goals. The way the season is going, United could easily record its best defensive season, eclipsing the 2003 season, when it allowed just 36 goals.

The league record for fewest goals allowed in a season is 29 by three teams — Los Angeles (1999), Kansas City (2000) and San Jose (2001).

United fun — The United players were treated this week to two days of fun at the Denver-area ranch of club owner-operator Phil Anschutz. … Real Salt Lake, currently the worst team in MLS, bolstered its defense this week with the signing of 6-foot-2, 23-year-old Jack Stewart from Chicago.

Donovan closing in — With striker Brian McBride retiring from international soccer this week, 24-year-old Landon Donovan, with 25 goals in 84 games, is the closest U.S. player to catching the national team’s all-time leading goal scorer, Eric Wynalda, who had 34. McBride scored 30 goals in 95 games and is the second all-time leading scorer behind Wynalda. … American defender Cory Gibbs has finally earned a work permit and can play for Charlton Athletic in the English Premier League. … The U.S. women take on Canada tomorrow at SAS Soccer Park, in Cary, N.C., at 1 p.m. (ESPN2).

Feel the noise — England star David Beckham has been told to keep the noise down. Apparently, a pre-World Cup party at “Beckingham Palace,” Beckham’s stately home in England, was so loud the local council hotline was jammed with neighbors complaining. In the future, environmental health officials will now monitor sound levels of events held by Beckham, who will play against D.C. United with Real Madrid in Seattle on Aug. 9. … Wayne Rooney has just bought a $4.5 million mansion on six acres that, according to the Daily Mail, looks like the Ewing’s family ranch from the 1980s television series Dallas. Still, poor Rooney is smarting over the recent burglary of his parents’ house in Liverpool, where robbers took off with a number of his prized awards, including his 2006 World Cup shirt and his 2002 BBC Young Sports Personality of the Year trophy.

Overseas news — Columbia, Md., native Brian West, 28, has ruptured an Achilles tendon and will miss the rest of the season in Norway with his club Fredrikstad F.K. The Centennial High School graduate has three goals in 14 games this season. … Billionaire Randy Lerner, who owns the NFL’s Cleveland Browns, is reportedly interested in buying Premier League club Aston Villa. … More than 100,000 tickets have already been sold for the three-game American tour of European Champions FC Barcelona, which includes games against Mexican club Chivas at Los Angeles Coliseum (Aug. 6) and Mexican team Club America in Houston (Aug. 9) and the New York Red Bulls (Aug. 12). Barcelona features some of soccer’s top stars such as Ronaldinho, Lionel Messi, Samuel Eto’o, Gianluca Zambrotta and Lilian Thuram.

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