- The Washington Times - Sunday, June 25, 2006

Enduring a rain-soaked second half, including a 39-minute delay, D.C. United held off the Kansas City Wizards for a 1-0 victory, extending their home unbeaten streak to nine games in front of 13,834.

Lightning in the 51st minute forced the delay, but less than a minute after play resumed, Jaime Moreno scored the game’s only goal — his ninth of the season, good for second in Major League Soccer.

Moreno leads the league in game-winning goals with five.

United midfielder Clyde Simms sent a long pass from his own end to Joshua Gros in the left corner of the attack zone. Gros then passed across the goalie box, where Moreno split for a pair of Wizards defenders for the goal.

It was Simms’ first career assist and Gros’ 11th.

“I’ve never been part of a rain delay before except Little League baseball, but we were ready to go,” Gros said. “We were in here going stir crazy and when they finally let us out we just … pounced on them. We caught them off guard and [Simms] played a great ball. It was an easy pass to [Moreno].”

With the win, United cemented its position atop the Eastern Conference over the second-place Wizards by 12 points.

Although it had nothing to show for their efforts, Kansas City dominated the first half, outshooting United 5-2, four of those shots on goal.

But United goalkeeper Troy Perkins kept his team in the game with numerous saves, including a diving block against Wizards forward Scott Sealy, who broke free from the defense in the 26th minute.

After missing his first shot, Sealy fired the rebound at point-blank range, but Perkins came up with what ultimately became a game-saving stop. Perkins finished with six saves and his league-leading fifth shutout of the season.

“We got caught a little flat and they played it through,” Perkins said. “Sealy is quick and strong, so he got in on us. So I just did what I could and I got lucky.”

Although Perkins is in a rhythm, United coach Peter Nowak hinted that injured starting goalie Nick Rimando might get some playing time this month.

Hampered by numerous injuries, Nowak gave midfielder Devon McTavish his first career start in place of midfielder Domenic Mediate.

In the 37th minute of the first half, McTavish took his first career shot — which sailed high and bounced off the crossbar — in the 37th minute.

“I was like what the heck, ‘I might as well have a shot’ and I hit as hard as I could,” McTavish said. “I was already celebrating.”

The first half also included five failed corner kicks.

The dirt of the Nationals’ baseball field poked through the sloppy, torn-up grass, so the players had to compensate for the poor footing and uneven turf.

“In these weather conditions you have to play as a team,” Nowak said. “Defensively we made some mistakes that nearly gave me a heart attack … But it was too hot for Kansas City and we were just better with the ball [in the second half].

“With running, fighting, scratching, grabbing we are always going to fight for the three points.”

A scoreboard filled with zeros is uncommon for United, which leads MLS in goals (28) and goal differential (+16).

United, which is 3-0 against the Wizards this season, travels to Kansas City on Wednesday.

Notes — The return of midfielder Ben Olsen, who recently arrived back the District after playing in the World Cup, is still unknown, Nowak said, but he could play in Kansas City. … United had numerous players out with injuries last night: Brandon Prideaux (MCL sprain), Mediate (concussion), Alecko Eskandrian (MCL sprain), Rimando (leg contusion) and Jamil Walker (lower back strain). … United improved to 3-1-2 when tied at halftime.

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