- The Washington Times - Sunday, May 14, 2006

D.C. United striker Alecko Eskandarian got the best of Kansas City Wizards goalie Bo Oshoniyi once again.

Oshoniyi was stung by two of Eskandarian’s goals at the 2004 MLS Cup. Then last night, Eskandarian struck again to lead United to a 2-1 win over the Wizards before 18,345 at RFK Stadium.

It seems United’s leading goal-scorer, who boasts a blistering left foot, never scores cheap goals.

“I would prefer to score cheap goals, they’re easier,” Eskandarian said. “In this league you have really got to earn your goals and that’s one of my strengths, so any time I can let it rip, that’s what I do.”

United (4-1-2, 14 points) overtook the Wizards (4-2-1, 13 points) to take first place in the Eastern Conference.

With the team missing midfielder Ben Olsen on national team duty, United coach Peter Nowak made a surprising move, starting both Christian Gomez and Freddy Adu as central midfielders. The move seemed to work.

United took the lead on a stunning goal from Eskandarian just 12 minutes into the game. United’s Jaime Moreno, after collecting a pass from Brian Carroll, made one of his typical runs on the right flank before passing to Gomez. The Argentine chipped the ball over the Wizards backline to Eskandarian, who volleyed it past Oshoniyi with a left-footed blast. Eskandarian, who this season has gotten into trouble with his goal celebrations, celebrated his fourth goal of the campaign with a few push-ups.

“He’s a good player — I’ll give him that — but I don’t think he was planning to go there. He hit the [heck] out of it and it went to the only spot he could go to score,” Oshoniyi said. “Give him credit for taking the ball out of the air and [putting] it where he did.”

But the joy lasted only four minutes. On a counter-attack, Wizards’ striker Ryan Pore beat Carroll into United’s 18-yard box. Adu, running back to cover for United’s defenders, tripped Pore and the referee gave Kansas City a penalty kick. Sasha Victorine easily converted the spot kick to make it 1-1.

United got the make-up call, when the busy Eskandarian, while running down a Gomez pass, was tripped from behind by Matt Groenwald just inside in the box. Moreno took the penalty kick, sending Oshoniyi the wrong way with a simple strike to restore United’s lead. Moreno earned his third goal of the season and the 97th of his career.

“He moved a little before I kicked it so it was easy,” Moreno said.

United came close to extending its lead, when Domenic Mediate, a former Maryland star making his debut for United, had a shot saved by Oshoniyi.

United goalie Troy Perkins pulled off a big save from a Jack Jewsbury strike in the 37th minute, but couldn’t hold on to the shot. Luckily for Perkins, Wizards striker Scott Sealy blew the rebound, which could have tied the game.

The Wizards may have been missing three of their key players, who are away with the U.S. World Cup team, but the visitors certainly kept United’s shaky-looking, three-man defense busy.

Perkins made a fine save in the 57th minute from a close-range shot from Pore and was called on again to stop a Davy Arnaud shot in the 68th minute.

In the final seconds, Oshoniyi denied what looked like certain goals from Moreno and substitute Jamil Walker.

“I think we are very happy to get three points and be in first place,” Nowak said. “This was our goal.”

Game notes — Wizards strikers Josh Wolff and Eddie Johnson and defender Jimmy Conrad are with the U.S. World Cup team in Cary, N.C., as is United’s Olsen. … Following last night’s game — its fifth home game of the season — United faces a stretch where 13 of 20 games will be played on the road. … The United Reserves (0-0-1) will play the Wizards Reserves at RFK’s Auxiliary field today at 10 a.m. United goalie Nick Rimando, back from injury, could be in the net for the reserves.

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