- The Washington Times - Sunday, August 5, 2007

After three intense games in just eight days in the inaugural SuperLiga tournament, D.C. United returns to MLS business today at the New England Revolution.

“We have to turn our minds back to league play and start over again and change our focus,” said United defender Bryan Namoff, who is hoping to make his first start in eight games.

United went 1-1-1 in the SuperLiga, which pits top American and Mexican clubs, scoring just two goals but still earned a spot in the semifinals against the Los Angeles Galaxy.

Meanwhile, United (7-6-3, 24 points) has dropped to fifth in the Eastern Conference. It is currently clinging to the last playoff spot with 14 games left. The Revolution (9-3-6, 33 points) lead the conference, coming off a 2-0 home win over the Kansas City Wizards on Thursday.

“It feels like those teams have started to pull away from us and we need to get back in the hunt,” Namoff said.

But United will have to contend with injuries. The team’s key playmaker, Christian Gomez, did not practice with the team yesterday but did some light running while nursing a charley horse. He did travel with the team.

United will be without Brazilian midfielder Fred, who is serving a red card suspension, which may open the way for Namoff to finally get back in the starting lineup after struggling with a hamstring injury. Namoff, who hasn’t started since the Real Salt Lake game on June 24, played 20 minutes in the SuperLiga at the Houston Dynamo on Wednesday.

In the absence of Namoff and the injured Greg Vanney, offensive players Josh Gros and Marc Burch have taken on defensive roles.

“With Fred out, there’s the option that Josh Gros could move into the midfield to take Fred’s place or even Marc Burch could push up into the midfield,” Namoff said.

Goals haven’t come easy for United of late. Apart from its 3-3 tie with FC Dallas, United has not scored more than one goal in a match in its last seven games, including SuperLiga and MLS games.

Luciano Emilio, who is United’s leading scorer with 10 goals, hasn’t scored in the past four games.

“The good thing is we are creating chances,” Namoff said. “Not scoring is frustrating, but we are just waiting to turn the corner and when we turn that page the goals will come.”

Jaime Moreno is expected to start today. Moreno played the last 27 minutes of United’s 1-0 loss to Houston in the SuperLiga, returning after sitting out three games with a hamstring injury.

The Bolivian striker is tied with Jason Kreis for the most goals in MLS history with 108. His three goals this season have all come on penalty kicks.

“We’ve kind of lost touch with that record,” Namoff said. “It would be nice for Jaime to break it up there, but it would be better in front of the fans at home.”

Notes — United will face the Los Angeles Galaxy and possibly David Beckham before a sold-out RFK Stadium on Thursday. United will travel to play the Galaxy again on Aug. 15 in the semifinal game of the SuperLiga. …

Tickets for the MLS Cup 2007, which will be held at RFK Stadium on Nov. 18, go on sale Thursday.

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