- The Washington Times - Sunday, July 22, 2007

After giving up three goals to FC Dallas last week, Troy Perkins and D.C. United assistant coach Mark Simpson took another look at his mistakes on film.

Perkins believes, and United hopes, his mistakes are easily fixable and shouldn’t continue, starting today when the team travels to New York to face the Red Bulls.

“My footwork let me down a little bit,” Perkins said. “Instead of going straight to the ball, I actually took two steps out and then back. That delays it and your timing is off a little bit.”

United (7-5-3) and the Red Bulls (7-6-3) are tied for third place in the Eastern Conference with 24 points, and trail the New England Revolution (26 points) and the Kansas City Wizards (25 points) in the standings. New York fell out of first place after losing 1-0 to the Revolution on July 14, the team’s fourth loss in its last six games.

New York will be without forward Juan Pablo Angel, who has nine goals and two assists this season. Angel earned a red card last week after elbowing Revolution midfielder Shalrie Joseph.

United will play without forward Jaime Moreno and midfielder Ben Olsen. Moreno left the Dallas game in the 54th minute because of a strained hamstring, while Olsen was suspended for totaling five cautions on the season.

“They’re obviously a good attacking team,” United defender Josh Gros said of the Red Bulls. “They have a lot of talent, but it’s an obvious point we need to shut down their offense. We’re still improving as a backline. That will come with time. It’s more talking and more practice.”

United coach Tom Soehn agrees, and he believes United’s spacing in both the attack and backline allowed Dallas to exploit mistakes.

“What was lacking was we didn’t defend from the start with the forwards,” Soehn said. “Everybody talks about defenders. Defending starts from the front. When you’re attacking with six guys and one ball beats five or six guys, you’re strung out. It was a team concept of defending. We didn’t do a good job.”

Before falling apart against Dallas, United previously had allowed one goal or less in 10 of its last 12 games. Defender Greg Vanney thinks the communication and positioning of the backline needs to improve to prevent a similar breakdown.

“You don’t need to do a lot of running to defend,” Vanney said. “You need to get in good starting positions and clog up things. That way the game doesn’t have to become wide open and you don’t have to chase the game. That way you can conserve energy, defend out of good positions and slow down the attack.”

Added United defender Bobby Boswell: “We got a little lax and got a little tired. It’s a freak thing. We will make sure that doesn’t happen again.”

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