- The Washington Times - Friday, March 16, 2007

Brazilian striker Luciano Emilio waited until extra time to make sure he and D.C. United weren’t shut out last night in the first game of their semifinal series of the CONCACAF Champions’ Cup.

Emilio’s goal — his fourth in three games with his new team — lifted United to a 1-1 tie against CD Guadalajara at RFK Stadium, putting the aggregate goal series on the line when United visits Mexico on April 3.

Even last night, a majority of the crowd of 26,528 cheered on Chivas, Mexico’s most storied club, while drowning out the United fans. A Chivas fan even stopped play when he ran on the field. It was the biggest crowd at a United home game since Freddy Adu’s debut at RFK on April 3, 2004.

If playing before a Chivas-friendly crowd last night weren’t tough enough, United must now search for goals in the return game in the altitude in Mexico.

“Once you’re in the game mode you don’t think about the crowd,” United coach Tom Soehn said. “I think all you hear are our own fans.”

Chivas, which is nine games into its regular season, clearly showed its fitness and took the game to United, which doesn’t start its regular season until April 7.

“I was a little disappointed in the way we came out and our mentality towards the game,” Soehn said. “I thought we didn’t handle the pressure well, and credit to them: They came in and put pressure on us. Towards the end we started to believe in ourselves, but it’s going to take a better effort than today to get a result in the next game.”

The game was physical, and Bobby Boswell and Christian Gomez were yellow-carded in the first 20 minutes.

“I think both sides wanted to win, and towards the end it got chippy,” United midfielder Ben Olsen said. “These are a big deal, these games … and you sometimes get cynical stuff. In the end it’s a good battle, a good 1-1 tie on a day when we didn’t play the best soccer.”

United goalie Troy Perkins pulled off a big save on a shot by Francisco Rodriguez in the 24th minute as United weathered the pressure from the Chivas offense.

The second half began much the same as the first, with United having to absorb the Chivas attack and Perkins called on to smother dangerous shots.

United brought on midfielder Stephen deRoux in for Brian Carroll in the 60th minute. In the 63rd minute, Mexican national team star Omar Bravo headed in a fine cross from Sergio Santana past Perkins, with United’s defense stretched, to make it 1-0. United responded by bringing on Jamil Walker for Jaime Moreno to add energy and pace to its game.

Then with clock ticking down, Emilio saved United as he headed in Gomez’s free kick from just outside the penalty box on the right flank in the 91st minute.

The Champions’ Cup decides the best club in the North, Central American and Caribbean region. Reaching the final of the Cup guarantees a berth in the Copa Sudamericana for the loser or the prestigious FIFA Club World Cup for the winner.

In the night’s other semifinal game, the Houston Dynamo beat Mexico’s Pachuca 2-0.

Note — D.C. United’s new unannounced Brazilian signing, Fred, was at the game. Fred recently was a star of Australia’s A-League, in which he played for Melbourne Victory.

United signed goalie Shawn Crowe (Florida International) and forward Brad North (Northwestern) to developmental contracts. …

On Wednesday, United signed 19-year-old midfielder Kasali Yinka Casal to a senior contract. He joined the club from England’s Fulham FC.


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