- The Washington Times - Thursday, April 17, 2008

A British newspaper once suggested attending a game between archrival Buenos Aires clubs Boca Juniors and River Plate was one of the 50 things a person must do before dying.

Most fans will never get to Argentina, but a small slice of one of the world’s most famous soccer rivalries will be on display tonight when D.C. United (1-2-0, three points) plays host to the Columbus Crew (2-1-0, six points) at RFK Stadium.

United midfielder Marcelo Gallardo, who played 186 games for River Plate, will face his old foe, Columbus midfielder Guillermo Barros Schelotto, who played 196 games for Boca Juniors.

“The Boca-River is a unique classico anywhere in the world,” Gallardo said.

Gallardo scored 42 goals in his two stints with River. Schelotto scored 61 goals at Boca and is considered one of the club’s idols.

“I don’t have too any memories of those games, but I do remember that Guillermo was the catalyst for many of Boca’s wins against us,” Gallardo said.

Schelotto also served as the catalyst behind Columbus’ 4-3 home win over Chivas USA on Saturday. He scored a goal and added two assists — a performance that helped him earn MLS player of the week honors.

Meanwhile, Gallardo, United’s expensive playmaker, sat on the bench at Real Salt Lake and watched United fall 4-0 — the largest margin of victory in Real’s history.

In his time at River, Gallardo helped the club win five domestic titles and claim the Copa Libertadores in 1996. Schelotto led Boca to six domestic awards and the Copa Libertadores four times.

“People in Argentina talk about the game two weeks out,” Schelotto said.

Tonight’s nationally televised game also will be broadcast live in Argentina.

After an intense schedule in recent weeks, United coach Tom Soehn rested Gallardo, goalie Zach Wells and defender Gonzalo Martinez against Real Salt Lake.

Wells and Gallardo return tonight, but Martinez, who’s battling a hamstring injury, will be a game-day decision.

“Any time you have a bad performance — and that was one of our worst in a long time — you are always excited to get back on the field and prove what you are about,” Soehn said.

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