- The Washington Times - Saturday, April 26, 2008

On paper, the ingredients are all there for a D.C. United win over Real Salt Lake at RFK Stadium today:

c The United players had last weekend off after a hectic schedule in which they played five games in 17 days.

c For the first time this month, United put in an uninterrupted week of practice at home.

c Real Salt Lake has an atrocious all-time record on the road (6-33-10) and has never won at RFK, going 0-2-1.

c The vengeance factor. United (1-3-0, three points) wants a little payback for a 4-0 loss at Real Salt Lake (1-2-1, four points) on April 12, the Western Conference team’s largest margin of victory in team history.

“This will be a good game to erase everything that’s been happening and really start over new,” defender Marc Burch said.

Still, United is taking nothing for granted.

“We don’t want any surprises,” forward Jaime Moreno said. “We know they are coming here for a result. Maybe it will be a little payback for us, but we have to concentrate on our work.”

United sits at the bottom of the Eastern Conference standings and, along with the Los Angeles Galaxy, ranks worst in the league on defense after giving up nine goals in four games. The mantra all week has been “defending as a team,” especially after giving up two weak goals in a 2-1 loss to the Columbus Crew at RFK in the United’s last game on April 17.

“If we had defended well as a team, we could have won 1-0,” Moreno said. “I’m not picking on the defenders. If we defend well as a team, that wouldn’t happen.”

Defender Bryan Namoff, who scored United’s lone goal against the Crew, said defending ultimately begins with the attack.

“Our first pressure needs to come from the attackers, and when we don’t have pressure all over the field I think we have problems,” Namoff said. “The little breakdowns that occur can occur from that point, and then it will go through the midfield. Then, once it gets back to us, it might already be too late to solve.”

United’s poor record is similar to the one it posted at the beginning of last season, before it eventually earned the best mark in the league.

Burch said the new players, mostly from South America, just need time to get used to playing in MLS.

“We have a lot of new faces this year getting used to league play,” Burch said. “International tournaments were good for us but league play is a little different. I think everybody is getting that now.”

Bradley ill

Former George Mason coach Gordon Bradley, who used to do color commentary for United games, is suffering from Alzheimer’s disease and is under care at a hospice in Northern Virginia.

Bradley was a pioneer of soccer in America. He coached the New York Cosmos and the Washington Diplomats of the North American Soccer League, where he worked with Pele and Johan Cruyff, respectively.

Peace Queen Cup

In a warm-up tournament for the Beijing Olympics, the U.S. women’s team will play Australia, Italy and Brazil in Group B of the Peace Queen Cup in Suwon, South Korea, from June 14 to 21. In Group A, host South Korea will play North Korea, Argentina and Canada.

The U.S. women will face Norway, Japan and New Zealand at the Olympics in group play.

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