- The Washington Times - Sunday, March 30, 2008

KANSAS CITY, Kan. — D.C. United probably wishes it could replay the 61st minute of its MLS opener against the Kansas City Wizards last night.

United had a goal called off because of an offside call and then gave up a goal on the ensuing possession as it fell 2-0 at Community America Ballpark.

The loss marks the second straight year that United has fallen to the Wizards in the season opener. Last year Kansas City won 4-2 at RFK Stadium.

On a corner kick in the 61st minute, United had the ball to Gonzalo Peralta, who knocked in a shot but was called offsides.

As United tried to recover from the missed opportunity, Kansas City’s Claudio Lopez took a pass from Ryan Pore and went on a breakaway. Lopez, whom the Wizards acquired from Argentina, flipped the ball over goal keeper Zach Wells and scored Kansas City’s second goal of the night.

Lopez’s decision was easy once Wells came toward him.

“When I saw him come out, I knew I could get it over his head,” Lopez said.

The goal stopped any momentum United had. For the final 29 minutes, it didn’t muster anything offensively.

“It’s always big any time you think you are up one and then you give one back,” United coach Tom Soehn said. “It’s a two-goal swing and obviously disappointing.”

United had trouble stopping both of Kansas City’s newly acquired forwards. Ivan Trujillo, in his first game for the Wizards, scored the game’s first goal. Jack Jewsbury chipped a pass to Trujillo, who scored the goal in the 48th minute.

Both goals by the Latin American forwards proved big for Kansas City, but Lopez’s goal sealed United’s fate.

“That goal changed the whole dynamic of the game,” Santino Quaranta said. “We were pressing a little bit the last 15 minutes.”

The match was the first in Community America Ballpark. The venue typically is used for a minor league baseball but will house soccer while the Wizards build a soccer-specific stadium.

After beginning at a quick pace, both squads tried to find ways to take an early lead but remained scoreless in the first half.

United’s best opportunity to came in the 35th minute, when Luciano Emilio fired a shot directly at Kansas City’s goalkeeper Kevin Hartman. The shot was deflected up and into the stands.

“We wanted to win the match in the first 15 minutes it felt like,” Quaranta said. “We wanted to come out strong and win the match in the first half. The first 15 minutes of each half are crucial.”

Kansas City had a scoring chance in the fourth minute, but Carlos Marinelli missed high on a pass from Lopez.

The Wizards had one final opportunity to score in extra time of the first half. Gonzalo Martinez picked up a yellow card for fouling Lopez just outside the box. The Wizards, however, had their free kick deflected.

United has a short turnaround heading into its next match. It left directly from Kansas City for Mexico, where it will face Pachuca CF in the first leg of a semifinal in the CONCACAF Champions’ Cup.

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