- The Washington Times - Saturday, May 24, 2008

As they prepare for tonight’s game against Toronto FC, D.C. United’s players are rallying around embattled coach Tom Soehn.

“It’s not just Tommy’s fault,” said captain Jaime Moreno, who has played under all five of United’s coaches. “It’s everyone’s fault. He makes the decisions, but at the end of the day the players are the ones who step on the field. … We told him we support him, and we believe in him.”

Tonight’s game at RFK Stadium is an important one for the team and for Soehn, who is at a challenging point in his coaching career.

United (2-7, six points) is off to the worst start in team history and in danger of missing the playoffs, which is made even more difficult because the Eastern Conference is so strong this season. It is 13 points behind Columbus and 10 behind Chicago and New England.

“I think he [Soehn] is doing a good job,” midfielder Marcelo Gallardo said. “I think we are all doing a good job as a team. It’s just when you start losing and go through a rough patch, people try and find someone to blame.”

Soehn won the Supporters Shield for the best regular-season record in his first season as coach. Nine games into this season, United has the worst record in the league and a four-game losing streak.

“We are a close group, even though we’ve been through some turbulent times,” Soehn said. “As far as results, we’ve stuck together and that’s the only way we can do it. Two things can happen: a team can self-destruct or pull together.”

United has never fired a coach in midseason, but the team is now under owners who are involved in the day-to-day operations of the team and have spent big money on players.

FC Dallas fired its coach, Steve Morrow, on Tuesday after its started the season 2-3-3 (nine points).

United has struggled early in previous seasons, but this year has been particularly difficult.

“It’s different because I don’t think we were this bad,” Moreno added.

But the players say they did some positive things in Wednesday’s 1-0 loss at Toronto FC.

“We’re coming off a loss, but we are also coming off a good performance,” defender Bryan Namoff said.

Meanwhile, Soehn is handling the pressure.

“I’m blessed to have so much to come home to and that keeps me going,” he added.

McTavish-Dichio matchup - United defender Devon McTavish has a chance to redeem himself tonight, after allowing Toronto’s 6-foot-3, 209-pound forward Danny Dichio to score the game’s only goal Wednesday.

“My feet weren’t necessarily underneath me for the first 85 minutes of the game, and then I got pulled in the 86th,” said McTavish, who played his first game in five weeks after returning from an injury.

McTavish failed to make a simple clearance on the wet artificial turf, and Dichio was able to hustle his way past McTavish and tap the ball across the line.

“[Dichio] doesn’t really know where all of his limbs are going all the time because he is so big, and that kind of stuff gets on your nerves a bit,” McTavish said.

Adu makes team - Former D.C. United midfielder Freddy Adu was named to the U.S. team’s 22-man roster for the game against David Beckham and England at Wembley Stadium on Wednesday night.

The team’s all-time leading goal scorer, Landon Donovan (35 goals) is set to play his 100th game for Team USA.


Drew Hansen ranks the MLS from top to bottom:

1. Columbus Crew (6-1-1) — Call them the San Antonio Spurs of MLS. The Crew don’t always do it beautifully, but they’re efficient and know how to win games.

2. Chicago Fire (5-2-1) — Cuauhtemoc Blanco is doing just about everything these days — scoring, providing excellent service, reffing games on his own and throwing strikes at Wrigley Field. The league’s best defense, however, is what makes the Fire tick.

3. New England Revolution (5-3-1) — The team weathered a rash of early season injuries and managed to stay in the top half of the table. Striker Taylor Twellman scored in season debut but then missed the Revolution’s win over San Jose.

4. Toronto FC (4-2-2) — It’s official: Toronto has the best homefield advantage in the league, having surrendered just one goal at home all season.

5. Colorado Rapids (4-4-0) — Midfielder Christian Gomez has the Rapids on top of a weak Western Conference. The team does take a big hit in losing goalkeeper Bouna Coundoul to the Senegalese national team for a month.

6. Los Angeles Galaxy (3-3-2) — Journeyman Edson Buddle scores a hat trick against Dallas. Maybe there’s more to the Galaxy than Landon Donovan and David Beckham? It will be interesting to see how the Galaxy perform when their dynamic duo is away on international duty.

7. New York Red Bulls (3-1-3) — The Bulls showed some resiliency by forcing a tie against Kansas City after a going a man down and extended their unbeaten streak to five matches.

8. Kansas City Wizards (3-3-2) — The team has not won in a month and has lost some scoring punch.

9. Houston Dynamo (2-3-4) — Bobby Boswell delivered a game-winning goal late against Chicago, but Thursday’s loss to San Jose shows this team still has some kinks to work out.

10. FC Dallas (2-3-3) — Defensive woes have this team reeling after coach Steve Morrow’s firing.

11. Real Salt Lake (2-4-2) — The team seems content acquiring draft picks via trades and looking toward the future.

12. Chivas USA (2-4-2) — Injuries have been a problem, but Chivas showed they can work around it.

13. San Jose Earthquakes (2-5-1) — Thursday’s win over Houston was the team’s first home win of the season.

14. D.C. United (2-7-0) — Coach Tom Soehn can’t get this team in gear and finds himself firmly planted on the hot seat. It’s bad news when an expansion team (San Jose) has the edge on points.



Needing one final penalty kick in a shootout to claim the UEFA Champions League title, the Chelsea captain slipped on the wet ground in his run-up and knocked his attempt off the right post. Manchester United went on to win in the next round of kicks and Terry, known as one of the sport’s most reliable players, saw his sturdy reputation tarnished.


New England Revolution AT Columbus Crew Today, 7:30 P.M. FSC

The Revolution, winners of three straight Eastern Conference titles, face the current league leaders.

United States AT England Wednesday, 3 P.M. ESPN CLASSIC

L.A. Galaxy teammates David Beckham and Landon Donovan will oppose each other in a friendly at Wembley Stadium.

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