- The Washington Times - Sunday, May 4, 2008

When D.C. United meets Colorado today, an old friend will be waiting. The game will mark the first time Rapids midfielder Christian Gomez will face his former team since he left United in February.

“It will be nice to see him, but not nice to see him on the other side of the field,” United striker Jaime Moreno said.

Gomez, 33, put in more than three years of excellent play with United, helping the team win the 2004 MLS Cup and earning league MVP honors in 2006 when he had 14 goals and 11 assists.

“Christian was a big part of our success here, so we know what his strengths are,” United coach Tom Soehn said. “We know how to close him down, but having said that, he’s still a guy who can hurt you on set-pieces and in so many other ways.”

Gomez may want a little payback since United let him go rather than give him a raise after he totaled 39 goals and 29 assists in 97 games.

“Anytime you play against an old team you always have a little extra,” Soehn said. “I expect that, and it’s normal. I did it when I played.”

The Argentine playmaker scored 10 goals last season, earning $218,500. The team said it wanted to keep him.

But United signed Marcelo Gallardo, and contract talks between United and Gomez broke down. United then traded Gomez to Colorado, where he will earn $430,000, the ninth-highest salary in the league.

“I would believe if you looked at D.C. United and us — they got Gallardo and we have Christian Gomez,” Rapids coach Fernando Clavijo told the Rocky Mountain News this week. “I’ll take Christian Gomez any time.”

United defender Bryan Namoff said: “He will want to do his absolute best against his former team and try for some redemption. We need to get him out of his game by being a lot more physical and not giving him any chances on the ball.”

Gomez’s transition to Colorado (2-3-0, six points) has not been easy. His wife and 11-year-old twin daughters still live in the D.C. area and will join him once he buys a house.

Gomez scored a goal from the penalty spot in the Rapids opening game — a 4-0 win over the Los Angeles Galaxy — and had an assist in a 2-1 loss at Chicago last week.

United is 0-3-1 on the road this year in all games.

“When you play on the road, your mentality has to be different,” Soehn said. “You have to be a little bit more conservative and not get broken down because when you play on the road, teams always have a bit more energy than they normally would.”

Going into today’s game, United (2-3-0, six points) is last in the Eastern Conference. With traditionally weaker teams in the East, like the Columbus Crew and Toronto FC, playing better, United could use a win.

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