- The Washington Times - Sunday, September 14, 2008

When FC Dallas striker Kenny Cooper punished D.C. United in the ninth minute with stunning individual effort it looked daunting for the home team. Before Saturday night’s game Dallas had only lost once in 25 games when their star forward notched a goal.

United tried not to let Cooper rile them, but in the end settled for a 2-2 tie at RFK Stadium. United took a first-half lead on goals from Jaime Moreno and Santino Quaranta, but Andre Rocha’s late goal denied them two out of three points.

With the tie United (10-11-3, 33 points) dropped to fifth place in the Eastern Conference behind the New York Red Bulls, who beat Real Salt Lake 2-1.

“It’s very disappointing especially with how tight the race is,” said United coach Tom Soehn, whose team is struggling with injuries. “It’s been hard on my guys because I keep talking about consistency and you can see the lineups that we have to keep putting out there is far from being consistent.”

Luckily for United, Cooper left the field early in the second half with an ankle sprain. Dallas got off to an ideal start on Cooper’s early goal. Cooper controlled the ball at the top of the 18-year-box and with a quick swivel of his hips shook off United defender Bryan Namoff and fired a blistering shot past United goalie Louis Crayton.

“It wasn’t the best performance by me, but I’m just glad my teammates really picked it up and persevered from a one-goal deficit, but a couple of mistakes near the end cost us,” Namoff said.

Cooper has 14 goals, which ranks second to league leader Landon Donovan’s 16.

United’s new signing, Thabiso “Boyzz” Khumalo, who joined club on Friday, was given his first start. The South African set up United’s equalizer in the 26th minute with a cross from the right, which Moreno headed past Dallas goalie Dario Sala from 12 yards out for his 10th goal of the year.

After the break United midfielder Fred came off the bench and almost scored with his first touch.

United took the lead in the 69th minute when Quaranta finished off a cross from Ivan Guerrero, shooting low from six yards out.

“It’s frustrating because we were 10 minutes away from getting three points and we needed three points tonight,” Quaranta said. “These little letdowns and mistakes are killing us. We deserved the point I guess, but we still had chances to win.”

Crayton preserved United’s lead by pulling off a number of big saves, but Dallas got back into the game when Rocha beat Crayton with a low shot in the 79th minute.

United has not won in three games.

- Quavas Kirk made his first start for United playing on the left flank. …

United now looks to Tuesday’s CONCACAF Champions’ League game against Costa Rican champion Saprissa at RFK.

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