- The Washington Times - Sunday, July 19, 2009

Before Saturday’s contest against the Colorado Rapids, D.C. United defender Bryan Namoff had not scored in 17 games this season. He couldn’t have picked a better night to get on the scoreboard.

Namoff’s diving header off a corner kick in the 56th minute curled around the right post, breaking a tie and giving him redemption after an own goal early in the first half. United led for good after that, using three second-half goals to prevail 3-1 and remain unbeaten in nine matches at RFK Stadium this season.

“That’s the first time I scored two goals in my career,” Namoff said. “I needed to redeem myself, and I’m glad I had the opportunity to do so.”

It was United’s first MLS game in two weeks, and the victory snapped a three-game winless drought in league play. United also got revenge on the Rapids (6-5-6, 24 points) after losing to them 3-0 in June, its worst defeat of the year.

United (6-3-9, 27 points) had multiple chances to score in the opening minutes but wasn’t able to convert. Captain Ben Olsen’s shot was deflected high in the fourth minute, and Namoff’s header on the ensuing corner kick drifted left.

Forward Thabiso Khumalo squandered United’s best opportunity shortly thereafter, sneaking behind Colorado’s defense to get a loose ball that had scooted past two defenders, but his shot floated high and wide right.

After Chris Pontius couldn’t connect from long range in the 13th minute, the Rapids began to take control. They were the beneficiaries of Namoff’s own goal less than 60 seconds later and outshot United 3-0 in the middle third of the first half.

“It was a miscommunication,” Namoff said. “I let the ball roll past me. … I tried to flip the ball over and, unfortunately, I hit [it] on the outside of my foot.”

Despite controlling possession and posting a 9-4 shot advantage, United trailed 1-0 at halftime. The second half began on a much higher note.

Midfielder Christian Gomez was fouled in the box, setting up a penalty shot. Forward Jaime Moreno came off the bench to take it, and he found the top left corner to tie the score at 1-1 in the 47th minute. Namoff’s tally gave United the lead, and forward Luciano Emilio provided a two-goal cushion moments later when he finished off a series of quick passes from Fred and Gomez and caught Colorado goalie Matt Pickens out of the net.

“We got our chances, and we finished our chances in the second half,” said United goalie Josh Wicks, who improved to 3-2-5. “If we had finished our chances in the first half, there would have been a lot more goals on the board.”

Freedom prevail too - In the first game of the RFK doubleheader, the Washington Freedom halted a four-game winless streak by stifling the Saint Louis Athletica 1-0. Homare Sawa scored the game’s only goal in the 74th minute, helping Washington jump to fourth in the WPS standings.

Winners of its past three road matches, the second-place Athletica had been one of the hottest teams in the league. But Saint Louis was shut out for the second straight time against Washington, registering just one shot on goal and no corners in the second half.

Both squads were without their starting goalies; Saint Louis’ Hope Solo (United States) and Washington’s Erin McLeod (Canada) had commitments to play for their national teams. When the Freedom’s Kati Jo Spisak had to leave the game with a quad injury midway through the second half, goalkeeper coach Nicci Wright - who had signed a temporary contract for the game - played the last 26 minutes.

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