- The Washington Times - Saturday, May 2, 2009

He’s fit and suddenly dangerous. Santino Quaranta is just about where he wants to be after finally shaking off a preseason hamstring injury.

The D.C. United forward made his first start Sunday at New York and set up two goals in a dramatic 3-2 win.

“I’m pretty confident right now,” Quaranta said after practice Friday. “I was put in the situation where I was on the outside looking in when I came back from the injury. Guys were doing well, and I knew that once I got back on the field, I had to make plays and be a game-changer.”

The Baltimore native has done just that. He was involved in both of United’s goals in a 2-0 U.S. Open Cup win against FC Dallas 10 days ago. Then, with two pinpoint passes, he set up Rodney Wallace’s go-ahead goal and Luciano Emilio’s late equalizer against the Red Bulls.

“He was disappointed not to start out the season due to his injury, but he was equally hungry to come back,” coach Tom Soehn said.

Quaranta said he expects to start Saturday when FC Dallas returns to RFK Stadium in MLS play.

“Tommy has rewarded the guys that have done well, and that’s all you can ask of a coach,” Quaranta said.

Starting Saturday, United will play three games in eight days. The club visits Kansas City on Wednesday and welcomes Toronto FC to RFK on May 9.

“Our depth is going to go a long way this stretch,” Soehn said.

United is almost healthy, with just Jaime Moreno (heel) listed as probable. Fred missed the past two days of training because of family matters but should be available.

Dallas arrives following a 2-0 loss at Chivas USA. The team is led by Kenny Cooper, who has four goals in six games and leads the league in shots (28) and shots on goals (17).

Hamm back in town - Plenty of her former teammates, now in their late 30s, are still playing soccer, but don’t expect former national team star and Washington Freedom ace Mia Hamm to return to the pitch.

“I wanted to start a family,” said Hamm, who is married to Nomar Garciaparra of the Oakland Athletics and has her hands full with twin girls, Ava and Grace. “It would take a lot to come back, and I have no desire to.”

Hamm said she was happy to see some of her old teammates - Kristine Lilly, Tiffeny Milbrett, Brandi Chastain and Briana Scurry - playing in Women’s Professional Soccer.

“It’s good to see some of the old guard still playing and out on the field,” Hamm said.

Hamm and former Freedom goalie Siri Mullinix will be inducted into the “Hall of Freedom” in a halftime ceremony Sunday when the Freedom take on Saint Louis Athletica at the Maryland SoccerPlex.

So what does Hamm miss most now that she has retired?

“I miss being able to hang out with my friends,” Hamm said. “I grew up with a lot of those players. I miss that competitive environment. I miss that accountability every single day of doing the work. It’s pretty clear-cut when I could have done things better and when I did things well.”

Hamm won four college titles at North Carolina and, with the national team, two Olympic Gold medals and two World Cups. She has high praise for Freedom’s star striker, Abby Wambach, who scored two goals, including the winner, Sunday against FC Gol.

“Abby works so hard on the field and in practice,” Hamm said. “She takes so much responsibility and feels she can improve every day.”

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