- The Washington Times - Thursday, October 1, 2009

Following two consecutive defeats at home in league play - which put the club’s playoff hopes in jeopardy - D.C. United was in need of some cheer.

The club got the boost it needed from an inspired Christian Gomez, who used Wednesday night’s CONCACAF Champions League game to boost his team’s lagging confidence. The Argentine playmaker scored two goals and added an assist in a 5-1 romp over San Juan Jabloteh at RFK Stadium.

“Our mentality coming off a dramatic loss [2-1 to last-place San Jose] was pretty good,” coach Tom Soehn said. “We knew what we were getting into and how we thought we could break them down, and we did a good job of exposing their weak side and getting after them.”

Announced attendance was 3,411, the smallest crowd to see United play at the venue in nine years.

The win put United (3-2, nine points) in an excellent position to advance to the quarterfinals in the spring with one game left in group play. If Mexican club Toluca (4-0, 12 points) beats Honduran team CD Marathon (2-2, six points) on Thursday, United will advance to the knockout round of this event for the first time.

Thabiso Khumalo scored two goals and Fred added a goal and an assist against the club from Trinidad and Tobago.

United took the lead in the 13th minute. Fred fed the ball to Rodney Wallace on the left flank. The rookie sent a low cross in front of the goal. The pass deflected and reached Gomez, who fired into the net from six yards past San Juan keeper Cleon John.

“The system we play is for [Gomez] to find the ball a lot and get touches,” Soehn said. “We are a better team when he is on the ball.”

United made it 2-0 in the 30th minute when Fred took a Chris Pontius pass and from the top-left corner of the six-yard box placed a low shot past the outstretched John.

Khumalo, making his first start since suffering a wrist injury May 20, scored United’s third goal two minutes before the break. Gomez did all the hard work on the goal, turning a defender the wrong way before passing to Khumalo, who easily scored from a few yards out.

“Overall I think it was a good team performance,” Gomez said. “We controlled the ball well in the midfield, we were able to counter-attack on them and we found a team tonight that wasn’t the best opponent. It was a good win for us.”

It was all one-way traffic in the first half with the visitors failing to register a shot on goal. After the break Jabloteh showed more bite, and rookie goalie Milos Kocic, in the nets for the injured Josh Wicks, made two big saves.

Gomez scored his second goal in the 68th minute, taking another fine pass from Wallace on the left flank to score on a 12-yard blast.

Kocic had his shutout ruined when a breakdown allowed Jerrel Britto to net a consolation goal with seven minutes to go. In the final minute, Khumalo scored a lovely goal with a shot from 23 yards.

Danny Szetela made a rare appearance for United, replacing midfielder Clyde Simms in the 57th minute.

Note - Jeff Cunningam’s 71st-minute header gave FC Dallas a 1-0 victory over the New England Revolution in MLS play in Dallas. With the loss, the Revolution remained one point ahead of D.C. United for the final playoff spot. New England has four games remaining in the league season; United has three.

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