- The Washington Times - Sunday, September 13, 2009

D.C. United midfielder Ben Olsen fought all Saturday night to keep the midfield intact, all the while keeping tabs on Seattle Sounders FC striker Fredy Montero.

Just after Olsen was taken out of the game, though, the Colombian scored the winner in the 84th minute of a 2-1 victory at RFK Stadium, United’s first home loss in MLS play this season.

The outcome ended United’s hopes of earning maximum points from a rare five-game homestand, which began last week with a victory against Kansas City. It also hurt its pursuit of a playoff berth; the victory gave Seattle 37 points, allowing the Sounders to leapfrog United (36).

“They came to our house and they beat us twice,” said forward Jaime Moreno, referring to the Sounders’ U.S. Open Cup championship victory earlier this month. “At this point, we can’t keep making mistakes - from the forwards to the backs. We can’t afford to lose any more points at home.”

United found holes in the Sounders’ back line and controlled much of the play in the second half. But then the team made two changes, pulling off Olsen and Moreno and sending on Christian Gomez and Andrew Jacobson.

No sooner had the switches been made than Seattle took the lead. Montero, free of Olsen’s marking, took a shot that deflected off defender Julius James and went into the upper corner of the net.

“We broke down one time, and they punished us,” coach Tom Soehn said.

Seattle took a 1-0 lead in the fourth minute on a stunning goal. Peter Vagenas split United’s defense with a perfect 50-yard pass into the path of Steve Zakuani on the left flank. The rookie of the year candidate beat defender Bryan Namoff in a footrace, then slotted the ball through the legs of goalie Josh Wicks for his fourth tally.

“I was a little late getting to the ball,” Wicks said. “And when I got there, I should have gone down.”

United could get little going offensively in the first half, and Olsen had his hands full trying to stifle Montero. Fred had little impact on the right flank, and United’s leading scorer, Luciano Emilio, had difficulty breaking free of Colombian defender Jhon Kennedy Hurtado.

“In the first half, we killed plays off by being too cute in the final third, and we gave them counterattacks,” Soehn said. “We adjusted at the half, and I thought the energy we opened up the game with was pretty good.”

Forward Chris Pontius replaced Fred in the 54th minute. A minute later, United tied the score on a fine effort from Rodney Wallace. The rookie midfielder ran at the defense and laid off a pass to Emilio. Seattle defender James Riley tackled the Brazilian but inadvertently sent the ball back to Wallace, who fired a shot past goalie Kasey Keller for his third goal of the season.

Note - Former United great Raul Diaz Arce was honored at halftime and inducted into the club’s Hall of Tradition.

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