- The Washington Times - Thursday, September 24, 2009

Just when it looked like D.C. United was headed for another winless showing in the CONCACAF Champions League, it got some hope with a victory last week and CD Marathon’s blowout loss.

Well-rested and with renewed confidence, United is ready to make a statement Thursday when it takes on Marathon at RFK Stadium.

United (1-2, three points) can take the No. 2 spot in Group B with two games left if it defeats Marathon (2-1, six points) by at least two goals.

“What it looks like is that it will come down to us or Marathon,” United coach Tom Soehn said. “I think Toluca has put themselves in a spot where they are home free, and now we have to take care of business against Marathon because that’s who we are looking at next. We need the result, and we have to score some goals.”

United, which hasn’t played since beating San Juan Jabloteh 1-0 on Sept. 15, benefited from first-place Toluca’s 7-0 rout of Marathon two days later. Winning by two goals Thursday is important because the first tiebreaker is head-to-head competition, and United lost 3-1 to Marathon in the first meeting.

“There’s a good chance that this game decides who comes out of the group,” Soehn said.

The top two teams in the group advance to the quarterfinals early next year.

With United needing goals, Soehn will send out an offensive-minded team, with players like Jaime Moreno, Luciano Emilio, Chris Pontius, Santino Quaranta and Fred expected to see plenty of playing time. Quaranta (quadriceps strain), Fred (calf contusion) and forward Thabiso Khumalo (broken radius) are all listed as probable for the game.

“It gives you more freedom to go out and attack and play the type of soccer the fans like to see,” Quaranta said. “If we can go out and put on a good performance and score a couple of goals it will help us in our own league play.”

United was unlucky not to come away with any points at Marathon last month. The team played well, but a number of huge defensive errors gave Marathon the win.

“We’ll have to be big up front, and being at home also helps us now,” defender Julius James said.

Marathon will be missing its most-potent striker, Jerry Palacios, who is serving a red-card suspension. Meantime, United will be without midfielder Christian Gomez, who is suspended because of an accumulation of yellow cards, and defender Bryan Namoff, who is out with a concussion. Key defender Dejan Jakovic (hernia) is back in training and listed as probable for the game.

Note - Because of the political upheaval in Honduras and the closure of international airports, Marathon had to drive eight hours on a bus to Guatemala to get a flight to the United States.

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