- The Washington Times - Friday, September 25, 2009

It took a little time, but an energized D.C. United found a way to convert chances and down road-weary Honduran club CD Marathon 3-0 in a critical CONCACAF Champions League game at RFK Stadium on Thursday night.

United striker Luciano Emilio scored two goals, and Jaime Moreno added a goal before being ejected late. With two games left to play in the event, United is in position to advance to the quarterfinal round of the tournament for the first time.

With airports closed in their country amid political upheaval, the Hondurans didn’t arrive in the District until 20 hours before Thursday’s game.

“Without taking anything away from D.C. United, Marathon could only play 45 minutes tonight,” Marathon coach Manuel Keosseian said. “We didn’t have any energy left. … The players got to bed at 3 a.m. this morning.”

United (2-2, six points) is tied for the second spot in Group B, but more important, the shutout gives United the tiebreaker over Marathon (2-2, six points) should the teams be tied in points at the end of group play. Marathon previously beat United 3-1.

“There was a little more energy from our guys,” United coach Tom Soehn said. “It still wasn’t perfect, but it was more of a complete performance than we have had in a while. We created a lot of opportunities, and it was good to see [Emilio] get on the board and do it again. It’s always important for a striker to get the confidence in scoring.”

The night did not start well for Emilio, who missed a perfect chance to earn the lead in the sixth minute after Chris Pontius had headed the ball into his path on the 6-yard line. The Brazilian sliced the ball wide.

United goalie Josh Wicks pulled off a fine save to stop a long-range shot by Carlos Mejia.

Emilio then had three good chances to make up for his earlier miss but could not find the back of the net. United’s high-paid designated player even elicited boos from the home fans after he blasted a free kick high over the crossbar.

Two minutes after the break Emilio won back the cheers, converting a fine cross from defender Avery John with a header from eight yards out to give United the lead.

“Every forward has pressure to score goals, and it was difficult for me because I missed two or three opportunities,” Emilio said. “I would like to say thank you for Tommy for his confidence in me. He could have taken me out after the first 45 minutes.”

In the 55th minute United earned its second strike. With his back to the goal, Santino Quaranta fed Moreno the ball, and the Bolivian striker toe-poked a shot low inside the right post. Moreno had entered just before the interval to replace Tiyiselani Shipalane, who made his first start.

Emilio iced the game in the 71st minute when he ran onto a through pass from Ben Olsen. The striker beat a defender in a footrace and placed the ball with a low shot to the right of the onrushing goalie.

Moreno was ejected in the 90th minute after two quick yellow cards, one for a foul and the other for dissent.

Dejan Jakovic, who had been out for three weeks following surgery for a sports hernia, came off the bench to play the last 15 minutes. Right-side defender Lawson Vaughn made his United debut, filling in for the injured Bryan Namoff, and was replaced in the 70th minute by Devon McTavish.

In its last two games in the tournament, United is at home against San Juan Jabloteh on Wednesday followed by a tough trip to Toluca in Mexico on Oct. 20.

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