September 13, 2007
By David Driver
For the Deseret Morning News
Used with permission
WASHINGTON — Alecko Eskandarian, a striker for Real Salt Lake, used the words "crazy" and "bizarre" to describe his first game as a visiting player at RFK Stadium. Two other words that can be used are "road" and "loss."
Again. RSL, facing the best team in the league, turned in one of their best efforts of the season away from home Wednesday night, according to RSL coach Jason Kreis. But the result was a 2-1 setback to D.C. United before 14,655 fans in the nation's capital, as playoff hopes for RSL, now 4-13-6, continue to fade.
A header by Christian Gomez, with assists from Fred and Bobby Boswell, in the 73rd minute gave D.C. United the game-winning goal.
RSL has won just one road game this season and will fini s grueling four-game swing away from home at Toronto on Saturday.
"Tonight we showed we could play with the best team in the league," said Eskandarian, sitting with a dismayed look on his face in the back of the RSL locker room.
"I take the blame for not burying my penalty kick."
United goalie Troy Perkins made a save on the penalty kick by the former University of Virginia star in the 75th minute to preserve the 2-1 lead on a night the game time temperature was a pleasant 74 degrees.
"It is only frustrating because we felt like we deserved better," said Kreis. "It was probably one of our best games of the season."
D.C. United (15-6-4 and in first in the Eastern Conference) took a 1-0 lead in the 16th minute on a header by Luciano Emilio, on a cross from Gomez. The shot beat RSL goalie Nick Rimando and gave Emilio his league-leading 19th goal of the season. Kyle Beckerman, a RSL midfielder who grew up in nearby Crofton, Md., tied the game at 1-1 in the 32nd minute with a right-footed blast from about 25 yards straight away off an assist by Chris Wingert.
The United defense did not slow down Beckerman. It was the first goal for Beckerman in eight games this season with RSL, after he joined the team in July after starting the year with Colorado.
"It was a fantastic goal. I wanted him to shoot it," Kreis said. "To get his first goal for Real Salt Lake was really big."
"I got the ball and started dribbling. I think I caught Perkins off guard," said Beckerman, who played in front of his parents, brother and about 20 friends.
"I thought we played well, one of our better games on the road. D.C. is an easy team to get up for. It has been a tough year for everybody. We have to start winning games."
Perkins, a few minutes later, made a nice save on a shot by Eskandarian. In the closing minutes of the first half, Perkins made a diving save to his right that stopped a shot by Gomez. Seconds later, Rimando made a leaping save on a free kick by Gomez to keep the score tied at 1.
Rimando came up big again early in the first half, when he dove to his left to stop a penalty kick by Gomez. RSL dodged another bullet minutes later, when a goal by United was not allowed since the home side was offsides. But United eventually got the goal it needed for the win in a physical match involving players that know each other well.
"I think the refereeing was inconsistent on both sides," Kreis said.
But RSL is now 1-8-3 on the road this season.
NOTES: RSL defender Eddie Pope, a former United standout who did not play, was honored before the game. He was given a caricature of himself in action, and a video tribute included words from former United and U.S. national team coach Bruce Arena, among others.