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D.C. United embraces spoiler role, deals blow to Fusion playoff hopes 2-1.

By Gary Davidson

WASHINGTON, D.C. (Saturday, August 26, 2000) -- Itís hard to imagine D.C. United in the role of spoiler, but consider the defending Major League Soccer champion 1-0 in its new capacity.

A participant in all four MLS Cups and a winner of three, United was mathematically eliminated from the 2000 playoff picture last weekend. Tonight, the host club did serious damage to the Miami Fusionís fragile playoff hopes with a 2-1 overtime triumph before 12,306 at RFK Stadium.

Obviously, the win is bittersweet in that it really mean much in the standings, but it means a lot in our preparation for the future," said United coach Thomas Rongen, whose side played without star Bolivians Marco Etcheverry and Jaime Moreno who were with their national team for World Cup qualifying. "The way we came back after giving up a very early goal speaks volumes about the character this team has.

Defensive breakdowns were directly responsible for Pete Marinoís tying goal midway through the second half and Raul Diaz Arceís winner four minutes into sudden death.

"A huge, disappointing loss," Fusion coach Ray Hudson said. "Missed opportunities will kill you every time. I thought we should have put the game away in the first half. If we got the second goal, we would have buried them."

Miami (10-13-5, 35 points) remained in 10th place, but lost ground to the New England Revolution (11-11-6, 38 points), which pulled into a seventh place tie with Columbus (11-12-5) after defeating the Crew 2-1, and ninth-place Colorado (11-14-4, 37 points), which tied the Kansas City Wizards 1-1. The top eight teams advance to the postseason.

With the first of two five-minute sudden death period winding down, United midfielder Bobby Convey tried to thread a long ball to Raul Diaz Arce. Fusion defender Tyrone Marshall shield the United striker off the ball, expecting goalkeeper Nick Rimando to pick it up in the penalty area. Instead, Rimando came out of the box two yards and blasted a ball that hit Marshall in the shoulder and squirted to the keeperís left, right to Diaz Arceís feet.

"A huge, disappointing loss, missed opportunities will kill you every time."
-- Miami Fusion coach Ray Hudson
The veteran, who is leagueís second leading career goal scorer to Miamiís Roy Lassiter, had little difficulty depositing the winner 20 yards into the unguarded net as defender Ivan McKinley futilely tried to catch up with it at the goal line.

"When the ball came through, I knew I beat Diaz Arce to the ball," Marshall said. "I saw Nick coming. I knew he had the ball, so I was shielding off (Diaz Arce) so he could pick up the ball. But for some reason I donít know what happened, (Rimando) was telling me after, he was telling me to clear. He had turned to pick up the ball, so I was waiting for him to pick the ball up. If that was the case, I would have cleared the ball a long time ago.

"He tried to clear it himself and the ball hit me square in the arm, and for some reason the ball ended up where Diaz Arce was and he slotted it home . . . Itís an awkward play. Nickís a good player. That play doesnít define what heís capable of. Itís just one of those things that happen. We miscommunicated. I think learned from it. Both of us will learn from it, actually. I think in that situation, I should have been the wiser one."

Rimando said he thought Diaz Arce would catch up to the ball before it crossed into the box. "I was at the top of my box. Itís just a miscommunication," said the rookie goalkeeper who displaced veteran Jeff Cassar. Marshall "wants to kick the ball. I want to get the ball. Diaz Arce was right on his back.

With Miami up 1-0, United forward A.J. Wood collected McKinleyís clear and shot from more than 30 yards out. The ball was clearly going well wide of the left post and Rimando was playing it for a goal kick when defender Jay Keeps came across and attempted to blast it away. The ball squirted into the middle of the box where Marino roofed his shot from eight yards.

"I just went to go clear it. I didnít know if the guy was coming through or what," Heaps said. "It kind of ricocheted, took a bad bounce and (Marino) was in the right spot. I wasnít sure if someone was behind me. I thought maybe there was a guy streaming in behind. I didnít even think about it. Looking back now, I should have just let it go, I guess."

Miami couldnít have gotten off to a better start, with striker Roy Lassiter netting his fifth goal in six games 37 seconds in, the fasted tally in Fusion history and fifth quickest ever in MLS.

Midfielder Henry Gutierrez lofted a long ball from the left flank past the far post into the box to midfielder Martin Machon. His centering pass redirected off the head of defender Jeff Agoos directly into the path of Lassiter, who went to his knees to head home a three-yard shot at the left post.

"Thatís my job, Iím supposed to do that," said Lassiter, who tied Diego Serna for the team lead with eight goals. "Youíve got to do that to win the game. We should have won the game today. Thatís the bottom line."

D.C. United 2, Miami Fusion 1 (OT)

Lineups: Miami - Nick Rimando, Tim Sahaydak, Ivan McKinley, Tyrone Marshall, Jay Heaps, Pablo Mastroeni, Jim Rooney, Martin Machon, Henry Gutierrez (Brian Kamler 69), Andy Williams (Welton 76), Roy Lassiter. D.C. United - Tom Presthus (Mark Simpson 46), Geoff Aunger (Carey Talley 66), Eddie Pope, Carlos Llamosa, Jeff Agoos, Richie Williams (Pete Marino 66), Bobby Convey, Eric Denton, Antonio Otero (Judah Cooks 91), A.J. Wood, Raul Diaz Arce.

Miami - Lassiter (Machon, Gutierrez) 1;
D.C. United - Marino (unassisted) 74;
D.C. United - Diaz Arce (unassisted) 94.

Total shots: Miami 9 (Lassiter 3), D.C. United 16 (Wood 4, Diaz Arce 4). Shots on goal: Miami 3 (Lassiter 2), D.C. United 8 (Wood 3). Saves: Miami - Rimando 5, D.C. United - 2 (Presthus 1, Simpson 1). Fouls: Miami 17 (Mastroeni 4), D.C. United 15 (Williams 4, Pope 4). Offside: Miami 7, D.C. United 5. Corner kicks: Miami 6, D.C. United 8. Yellow card cautions: Miami - Machon 24; D.C. United - Agoos 59, Convey 72. Possession percentage: Miami 45%, D.C. United 55%.

Referee: Tim Weyland. Referee's assistants: Albert Echeverria, Bill Dittmar. Attendance: 12,306 at RFK Stadium in Washington, D.C. Weather: Clear.

New England 2, Columbus 1

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. - The New England Revolution vaulted back into playoff contention Saturday night, using striker Wolde Harrisí 15th goal for a 2-1 victory over the Columbus Crew before 17,687 at Foxboro Stadium.

With the win, the Revolution (11-11-6, 39 points) vaulted over the Crew (11-12-5, 38 points) into seventh place in the standings.

Harris tied an MLS record in the game, netting his seventh goal in seven games, equaling Raul Diaz Arce's 1997 mark.

In the 51st minute of the game, Harris received the ball from William Sunsing and dribbled into the right side of the box. Harris' quick shot from just inside the penalty area beat keeper Mark Dougherty for a 2-1 lead.

The teams traded penalty kicks in the first half. Brian McBride scored for Columbus, and Imad Baba scored for New England.

New England Revolution 2, Columbus Crew 1

Lineups: Columbus - Mark Dougherty, Mike Clark, Mike Lapper, Todd Yeagley (Miles Joseph 81), Miroslaw Rzepa (Mario Gori 74), John Wilmar Perez, Ansil Elcock, Jason Farrell (Brian West 70), Jeff Cunningham, Brian McBride, Dante Washington. New England - Juergen Sommer, Rusty Pierce, Mauricio Wright, Adam Eyre, Ted Chronopoulos, John Harkes, Joe Franchino, Leonel Alvarez, Imad Baba, Wolde Harris (Jamar Beasley 81), William Sunsing (Carlos Parra 90).

Columbus - McBride (penalty kick) 20.
New England - Baba (penalty kick) 35.
New England - Harris (Sunsing, Baba) 51.

Total shots: Columbus 10 (McBride 3), New England 13 (Sunsing 5). Shots on goal: Columbus 5 (McBride 2), New England 4 (Baba 2, Harris 2). Saves: Columbus - Dougherty 2, New England - Sommer 3. Fouls: Columbus 15 (Lapper 3), New England 22 (four players with 3). Offside: Columbus 5, New England 2. Corner kicks: Columbus 4, New England 4. Yellow card cautions: Columbus - Cunningham 44, Clark 47+, Lapper 56, Gori 75; New England - Sunsing 39, Baba 58, Franchino 62, Eyre 70. Possession percentage: Columbus 46, New England 54.

Referee: Rich Grady. Referee's assistants: John Konstantinidis, Roger Sill. Attendance: 17,867 at Foxboro Stadium in Foxborough, Mass. Weather: Sunny, cool.

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