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D.C. United outlasts the Dynamo 1-0

WASHINGTON, DC -- D.C. United nabbed their first win of the season with a close-run 1-0 result over Houston Dynamo at RFK Stadium on Saturday night, powered by a 47th-minute goal from Luciano Emilio and secured by a late rearguard action following Jaime Moreno's 71st-minute ejection.It wasn't particularly pretty, as both sides labored without fluency for long stretches. But United will not be the least bit concerned with style points as they secured a welcome three points following two consecutive draws in which they fumbled away second-half leads.D.C. coach Tom Soehn made one change from the lineup that faced Chicago a week prior, returning striker Jaime Moreno to the bench and handing Ange N'Silu his United debut alongside Luciano Emilio up top.Turning to run at Wade Barrett on the edge of the Houston 18-yard box in the 10th minute, N'Silu flashed a quick set of stepovers that allowed him to cross to Emilio near the penalty spot, but the Brazilian scuffed his first-time shot well wide.A few moments later Dynamo center back Bobby Boswell, making a return to the stadium where he began his career, nearly created a goal with a surprisingly enterprising run deep into the United half. The big defender surged forward to exchange passes with striker Brian Ching and center for Stuart Holden, but D.C.'s Clyde Simms had tracked back alertly and cleared the danger.Seventeen minutes in, D.C. right winger Chris Pontius cut inside and almost set up his roommate and fellow rookie Rodney Wallace with a deep, teasing cross to the far post, but Wallace's angle was too tight and his touch floated harmlessly above the goalmouth.Such scoring opportunities were all too few and far between in the early going, however, as both teams struggled to settle the ball and build sustained possession.Receiving a pass from left back Marc Burch just past the half-hour mark, Emilio tried his luck with a turn-and-shoot at the top of the Dynamo box but his drive was hit far too tamely to trouble the vastly experienced Pat Onstad, making his 170th MLS start in goal on this occasion.Burch was finding more space to get forward along the left flank and he soon delivered an excellent flighted cross into the danger area that was eagerly attacked by a hard-charging Pontius, but the rookie could not direct his header on target.The home side threatened one more time in the half's final seconds when Christian Gomez spotted N'Silu's smart diagonal run in the Houston area, but the no one in a black jersey was able to connect with the Congolese-born frontrunner's delivery as it rolled through the six-yard box.But in stark contrast to all the unrewarded toil of the first 45 minutes, it took mere moments for United to snatch the advantage after the halftime break.D.C. defender Bryan Namoff sent an angled long pass towards Emilio that looked hopeful at best -- until Boswell misjudged it, allowing the ball to bounce over him at the top of the box and hand Emilio a clear path to goal. Onstad charged off his line but the Brazilian got there first, dinking a soft chip over the 'keeper's head that the late-arriving Boswell could not stop from bouncing into the empty net for a 1-0 United lead.The Orange responded quickly and were inches away from notching a precious equalizer on a frenetic sequence that began with Davis' near-post corner kick delivery. With Ching lurking, Crayton dived headlong to punch it away, but the ball eventually fell to Ricardo Clark at the top of the box and his stinging volley looked bound for the back of the net, only to be blocked at the goal line by the raised right boot of Namoff.The sudden flurry of good fortune sparked United's supporters back to life, and their mood was further improved when Soehn brought two of their established heroes off the bench. Brazilian trickster Fred made his first appearance of the 2009 season, taking up residence on the right wing, and club legend Jaime Moreno entered in place of N'Silu shortly thereafter.But an uncharacteristically poor decision by the league's all-time scoring leader put him at the center of a stunning turn of events in the 71st minute. Moreno was beaten for pace by Brad Davis as the Houston midfielder dribbled across the midfield stripe, and just after Davis turned his gaze away to look for teammates, the Bolivian clipped him to the turf with a late sliding challenge.Referee Baldomero Toledo whistled the foul and raced in to brandish a red card at Moreno for tackling from behind, sentencing United to finish the match a man short. D.C.'s captain was astonished by the decision, but had to trudge off the field just six minutes after his entry.United settled in to protect their lead, something they'd been unable to do in their two previous draws against Los Angeles and Chicago. Soehn quickly took steps to bolster the defense, bringing on Greg Janicki and moving his side into a 4-4-1 with Janicki playing center back alongside Dejan Jakovic.Predictably, Houston took a stranglehold on possession and probed D.C.'s back line with a hail of crosses from the likes of Brian Mullan and second-half sub Corey Ashe, but by and large Crayton and his defenders ably dealt with the threat.Holden came the closest to finding the leveler when he blasted a low drive just inches wide of the left post in the 85th minute, then tested Crayton with a half-volley in the 90th. But the visitors were unable to find the goal they needed and the Black-and-Red greeted Toledo's final whistle with relief, having finally earned their first victory of 2009.Houston Dynamo (0-2-1) vs. D.C. United (1-0-2) April 04, 2009 -- RFK Stadium

Scoring Summary:
DC -- Luciano Emilio 2 (Bryan Namoff 1) 47Houston Dynamo -- Pat Onstad, Richard Mulrooney, Bobby Boswell, Geoff Cameron, Wade Barrett (Julius James 72), Brian Mullan, Ricardo Clark, Stuart Holden, Brad Davis, Brian Ching (Corey Ashe 67), Chris Wondolowski (Kei Kamara 46),Substitutes Not Used: Mike Chabala, Tally Hall, John Michael Hayden, Craig WaibelD.C. United -- Louis Crayton, Bryan Namoff, Dejan Jakovic, Marc Burch, Chris Pontius, Christian Gomez (Fred 57), Ben Olsen (Greg Janicki 79), Clyde Simms, Rodney Wallace, Luciano Emilio, Ange N'Silu (Jaime Moreno 65),Substitutes Not Used: Brandon Barklage, John DiRaimondo, Thabiso Khumalo, Milos KocicMisconduct Summary: HOU -- Wade Barrett (caution; Reckless Foul) 49DC -- Jaime Moreno (ejection; Violent Conduct) 71HOU -- Julius James (caution; Tactical Foul) 86Referee: Baldomero ToledoReferee's Assistants: Nate Clement; James Conlee4th official: Mark KadlecikTime of game: 1:50Attendance: 12,594Weather: Clear -and- 61 degrees