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United battle back for win over Rapids

WASHINGTON -- It might now qualify as the most dependable tendency in Major League Soccer: When the Colorado Rapids meet D.C. United, the home side does not lose.United battled back from a disappointing first-half performance to knock off the Rapids 3-1 at RFK Stadium on Saturday night, running Colorado's streak of futility in the nation's capital to 10 years and 11 matches. After Bryan Namoff's 14th-minute own goal, Jaime Moreno came off the bench at halftime to inspire his listless mates to a three-goal comeback as the Bolivian netted a 47th-minute penalty kick before Namoff and Luciano Emilio sealed the result with well-crafted tallies of their own.With several absences due to injury and international duty, United head coach Tom Soehn brought star striker Emilio back into the first XI after several weeks out with a knee bruise alongside Chris Pontius up top, while Boyzzz Khumalo was handed a second consecutive league start on the right wing as Brazilian trickster Fred took up residence along the left.Khumalo was handed a golden opportunity to score the game's first goal just six minutes in when Pontius dummied a through ball into the Rapids penalty area, allowing the South African to sprint through a sudden gash in the midst of the visitors' back line. But Khumalo ballooned his shot high and wide of the top corner with Colorado goalkeeper Matt Pickens at his mercy.Rapids frontrunners Conor Casey and Omar Cummings troubled the United back line with their size and strength early on and Casey's power played a major role in the sequence that created his team's opener in the 15th minute.The U.S. international muscled past Greg Janicki to get his head on a booming long ball just outside the D.C. penalty area, forcing Bryan Namoff to scramble back towards his own goal. With Jacob Peterson breathing down his neck, the veteran right back produced an uncharacteristically poor touch, flicking the bouncing ball up and over goalkeeper Josh Wicks and into his own net. Suddenly up 1-0, the Rapids could hardly believe their luck but for Namoff, it was a nightmarish own goal.Casey broke free once more on a Colorado counterattack in the 22nd minute, leaving Janicki in his wake before cutting back on Marc Burch, but the big striker could not sneak his low shot inside the near post as Wicks saved.Unlike many visitors to RFK, Gary Smith's side were taking the fight to D.C., maintaining a high defensive line and pressuring the ball aggressively in midfield with Pablo Mastroeni particularly active. That approach clearly disrupted United's possession game as the Black-and-Red found themselves chased into corners and down dead ends with little fluidity on display over the first 45 minutes.Fred did serve up an excellent inswinging cross for Emilio to attack near the penalty spot in the 37th minute, but the Brazilian bounced a tame header right into Pickens' waiting arms.Looking to spark his team's sputtering attack, Soehn brought on Moreno in place of Khumalo for the second half -- and the Bolivian legend made an instant impact.Taking possession near midfield in the 47th minute and racing Julien Baudet down the left channel, Moreno slotted a gorgeous pass into the path of Christian Gomez's run into the box. When his marker, Mastroeni, impulsively reached out a hand to arrest his progress, Gomez immediately tumbled to the turf and referee Ricardo Salazar hustled in to whistle for a penalty kick.For the 41st time in his illustrious career, Moreno stepped up to the spot kick and made no mistake, rifling a firm finish past Pickens and into the top left corner to draw D.C. level at 1-1.Colorado was hit with another stinging blow shortly thereafter when Fred left his leg in on Cory Gibbs as the veteran center back made a clearance. The clumsy challenge left Gibbs writhing on the ground clutching his knee and eventually required him to make way for Ty Harden, but despite angry remonstrations from the Rapids, Salazar elected to not to produce a second yellow card for Fred.United would grab the lead in spectacular fashion on a 56th-minute corner kick as Namoff produced a sensational play to atone for his first-half error. Running hard to meet Gomez's curling delivery to the near post, Namoff looked a step too late as Casey got set to clear -- but the D.C. right back launched himself forward for a diving header that arrowed just inside the upright, bringing the RFK faithful to their feet.The tide had well and truly turned in favor of the hosts and they doubled their advantage on the hour mark on a play keyed by Gomez's pluckiness. Baudet had position on the Argentinean as he ushered a loose ball over the Rapids endline for a goal kick but Gomez refused to quit, stretching out to poke it back towards the goal where Fred held off Pickens and laid off to Emilio for an easy finish into the unguarded net.It was the second assist of the evening for Gomez, who surely savored taking such a pivotal role in beating the club that acquired him from D.C. in exchange last year, only to plant him on the bench after Smith's accession to head coach.Casey did what he could to keep the Rapids hopes alive late, firing another shot from a sharp angle that was labeled for the far post. But a diving Wicks extended well to get a hand on deflecting it away for another corner, and not long after United had guaranteed that a 20th consecutive game in the series where the visiting team could not win. United travel cross-country next weekend for a match against the San Jose Earthquakes on Saturday evening, while the Rapids return home to entertain the New York Red Bulls.Colorado Rapids (6-5-6) vs. D.C. United (6-3-9) July 18, 2009 -- RFK Stadium

Scoring Summary:
COL -- Own Goal (Bryan Namoff) 14DC -- Jaime Moreno 6 (penalty kick) 47DC -- Bryan Namoff 1 (Christian Gomez 2) 56DC -- Luciano Emilio 6 (Fred 4, Christian Gomez 3) 61Colorado Rapids -- Matt Pickens, Kosuke Kimura, Cory Gibbs (Ty Harden 51), Scott Palguta, Julien Baudet (Jordan Harvey 72), Jacob Peterson, Mehdi Ballouchy, Omar Cummings, Pablo Mastroeni, Greg Dalby (Pat Noonan 71), Conor Casey,Substitutes Not Used: Preston Burpo, Terry Cooke, Ross Schunk, Rob ValentinoD.C. United -- Josh Wicks, Bryan Namoff, Greg Janicki, Marc Burch, Chris Pontius, Christian Gomez, Ben Olsen, Clyde Simms (Devon McTavish 72), Fred (Rodney Wallace 68), Luciano Emilio, Thabiso Khumalo (Jaime Moreno 46),Substitutes Not Used: Andrew Jacobson, Avery John, Milos Kocic, Ange N'SiluMisconduct Summary:
DC -- Fred (caution; Tactical Foul) 29COL -- Pablo Mastroeni (caution; Dissent) 48COL -- Conor Casey (caution; Unsporting Behavior) 84Referee: Ricardo SalazarReferee's Assistants: George Gansner; Claudio Badea4th official: Andrew ChapinTime of game: 1:52attendance: 18,248Weather: Cloudy -and- 80 degreesAll statistics contained in this boxscore are unofficial