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Emilio's goal enough as DC tops KC

WASHINGTON -- Efficiency was the watchword at RFK Stadium on Wednesday night as D.C. United rode a composed team performance - and a welcome dose of good fortune - to a 1-0 win against the Kansas City Wizards on a delightful fall evening in the nation's capital.Though the Wizards were the better side in the first half and created their share of dangerous moments around the United goal, in the end the Black-and-Red did just enough to make Luciano Emilio's opportunistic strike stand up to earn a vital victory.United made a host of changes to the lineup that drew 2-2 with Dallas over the weekend. Head coach Tom Soehn brought Rodney Wallace (left back) and Devon McTavish (center back) into a four-man defensive corps while Clyde Simms returned to his normal holding midfield role behind playmaker Christian Gomez and Chris Pontius roamed the left wing opposite Santino Quaranta.The visitors tested D.C. goalkeeper Josh Wicks in the game's opening minutes when Claudio Lopez broke free behind defender Bryan Namoff and crossed for Davy Arnaud at the near post. Kansas City's lanky frontrunner was denied by Wicks' sharp reaction save, however.United carved out a great chance after Christian Gomez sent a dipping free kick delivery into the box in the 23rd minute, drawing an unconvincing punch from Wizards 'keeper Kevin Hartman that allowed Wallace to lift a centering pass to the top of the 6-yard box for Jaime Moreno. The Bolivian snapped an excellent looping header over Hartman, only to watch it carom off the crossbar and away from the net. K.C. defender Jonathan Leathers nearly caught United napping with a surging run out of the back and Wicks spilled his dipping shot right into the path of Jack Jewsbury before Namoff dashed over to clear in the nick of time.Leathers got the nod over Lance Watson at right back in the only change that Wizards interim head coach Peter Vermes made in his starting XI from the team that defeated New England 4-2 on Saturday.Wizards right winger Herculez Gomez slowly began to come into the game and he should have claimed a highlight-reel strike in the 33rd minute when he latched onto Namoff's low clearance at the top of the D.C. box and whipped a fierce strike towards the top left corner of the net. But D.C.'s veteran right back atoned for his original error, bravely nodding the bid over the bar with Wicks left exposed.United struggled to clear on the ensuing corner kick, setting off an extended frenzy of scoring chances for K.C. Jimmy Conrad directed a header onto the bar and Wolff tried an overhead kick as the ball pinged around in the goalmouth and both Namoff and Julius James had to produce desperate clearances off the line. D.C. would take full advantage of the letoff, scoring off a well-designed corner kick of their own in the 39th minute. Gomez played a quick one-two with Luciano Emilio before curling a near-post cross to the head of Namoff, who flicked the ball across the face of goal - and though Pontius' diving header at the back post clanged off the woodwork, Emilio did not miss on the rebound, finishing into an empty net from close range to seize a 1-0 lead. Though their 2009 campaign has been a trying one and they remain stuck in the Eastern Conference basement, the Wizards had worked hard to take the game to their hosts and were unlucky not to be rewarded for a positive first-half display. D.C. had pushed in front against the run of play and Soehn looked to secure his team's advantage with a halftime substitution, bringing on Ben Olsen in central midfield in place of Gomez. As the second stanza played out with neither side enjoying any real dominance, the United boss rejiggered his side again, pulling off James in place of Avery John, who played left back as Wallace moved to the base of midfield and Simms dropped into central defense. Yet for all those defensive-minded adjustments, Kansas City seemed destined to equalize in the 65th minute when Wolff nodded a booming diagonal ball into Arnaud's path and McTavish overpursued, leaving the Texan free with the goal gaping at his mercy from 12 yards out. Perhaps it was too much time and space for Arnaud, who aimed for the top corner and missed, blazing high over the target on what should've been a simple finish. His dejected reaction exemplified the Wizards' difficult evening as they toiled with no recompense - and growing list of cautions in referee Terry Vaughn's book also reflected their growing frustrations. Those niggling fouls eventually came back to haunt Vermes' side when Chance Myers received his second yellow card for a clumsy lunge on Moreno, putting K.C. behind the 8-ball as they had to finish with 10 men.Emilio twice came close to sealing the result in the final minutes - first on a chip over Hartman that was cleared off the line by Conrad, and again when Hartman saved his low drive after a smart feed from Moreno set him loose.Though he was denied a brace, the Brazilian's first-half tally stood up in the end as United held off their visitors for a 1-0 victory to open their five-game homestand on a high note. United next face a rematch of their loss in the U.S. Open Cup Final just a week ago, when they play host to Seattle Sounders FC at RFK Stadium on Saturday evening. The Wizards conclude their week-long, three-game road swing on Saturday evening when they take on the New York Red Bulls at Giants Stadium.Kansas City Wizards (6-11-6) vs. D.C. United (8-5-12) September 09, 2009 -- RFK Stadium

Scoring Summary:
DC -- Luciano Emilio 9 (unassisted) 39Kansas City Wizards -- Kevin Hartman, Jonathan Leathers, Matt Besler, Jimmy Conrad, Michael Harrington, Claudio Lopez, Santiago Hirsig (Graham Zusi 78), Jack Jewsbury, Herculez Gomez (Chance Myers 46), Davy Arnaud (Zoltan Hercegfalvi 69), Josh Wolff,Substitutes Not Used: Aaron Hohlbein, Kurt Morsink, Boris Pardo, Lance WatsonD.C. United -- Josh Wicks, Bryan Namoff, Clyde Simms, Julius James (Avery John 62), Santino Quaranta (Fred 85), Christian Gomez (Ben Olsen 46), Devon McTavish, Rodney Wallace, Chris Pontius, Luciano Emilio, Jaime Moreno,Substitutes Not Used: Andrew Jacobson, Milos Kocic, Tiyiselani Shipalane, Danny SzetelaMisconduct Summary:
DC -- Christian Gomez (caution; Reckless Foul) 27KC -- Michael Harrington (caution; Reckless Foul) 69KC -- Matt Besler (caution; Reckless Foul) 74KC -- Chance Myers (caution; Reckless Tackle) 81DC -- Avery John (caution; Reckless Tackle) 84KC -- Chance Myers (ejection; Second Caution) 86DC -- Josh Wicks (caution; Delaying a Restart) 93+Referee: Terry VaughnReferee's Assistants: Adam Wienckowski; Cyril Madukanya4th official: Niko BratsisTime of game: 1:51Attendance: 8,033weather: Cloudy -and- 74 degrees