First-half breakdown dooms United

HOUSTON -- Three goals in four minutes in the first half doomed D.C. United against the Houston Dynamo Saturday night at Robertson Stadium. A second-half Luciano Emilio brace and an impressive strike from Fred were not enough to get United back into the game as they fell 4-3 to the Dynamo."Having to fight back and come back from three goals ... is not easy to do," said United head coach Tom Soehn. "I credit the guys for fighting through and making sure the effort was there, but the execution wasn't there on the day."For the first 30 minutes, United and Houston were playing very evenly. Then the floor fell out from underneath United and in a matter of four minutes, the Dynamo exploded for the fastest three goals in club history.On the first, Dynamo midfielder Brad Davis broke across the top of box and when no D.C. defender stepped up to pressure him, he ripped a low shot into the back of the net. On the second, a Jaime Moreno turnover resulted in Brian Ching streaking toward goal. Again no United defender stepped up and Ching's shot from inside the area beat Wicks. On the final goal, Ching again was marked poorly as a Mike Chabala cross found Ching in the box and he ripped his shot off the side netting."We had a three-minute stretch in the first half where we got away from the things we were doing earlier," said Soehn. "Closing service, even closing the one Brian Ching came through, and they are good enough that they are going to punish you. That three-minute span cost us a lot."Wicks took part of the blame on the first goal as he was slightly indecisive, torn between stopping Davis' effort and expecting Geoff Cameron to deflect the Davis service in front of goal."[I] got caught flat-footed," said Wicks. "[I was] caught frozen and it snuck in."However, Wicks wasn't solely to blame as the rest of the defense felt it was equally at fault on all three first-half goals."Five minutes, we lacked concentration for five minutes and they scored three goals and that's not easy to come back from," said Jaime Moreno. "We worked hard, but it's very hard to come back from 3-0. We knew we had to do something though, to have a little bit of feeling for this team and organization as it was so embarrassing."Credit has to go to United for the heart they showed in battling back from the halftime deficit against one of top defenses statistically in MLS. Emilio came on to start the second half and provided a spark off the bench, scoring a second-half brace.On the first goal, Emilio received the ball from a Bryan Namoff free kick and he ripped his shot from inside the area in the 48th minute. The ball was deflected off a Dynamo defender and beat Onstad to cut the lead to two and give United some life.Just as it looked like United was coming back into the game, D.C. defender Dejan Jakovic was whistled for a penalty kick, much to the dismay of United. Stuart Holden ended up converting the penalty to push the lead back up to 4-1."From my angle it was a great effort by Dejan and he got the majority of the ball," said Soehn. "His momentum went into the player and that's something where the game at that point you have to give the benefit to the defender."With the three-goal lead restored, D.C. could have again gone quietly. Instead, in the 74th minute, Fred hit a remarkable strike into the side netting from 25 yards out, leaving Onstad no chance.Emilio followed with his second goal of the half to cut the lead to one but it was too little, too late for United.United have yet to win at Robertson Stadium, now having lost four times in five matches in all competitions. Up next for United is the second leg of the team's CONCACAF Champions League preliminary round series against CD Luis Angel Firpo in El Salvador on Tuesday."We have to keep our heads up," said Moreno. "We have another important game on Tuesday which is going to be a big test for us."Dwain Capodice is a contributor to D.C. United (6-4-10) vs. Houston Dynamo (10-5-5)August 01, 2009 -- Robertson Stadium Scoring Summary:HOU -- Brad Davis 4 (Dominic Oduro 3, Mike Chabala 2) 36HOU -- Brian Ching 6 (Dominic Oduro 4, Stuart Holden 4) 38HOU -- Brian Ching 7 (Mike Chabala 3) 39DC -- Luciano Emilio 7 (Bryan Namoff 4) 49HOU -- Stuart Holden 5 (penalty kick) 66DC -- Fred 2 (Jaime Moreno 3) 74DC -- Luciano Emilio 8 (Marc Burch 2) 87D.C. United -- Josh Wicks, Bryan Namoff, Dejan Jakovic, Marc Burch, Fred, Christian Gomez (Luciano Emilio 46), Andrew Jacobson, Ben Olsen (Avery John 46), Santino Quaranta, Chris Pontius, Jaime Moreno (Danny Szetela 79).Substitutes Not Used: John DiRaimondo, Greg Janicki, Milos Kocic, Devon McTavishHouston Dynamo -- Pat Onstad, Andrew Hainault (Craig Waibel 83), Bobby Boswell, Julius James, Mike Chabala, Geoff Cameron, Ricardo Clark, Stuart Holden, Brad Davis (Corey Ashe 64), Brian Ching (Ade Akinbiyi 79), Dominic Oduro.Substitutes Not Used: Wade Barrett, Danny Cruz, Tally Hall, Erik UstruckMisconduct Summary:DC -- Ben Olsen (caution; Reckless Tackle) 20DC -- Christian Gomez (caution; Reckless Tackle) 45HOU -- Stuart Holden (caution; Unsporting Behavior) 45HOU -- Brad Davis (caution; Reckless Foul) 49DC -- Marc Burch (caution; Dissent) 65DC -- Josh Wicks (caution; Dissent) 65DC -- Chris Pontius (caution; Reckless Tackle) 73Referee: Ricardo SalazarReferee's Assistants: C.J. Morgante; Adam Garner4th official: Jasen AnnoTime of game: 1:53Attendance: 14,694Weather: Sunny -and- 95 degreesAll statistics contained in this boxscore are unofficial.