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Training Notes: Moreno Absent

[Eagles lose, 28-10, to England.]

The headline from training is that Jaime Moreno was excused due to illness. The club says his availability for tomorrow hasn't been determined, but on the afternoon he's being honored for his goal scoring, and just before he departs to join the Bolivian national team, you'd have to assume he'll be in uniform. If for some reason he doesn't play, he'll still be honored in the pre-game ceremony, provided he's at the stadium. Anyhow we all need a sick day here and there.

Third-string keeper Shawn Crowe already had the surgery to repair the meniscus in his knee, and apparently all went well. He was at training today, but, obviously, was not in uniform. The club expects him back before the end of the season.

Nearly 18,000 tickets have already been sold for Sunday, and the club is expecting a crowd of more than 20,000, which would be pretty impressive for the NFL's opening day. That would be the fifth home crowd of at least 20k this season. As of this writing, the club's average home attendance for MLS games is 20,721, a number which is obviously influenced by the Beckham game. Last year's average attendance was 18, 215.

If I'm reading the standings correctly, a loss by Columbus tonight combined with a win by DCU on Sunday would move United within two [some small number of] points of clinching a playoff spot. Which is obviously a formality, but still worth noting.

If you're into this kind of thing, here's a Q&A with Jeff Larentowicz, who talks about playing with red hair and goggles.

Today's quotes and one goofy anecdote after the jump.

Ben Olsen on whether Thursday's result was unlucky for United: "I don't think so. I would even hedge on the side of lucky. It could have went either way. It's always tough to kind of analyze it while you're playing, but it sounded like a pretty exciting game, back and forth. Anybody could have won that one. But they're a good team. I give them a lot of credit, the way they play. Their possession, their build-up is pretty good and they've got some crafty players and a solid defense that's organized."

Bryan Namoff on the first Chivas goal: "It just happened to be a fluke thing that kind of just dropped our momentum. We really were going at them in the first half, and it just kind of dropped our momentum, and leading into the second half they came out pretty energized and they got another deflection goal. It was good we got a point on the road, that's the positive. We were very unhappy we didn't get the win, but now we have to look towards the next game, because this is going to be the most important game of the season....It was just one of those you've got to say, 'That's one in a million.' "

Tommy Soehn on the first Chivas goal: "That was a mistake. There's no other way to look at it. I get over things fast. You can't dwell on it, because you've got the next one to get after."

Ben Olsen on whether switching the lineup so frequently creates issues with consistency: "At this point in the season, we all know how to play soccer. We've been playing six, seven months of non-stop soccer. So if you forget how to play now, there's something wrong. You get to this point in the season, you know what you're about, you know your strengths, you know your weaknesses, you know why you've played good at times and you know why you [messed] up. And we've had enough situations this season where we've learned a lot of lessons. At this point we know everything, we know who we are. So it's about now implementing those things into the game. Do we do that on that day? And if we do, we usually do pretty well."

Bryan Namoff on closing with five out of seven games at home: "Right now, we're starting to ride that wave that we had in the middle of [last] season....And [the home games are] great, that feels like a homefield advantage, especially going down the stretch. It's going to be a lot more confidence, being at home. We play very well at home, and we obviously have the best fans too. This is just a tough place to play for other teams."

Tommy Soehn on the showdown with New England for first place: "I don't think we've focused on New England as much as we focused on ourselves. We've set small goals along the way, and look at games, which ones are important. When you meet those goals, you look at the next one. This is part of a three-game stretch that we really focused on. It just happened to be New England at the end of it."

Finally, a brief tale that may or may not have previously appeared in the Insider. For years, the team's coaching staff has gotten from Estadio RFK to the training grounds via an ancient golf court that had one wheel in the grave, so to speak. A sparking new cart, complete with sparkling roof, arrived before the season, but Soehn wouldn't ride in it until the first win. That means DCU is 12-3-3 since the new cart entered use.

"The chariot," Mark Simpson called it today.

"This one has four wheels, the other one had two and a half," Soehn said. "The other one was older than me."

"Like, 25 years?" I asked.

"More like 60," Soehn said.

More tomorrow.

By Dan Steinberg  |  September 8, 2007; 2:52 PM ET
Categories:  D.C. United  
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Next: Welcome to Chengdu


great stuff steinberg! let's ride those 4 wheels to the championship.

Posted by: hokie soccer fan | September 8, 2007 3:10 PM | Report abuse

Re: Clinching Playoff Spot

Dan, I'm not sure your playoff calculation is correct. Columbus, Colorado, and Chicago are 8, 9 & 10. Both Columbus and Colorado have 28 points and seven games left, so the most points they can get is 49. Chicago has 26 points, but because they have eight games left, the most they can get is 50 points.

Because United has 43 points, we need to gain seven points on both Columbus and Colorado to clinch. In other words, a win tomorrow by United gets us within four points of clinching. Both Colorado and Columbus would have to lose tonight to get us within one point of clinching this weekend. If Colorado loses and Columbus wins, we'll be within two points of clinching (because Columbus would defeat Chicago, so their maximum points would drop to 47).

Clear as mud, right?

Posted by: argo0 | September 8, 2007 3:37 PM | Report abuse

Haha, Argo, I think you are correct. The league's "official" standings list DCU's magic number as 7, but that's sort of misleading since either Columbus or Chicago will get some sort of result tonight, and Chicago's max points are indeed higher.

Let's just say DCU will likely clinch its playoff berth within the next week or so.

Posted by: Dan Steinberg | September 8, 2007 3:43 PM | Report abuse

So I guess with Jaime likely out, that means we HAVE to start Olsen in this game to have an adequate captain on the field. He's got the heart (given), don't know if he has the legs this time round having played so much over the past few days.

I DO know that Abbey Okulaja is the ref, so I'm sure he'll find a way to ruin the game. I just hope Jay Heaps (of s...) finds a way to get ejected along the way.

If we break 25,000 I'll see even less reason for the DC Gov't to take us for granted. Why on earth do they not value the revenue stream United fans provide?

Posted by: spectre | September 8, 2007 4:39 PM | Report abuse

I hope that McTavish is back in the starting lineup vs New England. He may not have a resume, but the team always seems to play better with him starting in the middle.

Posted by: Hope springs eternal! | September 8, 2007 5:33 PM | Report abuse

"let's ride those 4 wheels to the championship"

That sounds awfully like Tony Kornheiser's wagon. Are we converting the Skin's bandwagon for the black and red?

can that thing even get out of Tony's garage?

Posted by: justsayin' | September 8, 2007 5:48 PM | Report abuse

good Job, Dan

Posted by: koolcaio | September 8, 2007 8:03 PM | Report abuse

good Job, Dan

Posted by: koolcaio | September 8, 2007 8:03 PM | Report abuse

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