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United comeback comes just in time
by Ridge Mahoney, October 17th, 2008 7AM

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[MLS] Only eight of 14 teams can reach the MLS playoffs, and there are nine candidates for the three remaining spots, but with just 10 days left in the season, every one is still standing.

D.C. United rallied from a goal down to beat New England, 2-1, at RFK Stadium Thursday in remarkable circumstances: striker Francis Doe, with zero MLS goals to his credit this season at kickoff, equalized in the 61st minute, and scored again with 10 minutes remaining to keep United's season on life support.

Its destiny is still out of its hands, as United (11-14-4, 37 points) has just one game remaining and can attain a maximum of 40 points. Yet not all of the teams it is dueling with can reach that number, since a few of them play each other, and there are two rounds of games to be played before it concludes its quest with the very last game of the season on Oct. 26.

A rugged, goalless first half left both teams bruised and frustrated. United keeper Louis Crayton, again buzzing with energy if not impeccable judgment, dived left to save a Mauricio Castro free kick.

D.C.'s desperation drove them forward. Boyzzz Khumalo crossed from the right flank to Luciano Emilio, who flicked a header off the underside of the crossbar that Chris Albright blasted out of danger. Marc Burch tested Matt Reis with a long, rising shot and the keeper responded smartly to save.

In the absence of the injured Steve Ralston, Khano Smith and Taylor Twellman worked overtime for chances, and two minutes into the second half Twellman fired a low shot that Reis deflected. New England broke through in the 58th minute when Michael Parkhurst intercepted a lazy pass in midfield and triggered a swift counterattack. Kheli Dube sent Castro up the right wing and his square ball easily cleared Crayton for Twellman to tap into the net for his 99th MLS goal.

At that moment, United's playoff hopes were dead. They were revived three minutes later when the Revs fell asleep in midfield.

Jamie Moreno threaded a ball through for Doe to blast low between Reis and the near post, sparking a heavy RFK roar seldom heard this season, a roar of belief and excitement its team rewarded with 10 minutes left.

Santino Quaranta jumped strongly to flick a long Crayton kick to Doe near the penalty arc, and the striker muscled his way through Parkhurst to clip a shot that floated, inexorably it seemed, into the top corner.

Let the waiting begin. D.C. can't be eliminated this weekend



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