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Mexico City Madness
by Ridge Mahoney, October 22nd, 2008 7AM



[CONCACAF CHAMPIONS LEAGUE] Strange scenes are nothing new to Concacaf competitions, yet the truly bizarre befell D.C. United in its 2-0 loss to Mexican club Cruz Azul.

James Thorpe and Louis Crayton, the two goalies taken by United on its 15-man roster for this match, both were sent off by referee Roberto Moreno.

Nicolas Vigneri scored in the first half five minutes after Thorpe received his second caution when he switched the ball from one side of the goal area to the other while taking a goal kick. He'd already been cautioned for taking down Miguel Sabah with a sliding tackle in the ninth minute.

After Vigneri scored, United held out with 10 men until the final minutes when defender Gonzalo Martinez, who'd been limping because of a leg injury for at least 10 minutes, stayed on the ground in the penalty area after winning a vital tackle with a heroic effort.

Moreno didn't blow his whistle to stop play, and Cruz Azul didn't stop either, eventually creating a chance that Pedro Zeballos blasted past Crayton into the net.

The incensed keeper charged well out of his penalty area to berate Moreno, who after cautioning Crayton for dissent, pulled out the yellow card again and then the red when Crayton deliberately bumped into him.

Assistant coach Chad Ashton, in charge of the team because head coach Tom Soehn had been suspended after being ejected in a 2-2 tie with Deportivo Saprissa two weeks ago, moved forward Quavas Kirk into the goal to finish out the game.

The loss sealed D.C. United's first-round elimination.

Cruz Azul (3-1-1, 10 points) took over first place in Group A by winning but severe storms forced the other group game, between Marathon and Saprissa, which are tied for second with seven points apiece, to be postponed.


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