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Late collapse dooms D.C. United again
by Ridge Mahoney, August 27th, 2009 7AM



[CONCACAF CHAMPIONS LEAGUE] Home and away, D.C. United's failure to close out games has cost it points, of which it has zero after two matches in Group B of the Concacaf Champions' League. A week after conceding two late goals in San Pedro Sula to lose, 3-1, to Marathon, United suffered the same fate at RFK Stadium Wednesday against Mexican club Toluca.

Hector Mancilla scored goals six minutes apart to blow open a 1-1 game and punctuate a strong finish by Toluca, which had conceded an equalizer early in the second half and rode out some sustained pressure from D.C. to regain control of the match.

United rookie Chris Pontius scored to cancel out an early goal by Vladimir Marin, who seized upon on a defensive miscue to score in just the fifth minute. Under pressure from Marin, right back David Habarugira couldn't clear a dipping cross; the ball glanced off his feet and Marin struck it past keeper Josh Wicks.

D.C. United managed just three shots in the first half and none of them hit the frame. Midfielder Andrew Jacobson shot wide from distance as efforts by forwards Jaime Moreno and Pontius to link with each other or their teammates usually ran around. Coach Tom Soehn removed Ely Allen before halftime and brought on Fred to add impetus on the left side of midfield and also give greater support to the forwards.

Santino Quaranta replaced Moreno at halftime and D.C. surprised Toluca with a spurt of aggression and energy that produced an equalizer. With Fred sliding inside, Quaranta floated left to swerve an inswinging cross that Pontius lunged between two defenders to head powerfully into the net.

A physical second half yielded a few rough challenges but also crisp attacks leading to decent chances for Toluca, and occasionally, a D.C. United set play. Free kicks from Quaranta and Marc Burch failed to threaten.

In the 52nd minute, Avery John knocked down Hector Mancilla in the penalty area without getting close to the ball but referee Courtney Campbell chose not to blow the whistle. A few minutes later John collided with Issac Brizuela as they dueled for the ball and his left shoe accidentally caught Brizuela in the face.

United keeper Josh Wicks' brave challenges in the second half thwarted Toluca several times, but he had no chance in the 79th minute. Mancilla, isolated against Burch on the right side of the box, faked outside and inside, then stepped with the ball outside to drill a great, rising shot far-post. The D.C. keeper flew high to his left a minute later to deflect a rising shot by Calderon, but the inevitable third goal came nonetheless when Calderon's low cross deflected off Julius James' foot through the goal area to Mancilla, who tapped it in.

Concacaf Champions League
Aug. 26 in Washington, D.C.

D.C. United 1, Toluca 3.
Marin 5; Mancilla (Matias) 79, Mancilla (Calderon) 85; Pontius (Quaranta) 47.
D.C. United - Wicks, Habarugira (Namoff, 64), James, Burch, John, McTavish, Jacobsen, Simms, Allen (Fred, 34), Pontius, Moreno (Quaranta, 46).
Toluca - Cristante, Olvera, Duenas, Romagnoli, Almazan, Marin (Calderon, 67), Cruzalta, De La Torres, Matias (Lopez, 84), Brizuela (Esquivel, 68), Mancilla.
Referee: Courtney Campbell.
Att.: 8,834.

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