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Column: Win or Not, an "Embarrassment" for D.C. United

Outplayed and out-coached, D.C. United looked like it could be heading out of the first round of the Major League Soccer playoffs for the second year and row, but Christian Gomez, who will likely be named the MLS MVP in two week's time, managed to bail out his team and his coach for the second game in a row, this time a with a near-post goal four minutes from time. Even so, it was a poor performance from D.C. United, says The Washington Post's Mike Wise, one that would have been "grounds for termination" for several members of MLS' most storied franchise, including coach Peter Nowak, had Bruce Arena and Red Bull New York managed to eke out a victory yesterday at RFK Stadium. Teenage sensation Freddy Adu agreed, calling United's 1-1 draw with New York the worst performance by his team since before the 17-year old winger got his driver's license. Nowak's reaction wasn't much more positive, either: the former Chicago Fire midfielder actually said the performance meant New England had to be the favorite for this weekend's Eastern Conference Final. Wise pointed out that Nowak, who many say is long-shot candidate to replace Bruce Arena as the U.S. Men's National team coach, "may not even be United's coach next season." Wise says that what kills Nowak's chances and could eventually lead to a premature departure in D.C., is "his inflexibility and inability to change strategies and preparation," and "his intolerance for fatigue." By the latter, he means Nowak's refusal to give Jaime Moreno and other worn-down United players a much-needed rest during the season after the league had already been wrapped up. Moreno and others looked "shot." In fact, Wise says Nowak's players "don't get up for big games like they once did" for him. Yesterday's draw recalled the 4-0 loss United suffered at home to Chicago last year. Even if Nowak's United somehow manages to win this year's MLS Cup, "it is time to go another direction next season," Wise said.

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