Sorry for the delay. I don't have internet at my house, or reliable stand-ins (a-HEM). Anyway...
The Reds swept the Pirates, which they also did the last time the two teams played. Bronson Arroyo pitched a gem, going seven innings and only allowing five hits and one run. He got his team high 14th win and brought his ERA down to a nice 3.95. The Reds got all of their runs in the third inning, with doubles from Drew Sutton and Joey Votto pacing the team. Brandon Phillips got his 95th RBI of the season, and Francisco Cordero recorded his 39th save. Some nice round numbers seem in reach for both of those gentlemen, and while personal accomplishments seem to be the only thing left to play for, the team has actually gone 21-10 since falling behind the Pirates. Too little, too late certainly, but what a fun way to close out the season.
The Pirates claimed 15,892 tickets were sold, but with two crappy teams and the G-20 summit in town, the actual body count of people in attendance was closer to 3,000.
DC United played host to Marathon (Honduras) in their CONCACAF Champions League match last night, and drew 5,280 fans. A small crowd, but it was the envy of PNC Park on this day. United had been enduring a terrible run of form in both the Champions League and the regular MLS season. They had just finished a brutal stretch of schedule that saw them play 10 matches in 31 days. That last match was a 1-0 win in Champions League over San Juan Jabloteh (Trinidad & Tobago) which, coupled with a nine day break, gave them hope for their flagging season. Marathon, conversely, was not at all rested or buoyant. They had lost to Toluca (Mexico), 7-0 in their previous Champions League game, then political strife in Honduras caused their domestic league to be suspended and all airports closed. To even get to Washington, DC, they had to take a six hour bus ride to El Salvador, wait four hours, fly to Miami, and then connect to DC. They arrived about 19 hours before kickoff.
Still, they gamely played the hosts to a standstill in the opening half. United's striker and Designated Player (a la David Beckham), Luciano Emilio, had several chances but found his final touch woefully lacking as he could not muster a dangerous shot. But in the second half, following the insertion of all-time MLS scoring leader Jaime Moreno, United finally began to break down their beleaguered guests. In the 47th minute, defender Avery John sent a beautiful cross into the box that found Emilio slotted between two defenders. The Brazilian rose up and nodded the ball into the side netting, giving United the lead.
Emilio continued to run rampant in the second half, making a dangerous run down the right flank and sending a cross into the box. Marathon's defense failed to secure it, and it fell to Santino Quaranta who gently slid the ball back to Moreno. Two quick touches and the Bolivian marksman scored to double the lead. United needed two goals to go ahead of Marathon on goal differential, but added a third as canny veteran Ben Olsen made a nifty outside of the foot pass to spring Emilio. Emilio beat the offsides trap, took two loping strides, and fired the ball past the keeper and into the net for United's third goal. DC then held on as Marathon tenaciously searched for an important away goal, but the defense was stalwart. DC won, its largest margin of victory this season, and moved into second place in their group, putting them in position to move on to the quarterfinals. Each team has two games remaining.
Danilo Noel Diron Memorial Honorary Man of the Match
Luciano Emilio. Emilio was dangerous all night, and despite flubbing some great chances in the first half, scored two great goals that secured United's spot in the top two. Heroes were plentiful on the night as United played some of the best soccer they've played all season.