CARSON, Calif (AP) — D.C. United won an unprecedented fourth MLS Cup on yesterday, beating Kansas City 3-2.
United spotted the Wizards an early goal, then scored three times in a seven-minute span of the first half to move in front for good.
Alecko Eskandarian scored in the 19th minute to tie it 1-1, then added another goal four minutes later.
United built a two-goal lead on an own-goal when a pass by Earnie Stewart deflected off Wizards’ defender Alex Zotinca and into the net in the 26th minute.
Kansas City, the 2000 MLS Cup champion, pulled within 3-2 on Josh Wolff’s penalty kick in the 58th minute. The Wizards were awarded the kick when United’s Dema Kovalenko, protecting the goal line, used his hand to knock a shot by Davy Arnaud over the bar.
Kovalenko was ejected, the first player sent off in the nine-year history of the Cup.
Despite being down a man, United held off the Wizards the rest of the way.
Freddy Adu, United’s 15-year-old phenom, came on as a substitute in the 65th minute to a roar from the crowd of 25,797. He made a run down the side with the ball late in the game, but goalkeeper Bo Oshoniyi was able to pick up the ball before Adu could get off a shot.
It was United’s fifth appearance in Major League Soccer’s championship game, but the first since a 2-0 victory over Los Angeles in 1999. The only loss in those five trips was a 2-0 defeat by Chicago in 1998. Peter Nowak, United’s rookie coach, assisted on both the Fire’s goals and was the MVP of that title game six years ago.
After Jose Burciaga’s curling 35-yard shot seemed to catch United’s defense napping and gave the Wizards the lead in the sixth minute, Eskandarian got United rolling.
His first goal was a workmanlike individual effort. His second came after a Kansas City clearing pass bounced off his arm and toward the Wizards’ goal.
Eskandarian, with the Wizards’ Diego Gutierrez tight on him at the top of the box, controlled a pass from Brian Carroll, fought his way around Gutierrez and boomed the ball into the right upper corner of the net to draw United even.
He made it 2-1 four minutes later when he came flying in — arm up — to deflect the ball as Jimmy Conrad tried to kick it downfield. As the ball rolled toward the goal, Eskandarian chased it down and then shot to the left as Oshoniyi went left.
The apparent handball went unnoticed by referee Michael Kennedy.
The own-goal came when Stewart’s hard cross bounced off Zotinca, who was rushing back toward the goal, and the ball sailed past Oshoniyi.