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Emilio lifts United to first win

Apr 5, 2009 - 3:00 AM WASHINGTON (AP) -- D.C. United's second-half woes have been a key part of the team's mediocre start to this season.

Luciano Emilio quickly put an end to that.

Emilio scored his second goal of the season early in the second half to give D.C. United its first win, 1-0 over the Houston Dynamo on Saturday night.

United (1-0-2) had struggled after halftime in their first two games, when they were outscored 3-1 in the second half in a pair of draws.

Emilio bucked that trend with his second goal in as many contests. He caught up with a ball lobbed into the box by Bryan Namoff, then chipped a shot over goalkeeper Pat Onstad into the top left corner of the goal in the 47th minute.

"The last two games we didn't play good, especially in the second half," Emilio said. "The 1-0 lead in the start of the second half was very important for us for confidence. We knew that we could win in that time"

Holding onto the lead became slightly more difficult when Jaime Moreno was assessed a red card for a midfield tackle of Houston's Brad Davis in the 70th minute. United were pleased they overcame the setback.

"It's good to be tested early and come out with three points," Ben Olsen said. "I think it shows that we've got some men out there, and we stepped up in a difficult situation against a good team."

The win was United's first in two years over the Dynamo, who put all three of their shots on goal in the second half. United goalkeeper Louis Crayton made four saves in his first shutout of the season.

Davis had Houston's best chance of the match in the 80th minute when he fired a hard shot through the air from 25 yards, but Crayton pushed it back with his fingertips.

"I think it took a deflection along the way coming," Crayton said. "I did get a hand to it."

The match marked the reunion of the Dynamo's two top forwards for the first time this season.

Brian Ching, their leading scorer last season, returned after missing a match due to U.S. national team commitments. Kei Kamara, who was suspended the first two games for a preseason altercation with officials, came off the bench to start the second half.

Houston played while short-handed on the sideline. Coach Dominic Kinnear was suspended through April 9 for leaving the technical area in a 3-2 loss to the San Jose Earthquakes March 23.

Assistant coach John Spencer, who took Kinnear's place, said results so far have been underwhelming for the Dynamo.

"We're not happy losing games," Spencer said. "We feel like we've got the group guys that can come and have a quality team to win more matches than we're winning, that's for sure."