for this game

Lopez's PK lifts Wizards into tie with D.C. United

Oct 25, 2009 - 4:32 AM KANSAS CITY, Kan. (STATS) - One foul in the penalty area launched D.C. United's second-half comeback, but the next one rendered that meaningless.

The only common factor was the same man was at the heart of both plays.

Claudio Lopez's penalty kick in second-half stoppage time salvaged a 2-2 tie for the Kansas City Wizards on Saturday night, effectively ending D.C. United's playoff hopes in the regular-season finale for both teams.

Brazilian midfielder Fred drew a foul that led to Jaime Moreno's 67th-minute penalty kick, pulling United into a 1-1 tie. But after Julius James' 82nd-minute header put D.C. up 2-1, Fred drew a handball penalty and an automatic red card for using his upper arm to block Roger Espinoza's shot on the goal line in the second minute of stoppage time.

Lopez then drove the ball past Steve Cronin to close the scoring.

"From my opinion, it wasn't a PK," Fred said. "My arm was close at the shoulder, and I turned in a little bit with the right shoulder, and it got me. I think because I made a move, he gave me the penalty."

United coach Tom Soehn, however, didn't second-guess referee Ricardo Salazar's decision to award the penalty.

"He made a pretty quick call," Soehn said. "I guess it must have been one."

With six teams still in the hunt for the final two playoff spots going into the weekend, D.C. (9-8-13) could have qualified with a draw but would have needed plenty of help.

"We'll have to see how the results go first," forward Chris Pontius said, "but for it to end this way, in this type of game - we were up 2-1 and we were thinking we were going to go through. It's tough to sit and watch the results when everything's out of your hands."

The Wizards (8-13-9), winless in their final five matches, were eliminated with last week's 3-2 home loss to Seattle.

"That was what we wanted, not to lose the last game at home and to get that point," said forward Kei Kamara, whose 30th-minute header put the Wizards up 1-0. "That, and to send them home without a win."

Moreno, a late first-half sub, converted his penalty kick after Fred drew a foul against Kansas City's Matt Marquess. Replays showed Fred backing into Marquess, who was making his first appearance of the season, and falling backward to the pitch.

"He got me," Fred said with a laugh. "I had to fall down."

James made it 2-1, heading the ball home from point-blank range after pouncing on a short punch-save by Kansas City goalkeeper Kevin Hartman.

Kamara's goal from 6 yards, off a free kick from Graham Zusi, was his sixth of the season but the first since Kansas City acquired him from Houston in mid-September.

It was only the 12th first-half goal for Kansas City this year. The Wizards are 8-0-4 when scoring first.

"Once we got our second wind, I thought we did a lot better," Soehn said. "I injected some fresh legs, but ultimately we came up short."