for this game

Emilio's goal lifts United to 1-0 win over Wizards

Sep 10, 2009 - 2:36 AM WASHINGTON (STATS) - Given a preference, Tom Soehn will usually choose substance over style, meaning the D.C. United coach embraced every ugly facet of a triumph his team desperately needed.

Luciano Emilio scored in the 39th minute and United opened a five-game homestand with a 1-0 victory over the Kansas City Wizards on Wednesday night.

"It's not always going to be pretty," Soehn said. "Getting results when it's not pretty, that's the times you need it. Those were crucial points."

The victory moved D.C. (8-5-12) into sole possession of third place in the Eastern Conference. United moved ahead of four other teams fighting for the final three MLS playoff berths.

"This stretch of home games is crucial for us," Soehn said. "We've built everything up to this point, and if we stay close, we control our own destiny. We're not going to watch anybody but ourselves."

Josh Wicks made five saves and notched his fifth shutout of the season as United ran its unbeaten streak to four games (2-0-2) and improved to 6-0-5 at RFK Stadium.

Kansas City controlled play for much of the first half but couldn't score.

Emilio's goal came shortly after the Wizards" Jimmy Conrad and Josh Wolff were thwarted during a three-chance sequence from 5 yards in the 36th minute.

Conrad's header glanced off the crossbar before United goalkeeper Josh Wicks blocked Wolff's follow on a bicycle kick. Wolff had the third shot of the flurry, which was cleared away by a defender in traffic.

"That's usually how it works," said Wicks. "For the most part of the first half, they had the better play, they had more chances. But that sequence, we kept the ball out of the net and the zeros are still on the board."

Not converting on several golden opportunities came back to haunt the Wizards.

"It wasn't a half-chance type of night - they were clear-cut opportunities," Kansas City interim coach Peter Vermes said. "I was more concerned that the guys were getting frustrated a little bit. Then, going out in the second half, we got antsy a little bit."

The Wizards were also playing from behind during a second half where they couldn't muster a shot.

Emilio converted a few seconds after a corner-kick opportunity. Chris Pontius was unsuccessful with a diving header attempt at the left post, but the loose ball squirted off the upright and across the penalty area to Emilio, who scored his team-high ninth goal on a low shot from the right side that beat goalkeeper Kevin Hartman to his left.

The Wizards (6-11-6) fell to 1-4-0 under Vermes, who replaced the fired Curt Onalfo on Aug. 4. Kansas City has dropped five of six overall.

Vermes saw progress, just not enough tangible rewards.

"We felt as if we did something we've been talking about for a short period of time: trying to drive the game," he said. "We were driving the game offensively. ... But you create that many opportunities and you have to stick the ball in the back of the net. That's something we didn't have the conviction on."

Chance Myers received his second yellow card in the 86th minute for a hard tackle on D.C.'s Jaime Moreno and the Wizards played a man down the rest of the way.