HOUSTON - APRIL 29: Cam Weaver #15 of the Houston Dynamo dribbles past a sliding Marc Burch #4 of D.C. United at Robertson Stadium on April 29, 2011 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images)

D.C. United Vs. Houston: Bruin's Hat Trick Helps Dynamo Trounce D.C. United, 4-1

Will Bruin's hat trick, along with Cam Weaver's emphatic finish, leads Houston over D.C. United 4-1 Friday night.

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D.C. United Vs. Houston Player Ratings: No One Covers Themselves In Glory

We grade each member of D.C. United on their performance Friday night against Houston, and the results are not pretty.

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D.C. United Vs. Houston: Bruin, Weaver Bury United In 2nd Half

Rookie Houston Dynamo striker Will Bruin completed his first career MLS hat trick and Cam Weaver added a fourth goal to doom D.C. United to their third straight defeat in all competitions as they fell 4-1 to Houston Friday night at Robertson Stadium.

Trailing 2-1 at halftime, D.C. United made a bright start to the second half thanks in large part to the substitution of Andy Najar for Fred at halftime. But the visitors couldn't make their pressure tell with a goal and the Dynamo eventually made them pay as Bruin scored his and Houston's third goal of the night. There wasn't much art to the 57th-minute goal. It came off a free kick which Brad Davis swung into the six-yard box, and for which Bruin outjumped Perry Kitchen to head past Bill Hamid, just as the striker had done on his second goal in the 41st minute. 

The final indignity came in the 62nd minute, as Houston scored their fourth goal on an unforgivable lapse by United's defense. With Hunter Freeman preparing to take a throw-in from Houston's own half, Weaver slipped behind the visitor's defense, taking advantage of the rule that says an attacker can't be offside from a throw-in. With all of United's back four looking back upfield, Weaver received the throw-in unmarked and a good 10 yards ahead of D.C. United's defense. With Ethan White, Dejan Jakovic, Perry Kitchen, and Marc Burch hurriedly tracking back in vain, Weaver strolled into the area and finished high past Hamid from a tight angle.

The remaining 30 minutes or so were only valuable as an academic exercise and not a competitive one.

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D.C. United Vs. Houston: Bruin's Brace The Difference For Dynamo

The halftime whistle has gone at Robertson Stadium and at the moment, D.C. United are in danger of losing their third straight match in all competitions as they trail the Houston Dynamo 2-1.

As has been their wont recently, United fell behind early in the match as Geoff Cameron stole the ball from Clyde Simms in United's half and slipped a through ball to Will Bruin, who beat Dejan Jakovic to the spot and slotted the ball past Will Bruin to put the Dynamo up 1-0 in the 4th minute.

United had a reasonable claim for a penalty waved away just past the half-hour mark when Chris Pontius appeared to be tripped up by Hunter Freeman in Houston's penalty area, but referee Jasen Anno did not agree.

United shrugged off the controversy, and their possession was rewarded in the 39th minute when Marc Burch banged a free kick from outside the area through the small space between Tally Hall's left hand and the goalpost to tie the match at 1-1. But United barely had any time to enjoy being back on level footing before Bruin stole into the six-yard area ahead of Perry Kitchen to head home a pinpoint Brad Davis cross from the left wing for Bruin's second of the night so far.

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D.C. United Vs. Houston: Zayner Back In Starting Lineup

Jed Zayner makes his first start for D.C. United since the March 19 season opener against the Columbus Crew as he replaces Chris Korb in the visitors' backline. That's the only change Ben Olsen has made to his starting line-up. Otherwise, he keeps the same team from the 4-0 whitewash against New York last week with Charlie Davies and Josh Wolff starting up front and Dejan Jakovic and Perry Kitchen forming the center-back tandem.

Full D.C. United Starting Lineup: Bill Hamid (GK), Marc Burch, Dejan Jakovic, Perry Kitchen, Jed Zayner, Chris Pontius, Clyde Simms, Dax McCarty (Captain), Fred, Charlie Davies, Josh Wolff.

Available D.C. United Substitutes: Steve Cronin (GK), Chris Korb, Ethan White, Santino Quaranta, Joseph Ngwenya, Andy Najar, Blake Brettschneider.

Houston Dynamo Starting Lineup: Tally Hall (GK), Hunter Freeman, Bobby Boswell, Andre Hainault, Corey Ashe, Colin Clark, Lovel Palmer, Geoff Cameron, Brad Davis, Cam Weaver, Will Bruin.

Available Houston Dynamo Stubstitutes: Tyler Deric (GK), Je-Vaughn Watson, Brian Ching, Mike Chabala, Kofi Sarkodie, Koke, Eddie Robinson.

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D.C. United Vs. Houston: Black And Red Look For Key Road Win

After a humbling 4-0 loss at home to New York last Thursday and a 3-2 loss to the New England Revolution that eliminated D.C. United from U.S. Open Cup play for 2011, the Black-and-Red look to get back on the winning track tonight against the Houston Dynamo, who sit two points ahead of United in the Eastern Conference (yes, Houston's in the East now).

D.C. United (2-3-1) at Houston Dynamo (2-1-3)

Time: 8:30 p.m., Friday, April 29

Place: Robertson Stadium, Houston.

TV: Fox Soccer Channel

Team News and Tactics

D.C. United: Despite a negative MRI result, Branko Boskovic has been left behind in D.C. with a left knee contusion picked up in Tuesday night's Cup loss to New England. The injury couldn't have come at a worse time for the Montenegrin, who scored both United goals against the Revolution and appeared to be playing his way back into the starting lineup. Kurt Morsink (concussion) is also not with the team, though defenseman Jed Zayner (hamstring strain) and backup goaltender Steve Cronin (fractured left wrist) are both available for selection tonight.

I wouldn't expect to see too many changes from Thursday's lineup for D.C. United head coach Ben Olsen. It's possible that Zayner will get a run-out in defense as a substitute, and I wouldn't be surprised to see Andy Najar a bit earlier than we've been accustomed to seeing him this season after Olsen praised his play Tuesday night, but I would still expect to see the Triad of Charlie Davies, Josh Wolff and Chris Pontius leading the line, with Dax McCarty starting in midfield and a centerback pairing of Dejan Jakovic and Perry Kitchen. The other key question is whether Santino Quaranta or Fred takes the fourth midfield place alongside McCarty, Pontius, and Clyde Simms.

Houston: U.S. International Brian Ching likely will not start tonight's match due to separated ribs while Calen Carr is out with a concussion. Jermaine Taylor (foot sprain) and Francisco Navas Cobo (hamstring strain) are listed as questionable, while Danny Cruz is likely to start in midfield despite having a hyperextended knee.

The Dynamo played a 3-5-2 formation in last week's 1-1 draw against the Chicago Fire, and I'd expect them to do the same thing here as they try to mirror New York's dominant midfield possession from last week.

Key To The Game

Defending Set Pieces: United struggle to defend set pieces, and Houston's equalizer against Chicago came off a corner kick in the 83rd minute. The Black-and-Red must deal with the physicality of last week's goalscorer Bobby Boswell, Will Bruin, and Cam Weaver if they are to come away with something tonight.

Bonus Miscellaneous Statistic

United is 0-6-1 all-time at Houston entering tonight's game.

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