Gomez's header lifts D.C. United over Real Salt Lake

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WASHINGTON (AP) -- Christian Gomez scored off a cross-field header in the 73rd minute and D.C. United beat Real Salt Lake 2-1 on Wednesday to become the first MLS team to clinch a playoff spot.

Gomez's seventh goal of the season, off assists from Fred and Bobby Boswell, helped D.C. United (15-6-4) run its unbeaten streak to nine matches.

Real Salt Lake midfielder Kyle Beckerman blasted a shot from 20 yards to the right of diving goalkeeper Troy Perkins for a 1-1 tie in the 32nd minute. Defender Chris Wingert assisted on the play.

Real Salt Lake dropped to 4-13-6.

Luciano Emilio's header in the 18th minute gave D.C. United a 1-0 lead. Emilio exhibited great leaping ability on his goal scored. Gomez assisted Emilio's dazzling goal from just inside the end line at the far side of the 18-yard box.

On Monday, Emilio was selected Major League Soccer's Player of the Week following consecutive two-goal games. Emilio has earned the weekly honors three times this season, a first for D.C. United. He has 18 goals, four more than New York's Juan Pablo Angel and Kansas City's Eddie Johnson.

D.C. United played without captain Jaime Moreno, who was on international duty with the Bolivian National Team.

Jean-Martial Kipre tackled Joshua Gros, whose free kick in the 50th minute was smothered by Real Salt Lake goalkeeper Nick Rimando.

Matias Matilla undercut Christian Gomez, who got a free kick from just outside the 18. Rimando made a leaping save of Gomez's blistering shot as the first half ended.

D.C. United captain Ben Olsen received a yellow card in the 39th minute and will serve a one-game suspension.

Fabian Espindola had an opportunity denied in the ninth minute for Real Salt Lake, which outshot D.C. United 8-5 in the first half.

D.C. United forward Guy-Roland Kpene missed wide right on a scoring attempt in the third minute.

D.C. United paid tribute to Real Salt Lake defender Eddie Pope during a pregame ceremony. Pope, who plans to retire after this season, was a stalwart for D.C. United from 1996 through 2002.

(Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.) APTV-09-12-07 2011MDT

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