Last in group A and facing incredible injury problems as well as hideous league pressure to make the playoffs, DC United trotted out an almost completely reserve side, yet managed a valiant point in Costa Rica as they tied the Purple Monsters of Saprissa 2-2. It was the first time an MLS side has ever garnered a point in Costa Rica under any circumstances.
United almost pulled off an incredible upset as they stunned Saprissa with an early lead and held on like grim death until ten minutes from time when they gave up two, but scrapped for another goal in injury time to draw the home side at 2 apiece for the first point ever by an MLS side in Costa Rica.
Saprissa has yet to lose a CONCACAF finals match at home in at least a decade, yet DC United struck first blood after a woeful mistake by the Costa Ricans. Barely six minutes into the match, United winger Quavas Kirk poked the ball away from Saprissa left back Alexander Robinson right to Francis Doe and he turned well to smack a skipping shot under Saprissa netminder Jose Porras.
United managed to hold onto the 1-0 lead by the skin of their teeth until halftime as Saprissa dominated the rest of the half, but failed to really threaten Zach Wellsâ€™ net for DC United except for one glorious chance that miraculously sailed wide of the net.
In the 32nd minute, Saprissa drew a dangerous freekick to the left of the area, but unfortunately Unitedâ€™s Rod Dyachenko was caught tripping Saprissaâ€™s Ronald Gomez on the ensuing free kick in the area for a penalty kick. Incredibly, Saprissaâ€™s Alejandro Alpizar struck his spot kick well wide of the goal.
Saprissa continued to put on waves of pressure in the second half, but DC was resilient in bending but not breaking until they were within 10 minutes of breaking Saprissaâ€™s decades old unbeaten streak at home.
It was a poorly cleared ball that was whipped back in that undid United as Alpizar headed it back across the face of goal forcing Pat Carroll to attempt a contorted clearing attempt that sent the ball back towards Unitedâ€™s goal and past the charging Wells. It appeared that Carroll saved the ball from crossing the line, but the rebound was smacked in by Cesar Elizondo to tie the game at one.
Then, in the 86nd minute, United keeper Zach Wells was again caught of two minds as Saprissa scored again to take the lead. A relatively innocent cross was rather casually palmed away by Wells right to Alpizar, his header struck off the crossbar and right to Elizondo to slot home for his second goal of the night.
But, United managed to salvage a tie in the dying moments of the match as substitute Marc Burch struck a lovely corner kick in injury time right to Rod Dyachenko to bundle into the net to complete the scoring at two apiece.
The tie does give United their first point in the inaugural CONCACAF Champions League, but essentially eliminates United from advancement. Cruz Azul, Saprissa, and Marathon all have 7 points now, so in order for United to advance, they would have to win their remaining two matches (in Mexico against Cruz Azul and at home to Marathon) to give them 7 points. Should Saprissa beat Cruz Azul and Marathon, then DC could possibly finish tied for second in the group at seven points, which would mean goal differential would be the deciding factor. However, that is exceedingly unlikely.