WASHINGTON, D.C.– An ugly win is a win nonetheless.
And DC United will take it.
Playing for the third time in 10 days, DC United made some more adjustments, got goals from veterans Christian Gomez and Jaime Moreno – the 107th of his career – and used tired legs to hold off Chivas USA, 2-1 before 14,627 at RFK Stadium.
United coach Tom Soehn kept with a four-man back line of Josh Gros on the left, Bobby Boswell and Facundo Erpen in the center, and Bryan Namoff on the right, and except for a 73rd minute, fatigue-induced lapse from Gros that allowed Maykel Galindo to tally his third goal in five matches – to go along with two assists – United held firm.
After a scoreless first half in which Soehn said the team didn’t play well, United got their first lead of the MLS season three minutes into the second half.
Midfielder Ben Olsen crossed from the deep right corner into the center of the box, where energetic Guy-Roland Kpene – playing his second match of the season and getting his first start up top in favor of Luciano Emilio – flicked the ball in Gomez’s direction.
Gomez, who admitted after the match to having difficulty shaking aggressive man-marking, raised his right foot and swung it around a Chivas USA defender, and from 12 yards, beat Chivas goalkeeper Brad Guzan to the left corner.
Youth served United well throughout the match, getting a lively half from outside midfielder Justin Moose, who, though erratic, had the team’s best first half chance on a swerving 35-yard shot in the 17th minute that Guzan barely managed to hold. And, Moose threatened again in the 33rd minute on a half-shot, half-pass that Olsen was a half-step late connecting onto.
And, it was the youthful Kasali Yinka Casal – coming on for Moose to start the second half – that earned a penalty midway through the second half after getting taken down just inside the top left of the 18-yard box.
“I haven’t been afraid to use them,” Soehn said of the young players.
Moreno then used a cheeky chip to beat Guzan up the middle, as the Chivas USA goalkeeper dove to his left in vain to give United a 2-0 lead in the 65th minute.
But a weary United had trouble hanging on, as Chivas USA’s Galindo pulled one back.
Galindo dribbled around a tired Gros inside the box near the endline, cut back and then put a six-yard shot past a helpless Perkins.
Galindo was a handful, and appears to have a bright future in MLS after defecting from Cuba nearly three years ago. Galindo started his US soccer career with the Seattle Sounders of the USL First Division, leading them to a championship over Richmond in 2005.
United needed an alert performance from goalkeeper Troy Perkins, and it got one, as he had an eight saves and was early off his line to thwart other potential opportunities, though his distribution needs work.
Chivas USA came close on several other occasions – and had two early on. Galindo played John Cunliffe through and Perkins slid out near the top of the 18-yard box to block his effort. A minute later, Ante Razov got off a nice side volley in the 10th minute that Perkins saved.
Razov also had another close call on goal in the 70th minute, with his shot going off the crossbar.
Eleven minutes later, Perkins had to be alert to save Claudio Suarez’s open header at the back post from Razov’s cross.
Soehn said midfielder Brian Carroll has improved, winning a lot of balls for United in the midfield, but said he could distribute better, but said that other players have to show for the ball better as well.
Also, Soehn said the team will have to work on its service, and use the flanks more effectively, but he also praised the effort from a team he said was tired. He said the team is making baby steps, but moving in the right direction.
“The next two week stretch, you’re going to see who separates themselves,” Soehn said.
More locker room reaction upcoming…