Early goal enough for United in CONCACAF Champions League opener

D.C. United’s return to the CONCACAF Champions League was a successful one as Eddie Johnson’s early goal held up in their 1-0 victory over Jamaican side Waterhouse FC last night at RFK Stadium.

The win for United puts them in a first place tie with Waterhouse FC at 3 points while Tauro FC of Panama sits at the bottom of Group 4 with zero points. United will play Waterhouse FC in Jamaica in two weeks before wrapping up group play with a home-and-home series with Tauro in September and October.

With United in the midst of a grueling schedule of 5 games in 15 days, head coach Ben Olsen changed out his entire starting X1 from Saturday’s 4-2 league win over Colorado at RFK. Johnson is the only nominal starter for Olsen’s squad to make the lineup and that had everything to do with Johnson serving a two-match suspension in league play.

That bit of misfortune benefited the Black-and-Red as they jumped out to an early lead in just the fifth minute. Conor Shanosky’s long ball over the defense of Waterhouse FC found David Estrada in stride. Estrada pulled back a pass right to the penalty spot where Johnson slammed the ball into the roof of the net just as the goalkeeper was coming out to snuff out the pass.

After that point the match devolved into a series of half-chances and near misses for both sides, with very little creativity being shown not surprisingly as United did have an entirely makeshift lineup on the field which included Nana Attakora and Alex Caskey manning the outside fullback positions.

United had multiple opportunities late in the match to extend their lead but settled for a stout defense in claiming their first win in the CCL since beating Marathon of Honduras 3-0 in the fall of 2009.

United now turns their attention to a very difficult trio of matches that begins with a Saturday/Wednesday road trip to Sporting Kansas City and the Los Angeles Galaxy respectively. Olsen’s gamble to go with mainly reserves has given his taxed squad an opportunity now to take points from two venues where points have been at a premium in recent years.

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