It only took nine CONCACAF Champions League group stage and two preliminary qualifying matches for D.C. United to notch their very first win in the international competition. Christian Gomez’ 14th minute penalty was all the Black and Red needed to get a bit more confidence going ahead of their next group match a week from Thursday at RFK Stadium against Marathon of Honduras.
After three matches played, United is firmly in third place with 3 points. A win over Marathon will make the remaining two group matches very interesting. United left about a half dozen starters back in Washington D.C., a combination of badly needed rest, injuries and suspensions. With that United only took 16 players down to Port of Spain and fielded yet another makeshift lineup that saw Clyde Simms in the back line of United’s 4-5-1 formation. Luciano Emilio was the target player with Gomez roaming freely all night just behind him.
Danny Szetela, Andrew Jacobson and Devon MacTavish all drew rare starts and their fresh legs were a big part of the improved performance from past weeks from the Black and Red. Aside from a ten minute spot of play from the home side late in the first half, United were in complete control of the match as Jebloteh were reduced to taking chances from the inordinate amount of free kicks given by the sketchy at best refereeing crew. A number of bizarre calls seemed to go against United all night long including the yet unseen this calender year call of six seconds of possession against United’s goalkeeper Milos Kocic. The resulting free kick was the worst of a terrible litter of poor free kicks from Jebloteh.
United got the games lone goal in the 14th minute when a Jebloteh defender clearly blocked a cross coming from Szetela through the penalty area. Gomez stepped up and easily beat the Trinidadian goalkeeper. While United didn’t create all that many chances outside of a few late ones as Jebloteh was pushing upfield looking for the equalizer, they did a more than credible job of keeping possession and forcing the home side to attempt to apply pressure to get the ball away from United. United obliged on a few occasions with their own bizarre turnovers but for the most part the midfield triangle of Rodney Wallace, Jacobsen and Gomez kept United in control from start to finish.
United has now ended their worst stretch of matches for the season after playing 10 games in 31 days and 4 different countries. Now they can get back to DC and get some proper training in (which they couldn’t do when they were playing every 3 days) and prepare for the stretch run of this competition as well as the highly important MLS playoff chase. United will face Marathon of Honduras on Thursday, Sept 24th at RFK. Three days later they get back into MLS play against the San Jose Earthquakes at RFK and then face Jebloteh again on Wednesday, September 30th.
– Bryan Namoff, Jaime Moreno, Josh Wicks, Ben Olsen, Santino Quaranta, Marc Burch, Dejan Jakovic and Fred were all left back in Washington.
– Ty Shipalane made his United debut subbing in for Emilio in the 78th minute and should have scored in the 90th when he was all alone in front of net, courtesy of a fine individual move from Gomez
– Milos Kocic got a rare start and has yet to taste defeat this season wearing the Black and Red goalkeeper jersey. Interesting…………