D.C. United survived a late push from the Seattle Sounders and hung on for a 2-2 draw, enough to see them through as winners of the Carolina Challenge Cup for the fourth time in five years.United needed only a draw to win the title due to goal differential through the first two matches.
Fabian Espindola’s 8th minute penalty staked United to the early lead before a blunder from United goalkeeper Andrew Dykstra leveled the match at 1-1 in the 24th minute. Both teams were playing at a very high un-preaseason like pace and United nearly reclaimed the lead in the 30th minute. Cristian Fernandez’ perfect cross from the left flank met the forehead of Davy Arnaud but his header from 10 yards out went well over the goal.
After the restart United jumped all over the Sounders and deservedly took the lead in the 55th minute when Perry Kitchen volleyed home an Espindola corner kick. United continued to pile on the pressure but Seattle soon got back into the match and in the 63rd minute whenUnited-killer Marco Pappa leveled the match with a shot from his less preferred right foot inside the penalty area.
United had to hang on for the remaining 15 minutes of regulation after defender Cristian Fernandez was sent off for a rash tackle on Deandre Yedlin. Seattle poured forward and nearly got the game-winner in stoppage time when Andy Rose headed a cross towards the back post where Lamar Neagle somehow managed to miss the open goal from about 3 yards out.
United held on those last few minutes to take home their 4th title in 5 years. United won the tournament in consecutive years from 2010-2012 before deciding to play in Florida last preseason.
United had decided to rest both Eddie Johnson and Bill Hamid who were both carrying very minor injuries that will not keep them from the lineup next weekend.
United will open up their 2014 MLS season next week at home against the Columbus Crew at RFK Stadium at 7pm.