Photo by USA Today Sports Images
By MITCHELL NORTHAM
WASHINGTON, D.C. — After a five-year absence from the tournament, D.C. United returned to the CONCACAF Champion’s League Wednesday night with a 1-0 win over Waterhouse F.C. in their first game of the group stage of the tournament.
It took just five minutes for D.C. United to take the lead, but they would hold it until the final whistle at RFK Stadium in front of a crowd of 3,300.
David Estrada received a long pass from Connor Shanosky and took possession down the right side, beating his man and carrying it into the penalty box. He played a smooth back pass to Eddie Johnson, who beat Waterhouse goalkeeper Richard McCallum with a shot over his head, connecting with the roof of the net for the game’s lone goal.
As the game wore on, chemistry issues for the unit made up of mostly reserves that Olsen trotted out were made very visible. D.C. United committed 21 fouls in the match and registered just three shots on goal.
“We were off a little bit with some of the patterns and the partnerships out there,” Olsen said. “But that’s normal when a team that hasn’t played together a lot out on the field.”
Estrada and Johnson played with each other last season for the Seattle Sounders, and Olsen saw tonight as an opportunity to re-unite a former bond.
“There’s a little bit of familiarity with them; I’m sure they passed it to each other a couple of times in Seattle,” Olsen said. “We worked all week to speed up some of the cohesion, some of the partnerships; we did a lot of pattern work, a lot of shape work, but it’s tough when you get into real games with guys that aren’t playing with each other week in and week out. “
In the 31st minute, Johnson found himself one-on-one with McCallum again, this time in a foot race with the goalkeeper, chasing after a long pass from Collin Martin. McCallum got there first by just seconds, knocking the ball away, notching another missed opportunity for the home team.
The second half was the same song and dance. On the offensive end, D.C. United struggled to muster up any cohesion, while on the defensive end, they stopped all efforts put forth from Waterhouse as the Jamaican side continued to try shots from distance.
“We watched some video and saw that they like to take long shots,” D.C. United goalkeeper Joe Willis said. “Pretty much anytime I saw someone dribbling inside our own half I was preparing for a shot.”
Perhaps the best chance of the night from Waterhouse was in the 63rd minute when Kenardo Forbes fired a shot-on-goal from about 25 yards out. A diving Willis was able to grab the shot heading towards the lower left corner.
“We pressed really hard in the last minutes,” Waterhouse F.C. head coach Anthony Patrick said. “(D.C. United) were closing up in front of the goal, so we had to take those long shots.”
Waterhouse fired 21 shots on the night, six of them on goal and six of them saved by Willis who has spent the majority of this season with D.C. United’s USL-Pro affiliate, the Richmond Kickers.
“I have so much confidence in Joe and he knows that,” Olsen said. “The back four and Joe played very well; credit them for getting the clean sheet.”
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