D.C. dances to Champions' Cup semis
Second-half strikes from Jamil Walker and Jaime Moreno separated by only four minutes sent D.C. United into the semifinals of the CONCACAF Champions' Cup, as they came from behind to claim a 2-1 victory against Harbour View FC on Wednesday night in Kingston, Jamaica.
United advance with a 4-2 victory on aggregate over the two-match quarterfinal series. United held a 2-1 advantage going into the game after defeating Harbour View last Wednesday at the Maryland SoccerPlex on goals from Alecko Eskandarian and Josh Gros.
Donald Stewart had put the home side on top when he headed home a free kick in first-half stoppage time. But two players making their first-ever appearances for D.C. pulled the contest level, Walker finishing a cross from Steve Guppy, whose signing with United was announced Wednesday. Moreno then notched the game-winner shortly thereafter, curling home a shot after receiving the ball from playmaker Christian Gomez.
"I just want to congratulate our team for their effort," D.C. United Peter Nowak said. "We might not have played the best, but we managed to win. We have a lot of work to do but we'll be ready for the next round of this cup."
Though D.C. held much of the possession in the early moments, Harbour View were dangerous going forward on the counterattack. The home side had a good opportunity when Jomo Gordon was put through from a good pass, but he put his attempt over Nick Rimando's crossbar.
The Jamaican side went ahead after Bryan Namoff committed a foul at the edge of the penalty area. On the resulting free kick, a loosely marked Stewart headed the ball into the net.
Nowak made one change at the break, inserting Walker for Eskandarian, then Guppy was injected 56 minutes in. The pair combined just a few minutes later to tie the match and restore United's one-goal lead on aggregate. The English veteran provided a pinpoint cross to a streaking Walker, who headed the ball into the net.
A combination more familiar to United fans sealed the result just four minutes later. Gomez made a streaking diagonal run into the Harbour View box, dribbling through several defenders before laying the ball off to Moreno. After a couple of quick touches, United's Bolivian veteran used his left foot to curl the ball into the far post.
D.C. United will face two-time defending Mexican champion Pumas UNAM in the
semifinals, who dramatically survived their quarterfinal series against CD
Olimpia of Honduras. The two clubs played to a 1-1 draw in the first leg,
then the teams traded first-half goals in Wednesday's return leg in Mexico
City to send the game into extra time. Just when it seemed as if the tie
would have to be decided by penalty kicks, Bruno Marioni's goal sent Pumas
through with a 3-2 aggregate victory.
Jonathan Nierman is a contributor to MLSnet.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Soccer or its clubs.