It was a monumental day for Major league Soccer. The 10th season was kicking off with the four-time champion taking on a unique expansion team. The culture of Mexican soccer arrived in MLS in spectacular fashion, complete with Mariachis, a menudo concession stand and thousands of raucous fans - all wearing red and white stripes. To cap it off, the entire spectacle was taking place in the crown jewel of American Soccer venues, the Home Depot Center. Unfortunately, the game didn't live up to the atmosphere.
D.C. United's 2-0 road victory was a very good opening day result, as it's hard to forget how much the Black-and-Red have struggled away from RFK Stadium over the past two seasons. But the win for D.C. didn't come from the expected beautiful flowing soccer. For once, D.C. United was content to let their opponent keep a lot of possession and wait for counterattack opportunities, and thankfully for D.C., the attack of Club Deportivo Chivas USA left a lot to be desired as nearly every attempt on goal was off target. Although they lacked their usual energy and enthusiasm, United put forth just enough to make sure the win was never really in danger.
A pair of well-timed bursts of energy led to the two goals for D.C. United. In the 32nd minute, it was a 70-yard overlapping run from Brian Carroll. He sprinted around Jaime Moreno who played the ball to him in stride. It looked like Carroll was about to score his first MLS goal, but instead he passed to Joshua Gros for a clean finish.
The second half goal was set up by Peter Nowak's first substitute, Santino Quaranta. Fresh off the bench, Quaranta used speed, skills, and strength to get past one defender, elude another, and bulldoze a third before getting the ball to Christian Gomez for a feathery chip over the helpless keeper.
The result was ideal even if the overall performance from the defending champions was not. Most likely, D.C. United was not conserving energy vs. Chivas USA, but if they had been who could blame them? D.C. will have to play five matches in 14 days, including both legs of the Concacaf Champions' Cup against the two-time defending Mexican Champion Pumas UNAM. United will need a much more spirited effort to earn a positive result versus Pumas. D.C. has earned the benefit of the doubt as defending champs; so maybe the coaches and players know exactly how much effort is inadequate and how much is just enough. Assuredly, just enough won't be on Wednesday at RFK Stadium in leg one of the Concacaf Champions Cup Semifinals.