CHARLESTON, S.C. – The Chicago Fire created the better of the opportunities, but D.C. United Designated Player Hamdi Salihi was clinical with his lone chance, giving Ben Olsen’s side a 1-0 victory at Blackbaud Stadium in the opening game of the Carolina Challenge Cup on Saturday evening.
Salihi, who struggled to get involved in the first half as the Fire bossed proceedings, latched onto a ball over the top from Ethan White in the 66th minute and struck an ambitious, first-time shot from just inside the corner of the penalty area. Jay Nolly got a touch, but he couldn’t keep the ball out of the back of the net, as United’s newest DP got on the scoresheet in his first action for the club. Dwayne De Rosario played the first 58 minutes before coming off for Conor Shanosky.
The Fire had an opportunity to open the scoring as early as the fourth minute after Dejan Jakovic took down Patrick Nyarko from behind in the penalty area, but Joe Willis dove low and to his right to save Pavel Pardo’s penalty kick. Pardo played all 90 minutes for the Fire, and picked up where he left off at the end of last season.
Nyarko was active in his 30 minutes of action as well, and Dominic Oduro caused problems all night for the D.C. back line, which found his speed and runs difficult to cope with. He came closest to scoring for Chicago, but his left-footed shot hit the underside of the crossbar and back into play.
Fire midfielder Sebastian Grazzini did not play because of illness and defender Cory Gibbs was unavailable because of an undisclosed injury on Saturday night. D.C. United midfielder Branko Boskovic was given the night off.
DC -- Hamdi Salihi (Ethan White) 66
DC -- Marcelo Saragosa (caution) 30
CHI --Dan Gargan (caution) 44
DC -- Emiliano Dudar (caution) 50
CHI -- Rafael Robayo (caution) 52
CHI -- Jalil Anibaba (caution) 77
D.C. United -- Joe Willis; Robbie Russell (Chris Korb 78), Brandon McDonald (Ethan White 46), Dejan Jakovic (Emiliano Dudar 46), Daniel Woolard (Guilherme 75); Andy Najar (Danny Cruz 78), Stephen King (Ryan Richter 88), Marcelo Saragosa (Lance Rozeboom 46), Chris Pontius (Nick DeLeon 71); Dwayne DeRosario (Conor Shanosky 58), Hamdi Salihi (Maicon Santos 68)
Chicago Fire -- Jay Nolly, Dan Gargan (Tony Walls 82), Jalil Anibaba, Austin Berry (Kwame Watson-Siriboe 76), Gonzalo Segares (Hunter Jumper 76), Pavel Pardo, Rafael Robayo (Kheli Dube 76), Logan Pause, Daniel Paladini (Corben Bone 76), Patrick Nyarko (Federico Puppo 32), Dominic Oduro (Mike Videira 82)