WASHINGTON - D.C. United have been taking care of business in league play all year. On Wednesday evening at RFK Stadium, they continued to take care of it in the CONCACAF Champions League as well.
United booked their spot in the competition’s quarterfinals, riding goals by Chris Pontius and Eddie Johnson to a 2-0 victory over Panamanian side Tauro. The loss dashed Tauro’s slim hopes of advancement from the group stage.
Playing under a steady drizzle, United were dominant in the game’s opening 45 minutes. Tauro – who have now lost their last eight CCL matches – saw very little of the ball. David Estrada and Pontius nearly gave DC the lead just 11 minutes in when Alex Caskey whipped a ball across the face of goal. Pontius’ driven header, however, missed the far post by inches.
Caskey took another swing at opening the scoring nine minutes later when he swung another cross into the area, this one inadvertently finding Tauro defender Christian Lopez three yards from goal. A last-second intervention by a fellow defender saved Lopez’s deflection from being an own goal.
United’s barrage continued: In the 38th minute, Pontius – making his first start of any kind since late 2013 after recovering from a hamstring ailment – tapped a free kick for Jared Jeffrey, whose blistering attempt from 25 yards clanged loudly off the near post.
Against the run of play, Tauro struck some woodwork of their own three minutes later when midfielder Ismael Diaz’s dipping shot went over the outstretched arms of United keeper Joe Willis and smacked off the crossbar.
DC found the correct side of the post in the 48th minute. Ghanaian international Samuel Inkoom played a picture-perfect cross into the penalty area. Pontius was there and made no mistake with the service, powering a header past Tauro keeper Erick Hughes.
In the 53rd minute, Johnson – a second-half sub playing his first match in three weeks – doubled United’s lead, running onto an Estrada back heel and one-timing it off the crossbar and into goal. The strike was Johnson’s second tally in as many games in the tournament.
United will resume league action when they welcome the Philadelphia Union to RFK this coming Saturday afternoon. They will travel to Panama for their final CCL match on October 21st – a rematch against Tauro – hoping to improve their goal difference and seeding for the quarterfinals.