D.C. United's Collin Martin (pictured) in CONCACAF Champions League action against Waterhouse FC on August 20, 2014. (Photos: Linda Cuttone/Sports Vue Images)
WASHINGTON, D.C. -- While D.C. United held serve at RFK Stadium on Wednesday with a 1-0 CONCACAF Champions League victory over Waterhouse FC, the best news may have been its obvious ability to play better.
Starting an entirely different first 11 from that which defeated the Colorado Rapids here 4-2 on Sunday, D.C. (1-0-0, 3 points) won despite some indecision going forward and a couple of late nervy moments at the back. Eddie Johnson’s fifth-minute strike, his third career CCL goal, proved to be the difference.
“There’s a lot of room for improvement now, and we can play a lot better,” said United midfielder Lewis Neal. “And I think we could’ve made it a little easier for ourselves.”
While it’s expected that a team mostly of reserves would struggle to find to find continuity, Neal said that might’ve been compounded by Johnson’s early goal.
After the former Seattle Sounder thumped home David Estrada’s feed, Waterhouse seized the offensive initiative for stretches.
“I thought it hindered us a little bit, because up until that point I thought we were really good,” Neal said of the goal. “Started off really well, but then got the goal and sat back and let them take the game a little bit for part of that first half.”
Waterhouse outshot United, 21-6, although many of the Jamaicans’ attempts came from long distance.
A majority of Joe Willis’ six saves were routine. A full-stretch stop, however, was required to push away Juvaune Benjamin’s dipping effort in second-half stoppage time.
“It got a little hectic at times,” Willis said. “We knew they were going to be pushing forward. They were down a goal and it was late in the game. That’s what teams do. So, I think for the most part, we handled their pressure pretty well and were able to get out of it unscathed.”
Overall, United enjoyed good stretches of possession, but looked at times more intent on creating the perfect opportunity rather than putting the defense under more pressure.
Still, D.C. pulls even on three points with Waterhouse (1-0-1, 3 points) in Group 4, and could really put itself the driver’s seat with a win in the return fixture on September 16. That will be Waterhouse’s final match of the group phase, and a victory would do no worse than pull United even again with two matches in hand.
“It’s still kind of tough to go there and prepare for them quite yet,” said United coach Ben Olsen, whose team will play five times in the league before traveling to Kingston. “But we certainly think it’s a place we can still get a result in, and we’ll go down there with a team and try to accomplish that.”