A long suffering fan of Canadian soccer since 1971 when I started
attending games of the Montreal Olympique of the pre-Pelé NASL.
March 18, 2008
RFK stadium in Washington, DC is the only non soccer specific stadium in MLS that provides a great atmosphere for a soccer game.
Now that the Nationals Baseball team has moved into their own stadium, DC United has RFK to themselves.
This will mean a better playing surface for United. It will no longer be necessary to re-configure the field and to cover the baseball diamond. Even in Mid-March the field is in great shape.
To celebrate having RFK for soccer only, DC United has adopted the motto “Our House”, also a favorite chant of the TFC supporters groups last season. TFC fans will get to use this chant in the CONCACAF Champions’s Cup games in August if TFC gets by Montreal and Vancouver.
For tonight, RFK stadium was the site of the 2nd leg of the DC United and Harbour View Champion’s Cup match. Last week the teams tied 1-1 in Jamaica.
On a cool evening a crowd of 12,394 showed up for the game. The DC supporters groups, the Screaming Eagles and La Barra Brava kept warm chanting and singing through the whole game.
Harbour View entered the game without two of their starters. Kemeel Wolfe and Raflek Thomas were denied visas by US immigration and had to remain at home. DC United made only one change, Franco Niell replaced the injured Jaime Moreno in the DC lineup.
Breaking Down the Game
Three minutes into the game Richard Edwards of Harbour View was yellow carded for a foul. The foul resulted in a pushing and shoving on both sides and the assistant referees had to come on to the field to help restore order.
The diminutive Niell (5’4″) was very active in the attack. His size and speed will result in lot of fouls being called in his favour this season.
The only action for Harbour View was a weak shot on net by Jermaine Hue.
Advantage DC 0-0.
Harbour view showed some good ball movement, and looked to be establishing some mid-field domination. DC’s only chance came on a counter-attack by Emilio.
Harbour View picked up their second yellow of the game as Donald Stewart was carded at the 18 minute mark.
Advantage Harbour View 0-0.
Marcelo Gallardo was signed by DC as their first designated player in the off-season. In this segment of the game he showed why, Gallardo dominated play. He was fouled several times. In the end his well-placed free kick from 30 yards out was converted by Devon McTavish to give DC the lead.
Advantage DC 1-0
Harbour View re-gained some composure on defence after giving up the first goal. The best scoring chance was from another Gallardo free kick. He picked up his own rebound off of the wall and his blast was barely tipped over the net by the Harbour View goalie.
Play Even 1-0
Minutes 41-45 +1
Neill created the best chance of the final 5 minutes. Both teams seemed content to play out the half.
Play Even 1-0
For the second half United changed tactics and had their wingers playing a wider position. Harbour View started to use the off-side trap to try to counter the speed of United.
Gallardo earned an early corner with some aggresive play. Emilio put a header from inside the box just wide. DC started putting more pressure on the Harbour View defence.
On a counter-attack Harbour View had their best scoring chance with a fine save by Zach Wells keeping the sheet clean.
Advantage DC United 1-0
Emilio’s blast handcuffed the goalie, but no one was around to pick up the rebound. For Harbour View Jermaine Hue got off a long shot on net.
The quiet before the storm. The change in tactics became evident as constant DC pressure broke down the Harbour View defence. Emilio, the leading MLS scorer last season, picked up his first of the year with a blast from just inside the 18 yard box.
DC used their speed and smarts to break open the off-side trap of Harbour View.
Advantage DC 2-0
DC broke open the game with Devon McTavish and Luciano Emilio both scoring their second goal of the game. McTavish had never scored a professional goal in three seasons, he now has three in the two game series.
Advantage DC 4-0
With the comfortable lead, DC sat back and allowed Harbour View more space to move the ball around. Neither team mounted much offence.
Play Even 4-0
Minutes 86-90 +1
DC again picked up the pace in the final minutes. Emilio broke through the defence but was stopped on a strong challenge from the keeper.
A few minutes later, Fred broke the off-side trap and walked in for an easy goal.
Advantage DC 5-0
DC United won the two game total goal series 6-1 and advance to play the winner of the Pachuca CF (Mexico) and CD Motagua (Honduras) quarter-final match which will be played on Wednesday.