D.C. United needed just one point at home against Arabe Unido on Tuesday night, and Conor Doyle ensured United of that by scoring within 35 seconds, as United won 2-0. Jared Jeffrey added a second goal later on in the first half, as the Black-and-Red ensured passage into the CONCACAF Champions League quarterfinals with the win.
Ben Olsen fielded mostly the same lineup as the one used in the win over Montego Bay last month, with Doyle and Steve Birnbaum starting over Markus Halsti and Miguel Aguilar. The decision to start Doyle paid dividends immediately, as he scored his a CCL goal for the second game running.
Arabe came in needing a win to stay alive, but before the juices started flowing, they were already down a goal. Birnbaum was given all sorts of room to operate in the midfield before picking out Chris Pontius on the left. Pontius whipped in a cross looking for Jairo Arrieta, but the ball carried past him to Doyle all alone at the far post, allowing the ex-Derby County man to slam home 35 seconds into the match.
It appeared that La Furia Colonense came ready to attack, needing a win, but they spent most of the half firing rashly from distance, hardly testing Andrew Dykstra in goal. Abdiel Arroyo did create a moment of concern after skipping past a couple of challenges, but his cross inside the box was deflected out.
Arrieta wasted an opportunity on a clean breakaway after getting played in behind by Facundo Coria, but Jeffrey netted United's second soon thereafter. Pontius had a cross that was deflected out for a corner, and Coria's in-swinger found a wide open Jeffrey at the far post for an easy header past goalkeeper Miguel Lloyd.
The lone long range effort that made Dykstra work came from Renan Addles in the 35th minute, but with Dykstra at a full stretch the ball sailed wide of the post.
United had two penalty claims that were turned down by referee Sherwin Moore in the second half, much to the dismay of Olsen. Luke Mishu, in a rare foray forward from his left back position, appeared to be tackled from behind in the box by Rigoberto Niño. Coria was clipped in the box without any call a few minutes later, as Moore made clear that he was going to be unusually lenient on the night.
Arabe Unido did hit the woodwork twice in the second half as they looked to try to find some way to get the win they required. Addles hit the bar from 35 yards out on a booming free kick, while Abdiel Macea - or possibly Doyle attempting to clear? - hit the bar after United couldn't deal with a bouncing corner in the box.
Pontius tested Lloyd early on in the second half from a chipped Michael Farfan free kick, and then Coria tried his luck from range after dancing free with some nifty footwork only to be denied by a diving Lloyd. Arrieta had a chance to increase United's lead late on, after working his way into the box from near midfield, but Lloyd was again smart enough with the save.
Doyle nearly added a third for United after a well worked move in stoppage time, but his roller was right at Lloyd.
United, winners of Group H, head to Montego Bay next week to play their final group stage game. The Black-and-Red return to MLS play this weekend, hosting the Columbus Crew at RFK Stadium.