D.C. United has seen its fair share of eclectic events in the Champions League through the years, be it appearances from players like Craig Thompson, or goalie appearances in road games from field players like Quavas Kirk, so they could possibly be forgiven for not remembering the last time they were in this international competition for CONCACAF-based club. Still, the Black and Red played with a second choice squad (with a player or two starting out of his natural position) against Jamaican club Waterhouse F.C. and managed to hold them off 1-0 in a largely dour affair in front of 3,330 at RFK Stadium.
D.C. came out with the purpose of scoring first to put Waterhouse on their heels, doing precisely that as a long ball from Conor Shanosky was run onto by David Estrada, who crossed the ball in front to Eddie Johnson, who roofed the ball over Richard McCallum for an early 1-0 D.C. lead. Johnson was a recipient of boos when his name was announced during pregame introductions, but they turned to cheers shortly thereafter, and all in all had a solid night.
D.C. settled in and felt comfortable to counter Waterhouse in the moments after, though it was not without a shaky moment or two, such as a Kofi Opare clear that could easily have been an own goal in the 14th minute, and later Alex Caskey (going 90 minutes at outside back) stumbled and lost his man, but the subsequent shot was saved by Joe Willis. Waterhouse had occasional threats, but aside from a 23rd minute yellow card to Nana Attakora for a high...ish elbow to Jermaine Anderson's head, there was no serious test of the three-man backline in the first half.
The second half started much like the first ended, with D.C.'s passes in the middle and/or last third not connecting, while Waterhouse repeatedly shot from distances of at least 20 yards, and what shots did not go wide, Willis saved easily. An 89th minute free kick from Waterhouse caused the most anxious nerves in terms of position, but it was strangely (and predictably) shot straight at Willis for the save.
D.C. moves on to play a Sporting Kansas City side Saturday who may be slightly fatigued after playing most of their starters last night in a 1-1 draw at Real Esteli in Nicaragua.