D.C. United 1-2 Chivas – The Lights Go Out on D.C. United, Literally

2008 SuperLiga Group A: D.C. United 1-2 Chivas

Ed.’s Note: The match report is from Saturday night’s North American SuperLiga Group A match, but technical difficulties delayed the posting of the report.

The atmosphere at D.C. United’s RFK Stadium was one of a kind, with 22,453 fans in attendance for the teams’ first SuperLiga match. As the announcer announced the starting lineups, the jars of the song and drum reverberated through your heart. The teams walked out onto the field to a heavy round of cheers, and the game began.

D.C. United had the first chance in the early going, as Luciano Emilio came close in the eighth minute when his thunderous shot from the left channel went off the post. Chivas almost knocked the ball into their own net on the rebound, but it trickled wide.

Chivas, however, wasted no time in starting their attack, and they forced Zach Wells out of goal in the twelfth minute when a masterful throughball was almost slotted home by an onrushing Omar Riveron.

Chivas showed that they could quickly combine as well as playing throughballs. In the 17th minute, a clever dummy fooled the D.C. defense, and if not for a last-minute clearance, it would have been a goal for Chivas.

Wells, normally considered a defensive liability, stopped a long range drive in the 22nd minute to keep the score level. Wells was on top of his game the whole day, which gave D.C. a big boost.

In the 24th minute, D.C.’s timely clearances ran out as Riveron latched on to a throughball by Ramon Morrales, and ran around Wells; he then cleanly finished into the side netting to give Chivas a thoroughly deserved lead.

D.C. pressed on though, and Luciano Emilio thought he had ezualized in the 37th minute. He pushed back into the Chivas defender and the defender flopped in “agonizing pain” to the ground. The foul was called against Emilio, much to his bewilderment. Emilio thought he had put the home side back on level ground, and his claims were justifiable.

At halftime, United made a needed change, as Rod Dyachenko, who had failed to put his stamp on the game in the first half, was replaced by speedy forward Francis Doe.

D.C. showed that they were going to attack in the second half when a hand ball by Gonzalo Pineda gave DC a free kick from about 26 yards in the 48th minute. Marc Burch stepped up to hit it, but the ball sailed over the crossbar.

United continued to push for an equalizer and was gifted a deflected ball into the path of an onrushing Devon McTavish. McTavish calmly put the ball onto the post, the second time D.C. was denied in that fashion.

Chivas wasted no time and went down the field themselves, and only a one handed save by Zach Wells prevented Chvas from scoring just a minute later.

Then it was as if fate struck when D.C. was really starting to dominate.

A massive power outage put three quarters of the field into darkness and the teams convened on the side while the energy issue was sorted out. Although the lights went out, the fans didn’t stop cheering. The D.C. fans took this outage as a chance to show up the Chivas support and the noise output was epic. The players even became visibly annoyed and began showing off all of their juggling skills on the field. Slowly but surely however, the lights began to trickle back on. A voice from the speakers told the media that the lights took 15 minutes to re-heat, and sure enough, they came back on and re-illuminated the field.

Chivas used the outage to make a defensive minded sub, with Patricio Araujo coming in for Sergio Avila.

In the 67th minute, Edgar Solis made a incisive run down the flank and then crossed into the middle where Sergio Santana hammered by Wells. Chivas fans went berserk and five or six smoke bombs went off simultaneously. It was not to be though, as the replays showed that Santana handled the ball and pushed it by the defender. Santana also received the match’s first yellow card for handling the ball.

Chivas was awarded a free kick when a Chivas player was tripped up on a 50/50 ball, right outside D.C.’s box. They would live to rue the foul as Gonzalo Pineda sent a beautiful curling free kick into the top corner despite a diving attempt by Wells, making it 2-0 in the 72nd minute. Chivas fans started the victory chants much to the dismay of the D.C. fans. Chivas! Chivas! Chivas! they roared.

However, United got right back in the game. With his back to the goal, Luciano Emilio turned around a Chivas defender and then slotted the ball between the legs of onrushing keeper Ernesto Michel to make it 2-1 in the 76th minute.

D.C. came back again for the equalizing goal. Emilio ran onto a ball in the box and was hauled down by Jose Olvera. The referee made no mistake about it as he pointed directly to the spot, with Olvera also receiving a yellow card on the play.

Jaime Moreno (who hasn’t missed a penalty in four years) stepped up to take the penalty but Ernesto Michel was up to the task. He dived to the right and parried Moreno’s shot away and the Chivas fans began the victory chants again. D.C. United head coach Tom Soehn said after the game that, “With all the penalties he’s taken in his career, he’s going to miss one eventually.”

Chivas coach Efrain Flores then began the Italian technique of clogging the midfield, as he replaced two forwards with midfielders in an effort to jam the middle.

D.C.’s never give up attitude won them a free kick from the left channel in the 85th minute. Marc Burch’s delivery ended up in the hands of Michel, but only after a tense scramble in the box.

Chivas lived and died off the counter attack in the second half. Marco Fabian De La Mora almost put the game out of reach in the 87th minute when his point blank shot was saved by Zach Wells.

D.C. continued to press, virtually possesing the ball on the 18 yard box, but could not muster a shot to challenge Chivas and the game ended in a 2-1 victory for Chivas.

Chivas are the victors tonight, but D.C. midfielder Craig Thompson was still optimistic about their chances of advancing to the knockout stages. “We just got to put this one behind us, it’s over, we just got to concentrate on our next game…. If we win our next two games, we will advance so that’s what we’re looking at.”

Soehn lamented that they “lost the guy in the middle too much” and that hurt D.C.’s ability to control the possession and dictate the tempo of the game.

Both teams continue SuperLiga play on Tuesday. Chivas heads to Houston to play the Dynamo, who also got off to a winning start by defeating Atlante 4-0 in their opener, while D.C. looks to keep their qualification hopes fully alive when they face Atlante at RFK.

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