Emilio, United finding their groove in CCL
WASHINGTON -- Their opponents had a worn, beleaguered look about them, having taken an epic journey merely to exit their homeland in the midst of the political strife that prompted the closure of Honduras' international airports this week.But there was precious little pity or compassion on offer from D.C. United at RFK Stadium on Thursday night, as they took full advantage of CD Marathon's trying circumstances in a 3-0 CONCACAF Champions League win that hands the MLS club the inside track on a berth in the tournament's quarterfinal round."Let's be honest, they had a long couple days getting here. Unfortunately for them, they weren't 100 percent," said United veteran Ben Olsen afterwards. "But we've played teams that weren't 100 percent in the past and we haven't taken advantage of it. It's important when you do get these chances, when you play a team that's down on their luck a little bit, to really punish them and we did that tonight."The home side played a cat-and-mouse game with their Central American visitors and should have been several goals to the good by halftime, only to sharpen their edge in the second 45 minutes as a Luciano Emilio double combined with Jaime Moreno's predatory strike to send the Black-and-Red on their way. After missing several inviting chances early on, Emilio's persistence was eventually rewarded and he expressed his gratefulness in the postgame press conference."It was very difficult for me, because I missed, I think, two or three opportunities in the first half. But I'd like to say thanks to Tommy for the confidence -- he could have took me out after the first 45 minutes," said the Brazilian frontrunner. "The guys gave me a lot of confidence, too, everybody pushed me up. I think it was a good reaction on my part and I thank my teammates for the support."The result goes some way towards avenging United's three consecutive Champions League losses to "El Monstruo Verde" dating back to last season's group round. After suffering through a crowded stretch of 10 matches in 31 days, D.C. enjoyed a welcome layoff after last Tuesday's CCL win against San Juan Jabloteh, time that head coach Tom Soehn and his staff tried to use to full effect."We had a little while to prepare -- it almost felt like a month compared to what we've been going through. You could feel that there was a little more energy from our guys," said Soehn."I think over this course of so many games we've created some bad habits, where we haven't been using our width. Not being able to work on it in training and not having the time to deal with it has been difficult. So we had a week to really focus on the strengths of stretching the field and changing the point of attack. Today I saw a real difference in that."Marathon and their fans could hardly be blamed for pointing to the team's draining itinerary -- a long bus ride across the border to Guatemala City, followed by hours of flight time to reach Washington, D.C. in the wee hours of Tuesday morning -- as extenuating factors for their performance, and there seems to be no end in sight as their domestic league's schedule has been suspended until further notice."We're not going to go back to Honduras until Monday -- there is no flight availability, apparently," said Marathon coach Manuel Keosseian. "We weren't going to play this weekend anyway, so we're just going to rest here in the U.S. and prepare for the next match when they tell us that we're going to be able to play."Yet D.C. have endured their share of exhausting road trips over the past year-and-a-half and Keosseian's counterpart offered little in the way of moral support, especially after the match ended on an ill-tempered note thanks to a late brouhaha between Moreno and Marathon midfielder Mario Berrios."At this point, I don't feel sorry for them at all," said Soehn afterwards. "I feel like it's a little payback -- welcome to our life."