Jabloteh win keeps United alive
When the United States defeated Trinidad & Tobago last week, the victory at Hasley Crawford Stadium moved the Americans a step closer to clinching a sixth straight World Cup berth and eliminated the Soca Warriors.D.C. United's 1-0 victory against San Juan Jabloteh at the same stadium in Port of Spain on Tuesday night didn't quite clinch a bid in the CONCACAF Champions League knockout stage, but it did keep United alive in Group B and all but eliminated Jabloteh."We're still in it," Clyde Simms said. "We knew if we got a win here, we definitely have a chance. We need to take care of business at home and hopefully get a good result in Mexico and we think we can still advance."In what was essentially an elimination game, D.C. secured its first-ever group stage win with Christian Gomez scoring the winning goal on a 14th-minute penalty kick. Gomez stepped to the spot after referee Trevor Taylor ruled Noel Williams handled a cross in the box after he slid in and tackled the ball away from Luciano Emilio. After a slight hesitation, Gomez beat Jabloteh goalkeeper Cleon John low and to the right of the keeper to give D.C. United a 1-0 lead on 14 minutes."I thought we defended well as a team," United coach Tommy Soehn said. "I thought our commitment to defending was solid. It's always difficult on the road and I thought we had a pretty good road mentality."Although it was far from a perfect game, D.C. did well recovering on defense after mistakes. Twice Julius James came up big and Milos Kocic was solid in the net."They played very direct and they have some guys with some pace that can hurt you," Soehn said. "And their set pieces -- we gave them a lot of opportunities on set pieces. They obviously have some big targets who caused us some havoc. But, overall, like I said, we definitely shored things up in the second half, we had a lull in the first half where they could have put some away. We were fortunate to come out of that stretch clean and, second half, we were much better, I thought."The result was especially gratifying considering D.C. played without several starters, some injured and others resting at home with United in the heat of a playoff race."It was a good team effort," Simms said. "There were some guys for us who don't normally get minutes getting good minutes and it was a good feeling to get the win. We got a little bit of a break coming up so it was huge to end this streak of games with a win."It was a special night for D.C. United defender Avery John, who was born in Port Fortin, Trinidad."It was great -- it was my first time coming back for a club game," John said. "It was a very hard game, it was an honest game. We did our job, we got a result, we defended well, we played as a team. They created some chances, but we also created probably the same amount of chances or better chances. But, the feeling to come back on home soil, play well and get three points was ... it's honestly a beautiful feeling."D.C. United now have three points in Group B and sit alone in the third place behind Toluca and Marathon, who play Thursday night and are tied with six points apiece. Without an MLS game this weekend, D.C. should be well rested for its next Champions League encounter -- at home against Marathon Sept. 24. D.C. will look to avenge a 3-1 loss on Aug. 18."Every result is important," Soehn said. "We've had a long stretch of games and we definitely needed to get a result in CONCACAF to keep us in it, so this keeps us alive. And now we have Marathon at home next week and we need to take care of business at home."