D.C. wins its first Carolina Challenge Cup
D.C. United captured their first-ever Carolina Challenge Cup on Saturday night by defeating the Charleston Battery 2-0 in the third and final match competition. United have competed in the preseason tournament five times, but this most recent installment marks the first time that the Black-and-Red have claimed silverware. Saturday's victory brings United's overall preseason record to 6-1-2, as Curt Onalfo's men have now won six consecutive exhibition matches.The team will aim to use this momentum in next week's regular season opener in Kansas City, a match that is sure to start on time thanks to today's positive news from MLS headquarters. United claimed maximum points during the Challenge Cup, defeating Real Salt Lake, Toronto FC and the tournament hosts en route to the title. More remarkably, 36 year-old club captain Jaime Moreno scored every goal for the Black-and-Red in the Challenge Cup. In fact, dating back to the club's win south of the border against Santos Laguna, Moreno has scored six goals in the last four matches. Two of those strikes came against the Battery, as Moreno registered sublime first-half goals that deflated the home side. In the 33rd minute, the captain made a run towards Charleston's near post during a corner kick, and the Bolivian made the Battery pay by glancing Christian Castillo's delivery past goalkeeper Reese Crowther. Until that point the home crowd had been very energetic, but the United faithful that made the trip to Charleston celebrated defiantly over their Coffee Pot Cup rivals following this strike.Just before the halftime whistle, midfielder Santino Quaranta was brought down in the area, and the center official immediately pointed to the penalty spot. There was no doubt as to who would take the spot kick, and Moreno chipped Crowther straight down the middle to give his side a two-goal advantage heading into the break. Although the captain came off at halftime for Danny Allsopp, the damage was done. Charleston found a few chances in the second half, but the Black-and-Red kept the ball out of Bill Hamid's net for the remainder of the evening. Perhaps the only thing more astonishing than Moreno's strike rate during this preseason is United's defensive prowess. The club's first unit has only conceded two goals in nine matches, the first coming in the eighth minute of the team's first preseason match, and the second was a penalty kick against Real Salt Lake in the opening match of the Challenge Cup. True to his word, Onalfo promised to overhaul United's defense, and so far the Black-and-Red have looked organized and determined at the back. Though the club started slowly, once the players found their legs towards the end of their time in Bradenton, Fla., the team began to appear fully synchronized. Now the side passes with a metronomic sense of purpose, and although Moreno has been finishing the club's scoring chances, these goals have been created by multiple outlets. This attacking rhythm has been complimented by stingy defending, and the club looks determined after capturing their first trophy of the season heading into MLS play.