On a cool night in Charleston, newly acquired Designated Player Hamdi Salihi notched the lone goal as D.C. United topped the Chicago Fire in the opening match of the 2012 Carolina Challenge Cup.
Under pressure from the opening whistle, United gave up a penalty kick in the fifth minute when Dejan Jakovic took down Fire striker Patrick Nyarko in the box. Facing a momentum-killing early deficit, second-year keeper Joe Willis saved the Black-and-Red, diving to his right before pushing away Pavel Pardo's effort from the spot.
D.C. remained under pressure for much of the first half, but managed to keep the game scoreless heading into the break.
United’s break through came in the 65th minute when substitute and Kensington, Maryland native Ethan White played a ball in over the top of the Fire defense to Salihi. With little space to operate, Salihi immediately looked to goal and hit a ball off the fingertips of Fire goalkeeper Jay Nolly. Quiet for much of the evening, Salihi proved his impressive European strike rate should translate successfully to the American game.
Chicago pressed forward late in the second-half in search of an equalizer, but Willis kept his clean sheet. Starting in place of Bill Hamid, who is in U.S. Olympic camp, Willis finished the evening with five saves.
United will face the Charleston Battery on Wednesday at 7:15 p.m. and round out the Cup on Saturday against the Columbus Crew at 5:00 p.m. Both games will be streamed live on dcunited.com
D.C. UNITED LINEUP:
Joe Willis; Robbie Russell (Chris Kord 78'), Brandon McDonald (Ethan White 46'), Dejan Jakovic (Emiliano Dudar 46'), Daniel Woolard (Guilherme [trialist 75']); Andy Najar (Danny Cruz 78'), Stephen King (Ryan Richter [trialist] 88'), Marcelo Saragosa (Lance Rozeboom 46'), Chris Pontius (Nick DeLeon 71'); Dwayne DeRosario (Conor Shanosky 58'), Hamdi Salihi (Maicon Santos 68')
Jay Nolly; Dan Gargan (Tony Walls [trialist] 82’), Jalil Anibaba, Austin Berry (Kwame Watson-Siriboe 61’), Gonzalo Segares (Hunter Jumper* 75’); Logan Pause (C), Pavel Pardo, Rafael Robayo (Corben Bone 75’); Daniel Paladini (Michael Videira 82’); Patrick Nyarko (Federico Puppo 32’), Dominic Oduro (Kheli Dube 75’)
- DC - Marcelo Saragosa (caution) 30'
- CHI - Dan Gargan (caution) 33'
- DC - Emiliano Dudar (caution) 50'
- CHI - Rafael Robayo (caution) 52'
- CHI - Jalil Anibaba (caution) 77'
- DC - Hamdi Salihi 66' (Ethan White)