The championship game of the Carolina Challenge Cup did not disappoint as D.C. United and the Seattle Sounders battled to a 2-2 tie, as the Black-and-Red claimed its fourth Carolina Challenge Cup due to goal differential tiebreaker.
The Black-and-Red came out of the gates ready to play in their final preseason match, creating several chances early in the game, one of which earned a penalty kick in the 8th minute. Nick DeLeon's cross attempt was deflected by the hand of a Seattle defender. Fabian Espindola took the penalty, with ease, for United and tucked it in the bottom left corner to give the team an early 1-0 lead.
In the 14th minute, United was back at it again with the familiar faces of Espindola and DeLeon, but this time Conor Doyle was in the mix. Doyle received the ball from DeLeon, and fired a shot from 20 yards out that was tipped just wide for the corner.
In the 24th minute, Seattle took the ball down the far sideline and crossed it in for Kenny Cooper who out jumped goalkeeper Andrew Dykstra to head in the game tying goal. The Black-and-Red created another dangerous chance in the 30th minute as Cristian Fernandez played a cross in to a wide open Davy Arnaud, but his header went high of the post. Dykstra came up big for United in the 38th minute with a diving save to tip the ball wide of the post, as the teams went in to half tied, 1-1.
United started the second half like it did the first, and came out firing on all cylinders. Espindola and Doyle were working well up top together, and after some nifty passing they earned a corner in the 53rd minute. Espindola struck a ball to the far post and Perry Kitchen was wide open as he blasted a shot with his right foot, that was too much for the keeper to handle, and the Black-and-Red took a 2-1 lead.
Over the next 10 minutes, United looked very aggressive and dangerous, but couldn’t capitalize the opportunities they were creating. In the 63rd minute, Seattle tied the game as Marco Pappa found himself open at the penalty spot and fired a shot into the bottom right corner to score the goal and tie the game at 2-2. The game saw numerous chances from both sides over the next 12 minutes, and while Seattle was on the attack, Fernandez took down DeAndre Yedlin from behind to earn a straight red card. With United down a man, Dykstra came up big with some key saves down the stretch to preserve the 2-2 draw, and ultimately earn the team its fourth CCC Championship.
With preseason in the bag, D.C. United returns to chilly DC tomorrow and will begin final preparations for the Home Opener (March 8, 7:00 p.m. at RFK). BUY TICKETS