D.C. United began their CONCACAF Champions League campaign in winning fashion on Wednesday evening, welcoming Jamaican side Waterhouse FC to a soggy RFK stadium for their group stage opener.
Eddie Johnson’s early strike would be enough to guide United to a 1-0 victory, leaving them tied atop Group 4 in CCL play.
Staring down the barrel of a busy slate of league matches, United fielded a lineup made up largely of reserve and bench players.
The only true starter in the match for D.C. was Johnson – presently serving a two-match suspension in league play – and the former Seattle Sounder would figure in United’s first goal just five minutes in. Center back Conor Shanosky struck a long ball towards United forward David Estrada on the left flank; Estrada’s driven ball across the box found Johnson in stride, and he did well to smash it into the roof of the net from seven yards out.
Waterhouse entered the match having surprised Panamanian side Tauro FC in their own group opener, but were clear underdogs from the start.
Still, they managed a few chances while weathering United’s attack and even controlled possession for stretches of the opening 45 minutes. Vincent Earle and Jermaine Anderson’s spinning attempts in the 17th minute were easily dealt with by United keeper Joe Willis, however, and Romario Campbell’s angled shot moments from the whistle also posed little danger.
Both teams started the second half tentatively, with neither opponent registering a shot on goal until Waterhouse’s Kenardo Forbes’ speculative effort in the 64th minute. Forbes would take another crack at equalizing three minutes from time, driving a shot from well outside the box just outside the near post. Midfielder Juvaune Benjamin had Waterhouse’s best chance at tying the match, a curling effort in second-half stoppage time that Willis did well to parry away.
It would be Waterhouse’s last scoring chance – D.C. seemed content enough to defend their lead, which they did through the final whistle.
United return to league play on Saturday when they travel to take on Sporting Kansas City on Saturday evening – they’ll pick things back up in CCL play on September 16th when they travel to Jamaica for a re-match with Waterhouse.
D.C. United lineup: Willis; Caskey, Opare, Shanosky, Attakora; Porter, Neal, Jeffrey, Martin; Estrada, Johnson
Waterhouse FC lineup: McCallum, Samuels, Taylor, Edwards Grey, Finalyson, Benjamin, Forbes, Howell, Anderson, Campbell, Earle