Chris Pontius’ return helps D.C. United advance in CONCACAF
WASHINGTON, September 24, 2014 – Everything fell into place for D.C. United in its 2-0 win over Panamanian club Tauro FC at soggy RFK Stadium on Wednesday night. United not only advanced to the quarterfinals of the CONCACAF Champions League with the result, but veteran striker Chris Pontius, starting his first game after an injury-plagued season, notched a confidence-boosting goal.
There was more good news for the high-flying club. Eddie Johnson, wearing protective head-gear after suffering a recent concussion and missing three games, added to the score with a well-taken goal.
With his eye on closing out the season in style, United coach Ben Olsen rested all of his recent key starters for the game and sent out a team of reserves and they mostly did the job.
Wearing the captain’s armband, Pontius made his first start of the season after being out with a hamstring injury. Pontius, the club’s oldest serving player and United’s leading scorer in 2012 with 12 goals, had an early header go wide after connecting with a fine cross from the right-flank from David Estrada. Then Estrada saw a header go wide.
United’s best chance in the first half came when Jared Jeffrey ripped a shot of the post.
In the 43rd minute, Tauro FC finally saw some light through United’s tight backline. United defender Conor Shanosky allowed Ismael Diaz to find space, and the striker thumped a shot against United’s bar. After the break Olsen sent out veteran defender Sean Franklin to replace Chris Korb. United soon got on the scoring sheet as Pontius headed home Samuel Inkoom’s cross from the right. The return of Pontius will certainly please Olsen as the club heads into its last five games of the regular season.
Johnson came on the field in the 53rd minute to replace Pontius and it wasn’t long before he fired home Estrada’s clever back-heel.
United qualified to play in the Champions League after winning last year’s U.S. Open Cup in a season that saw the team earn just three league wins. This is the club’s first appearance in the Champions League since 2009-2010.
It’s been a good few days for Olsen who was rewarded with a new multi-year contract on Monday. The Eastern Conference leaders now face the Philadelphia Union at RFK on Saturday night.