Don’t pass go. Don’t ask questions. It is life on the road in the CONCACAF Champions League. The goal is to a grab a result and get home as fast as possible. For DC United in its CCL opener it was mission accomplished after a 1-0 win in Panama over Arabe Unido.
“I was pleased,” said head coach Ben Olsen who was not in Panama because of a CONCACAF red card suspension from last season. “It is all about finding a way to get points on the road and it was great opportunity for guys coming back from injury and some of the younger players.”
One of the younger players provided the game’s only goal. First round draft pick and rookie from the University of San Francisco Miguel Aguilar scored in the 85th minute to secure the full three points for United. Aguilar was part of a first eleven that included fellow rookie Luke Mishu along with United academy product Jalen Robinson.
The game was fairly even in possession, but United had seven corner kicks and more shots on target (6-4).
With Olsen back in D.C., assistant coach Chad Ashton was in charge and he noted:
“I think it was a good game, a hard fought game. They have a very athletic team that is very dangerous and we feel fortunate to be able to come down here and get a result. We have a very long season, including Champions League this past March, so it was important to able mix in more players and still get a result.”
- Michael Farfan impact. “I thought as the game went on the midfield found its way,” Ashton said. “We looked solid defensively in the first half and then Michael Farfan added an offensive dimension for us in the second half that resulted in the goal.” It was Farfan who came on in the second half as a substitute and used a clever back-heel pass to feed a through ball to Aguilar for the game-winning finish. Farfan is just coming back from a hamstring injury. Last Thursday against New York City FC Farfan played 26 minutes, but before that had not featured in a game since May 23.
- Solid in goal. Andrew Dykstra was in goal for United and against an aggressive Arabe Unido side he was forced to make four saves. Dykstra’s denial of an effort by Armando Polo in the 12th minute prevented the home side from gaining early confidence.
- Rested for the weekend. Second year player Steve Birnbaum was the only regular starter to play. Birnbaum was joined on the backline by Jalen Robinson, Luke Mishu and Kofe Opare. The midfield featured Miguel Aguilar and Chris Pontius on the flanks with Markus Halsti and Jared Jeffrey in the middle. Up front Facundo Coria played underneath Jairo Arrieta.