D.C. United Defeats Marathon of Honduras, 3-0, in CONCACAF Champions League Play
Friday, September 25, 2009
With each missed opportunity by slumping striker Luciano Emilio and his teammates in the first half at RFK Stadium, D.C. United saw its prospects of advancing in the CONCACAF Champions League grow dimmer. Though two group-stage matches remained after Thursday's night's encounter against Honduran club Marathon, United desperately needed to win by at least two goals to retain realistic hopes of reaching next year's quarterfinals.
D.C. did one better, scoring three times in the first 25 minutes of the second half to earn a 3-0 victory before an announced crowd of 5,280. Emilio scored less than two minutes after intermission, helped set up Jaime Moreno's goal in the 55th minute and finished a partial breakaway in the 71st.
"I would like to say thanks to Tommy for the confidence," Emilio said, referring to Coach Tom Soehn. "He could have taken me out after the first 45 minutes."
United and Marathon are tied for second place with 2-2 records in a four-team group that will send two teams to the knockout round. But United is ahead on the second tiebreaker: goals scored in two meetings between the teams (4-3). Both clubs will face Toluca of Mexico (4-0) and San Juan Jabloteh of Trinidad and Tobago (0-4) in their final matches.
Moreno received a red card in the final moments and will miss Wednesday's home game against Jabloteh. Defenders Avery John and Dejan Jakovic will serve yellow card suspensions, further depleting a defensive corps that has been without Bryan Namoff (concussion) and Marc Burch (ankle).
Marathon, which defeated United, 3-1, last month, showed visible signs of fatigue after a promising start and was overrun by a D.C. squad that attacked relentlessly and registered its largest margin of victory in all competitions this year (38 games).
Unable to use a Honduran airport because of political unrest, Marathon had to take a six-hour bus ride to Guatemala, endure a four-hour delay, fly to Miami and then connect to Washington. It didn't arrive at its hotel until about 18 hours before kickoff.
"Without taking anything away from D.C. United, Marathon only played 45 minutes," Coach Manuel Keosseian said through an interpreter. "The other 45 minutes were a valiant effort, but we really didn't have much energy. . . . We felt the wear and tear of the travel."
Marathon cannot return home until Monday because of limited flight availability. The political situation forced postponement of all Honduran league matches this weekend.
Conversely, United enjoyed a mostly tranquil nine days since its previous game, a 1-0 victory at Jabloteh that ended a 10-game winless streak in the Champions League the past two cycles.
Injuries and a suspension to playmaker Christian G?mez limited Soehn's options, but a makeshift back line of John, Lawson Vaughn, Clyde Simms and Julius James conceded few chances in the second half and Josh Wicks made three quality saves.
Knowing it needed to win by multiple goals, United emphasized the importance of scoring early. In the sixth minute, Chris Pontius headed to Emilio at the six-yard box but the Brazilian's ruinous touch sent a soft attempt wide.