Concerns about D.C. United's preparedness for its CONCACAF Champions' Cup quarterfinal opener in Tegucigalpa, Honduras, last night were put to rest with several spectacular goals during a surprising 4-1 victory over Olimpia.
Christian Gomez, the 2006 MLS most valuable player, struck in each half, Brazilian forward Luciano Emilio, a former Olimpia player, scored the go-ahead goal just before halftime and Facundo Erpen added a late header to give United a huge advantage heading into the second, and final, leg of the total-goals series March 1 at RFK Stadium.
"It's a very good result in our first test," first-year coach Tom Soehn said. "I was very impressed."
United, just three weeks into preseason training, had never won a competitive match in Latin America and was facing a team in midseason form. United's fitness issues were evident at the start and the club was a step behind in the run of play.
But Gomez pushed D.C. into the lead in the 30th minute, pulling the ball back from a defender and sending a 25-yard shot into the upper far corner.
Olimpia got even four minutes later on Juan Manuel Carcamo's powerful five-yard header past Troy Perkins, but in the waning moments of the first half, Josh Gros connected with Emilio with a low cross from the left side. Emilio, a prolific scorer in the Honduran league for several years, made a near-post run and used a clever, left-footed touch to direct the ball into the far corner.
Olimpia threatened repeatedly at the beginning of the second half, but once again Gomez interrupted with a superb strike. It came in the 60th minute after Emilio's attempt was blocked at the top of the box. Gomez took possession, made one touch into space and then ripped a low 20-yarder into the right corner for a 3-1 lead.
Erpen added a 10-yard header off Ben Olsen's corner kick in the 83rd minute.
"For a starting point, in an intimidating atmosphere against a good team, I'm pleased," Soehn said. "We did some nice things."
· PUNTARENAS 1, DYNAMO 0:Kurt Bernard scored during second-half stoppage time to lift the host Costa Rican club over MLS champion Houston, which lost starting goalkeeper Pat Onstad to a first-half leg injury and defender Eddie Robinson to a second-half red card. Game 2 is March 1 in College Station, Tex.
· EUROPEAN CHAMPIONS LEAGUE: Liverpool rallied for a 2-1 victory at defending champion Barcelona in the second round of the European Champions League, and Inter Milan was held to a 2-2 tie by visiting Valencia.
In a matchup of the last two winners of Europe's most prestigious club competition, Craig Bellamy scored in the 43rd minute and set up John Arne Riise's goal in the 74th after Deco had given the home team a 14th-minute lead.
Bellamy celebrated his goal with an imaginary golf swing. Media reports said he had been fined about $155,000 after allegedly attacking Riise with a golf club during an alcohol-filled night in Portugal last week.
Inter took leads on goals by Esteban Cambiasso in the 29th and Maicon in the 76th, but Valencia came back on goals by David Villa in the 64th and David Silva in the 87th.
Chelsea gained a 1-1 tie at Porto, the former club of current Chelsea Coach Jose Mourinho.
Raul Meireles scored on a volley for Porto in the 12th minute while Chelsea captain John Terry was off the field getting treatment for a calf muscle injury, but Andriy Shevchenko tied it four minutes later off a feed from Arjen Robben.