D.C. United has won its first two matches at the Carolina Challenge Cup and needs only a draw Saturday to win the title for the second consecutive year. For a club climbing from the depths of MLS in 2010, it’s a noteworthy accomplishment.

(Then again, United went 3-0-0 on Daniel Island in 2010, and we all know how the rest of the year unfolded.)

On Wednesday evening, United defeated the 10-man Chicago Fire, 1-0, while the host Charleston Battery edged Toronto FC, 2-1. With six points, United is three clear of Chicago and Charleston with one matchday remaining. DCU faces TFC at 5 p.m. Saturday. If United loses, the Fire or Battery could pull even with a victory over one another. The first tiebreaker is goal difference followed by goals scored, according to tournament officials.

My story in Thursday’s print edition looks at the match as well as where things stand with the club.

For bonus quotes, additional details and the lineup.....

Coach Ben Olsen: “I was fairly happy with the first half, and then you see a red card and it’s tough. We didn’t do as well against 10 men as we did against 11. I thought our commitment overall dropped when we went up a man. We didn’t move the ball as quickly as I would’ve liked. All the little things dropped, and that’s a little disappointing, but overall we’re trying to create a winning mentality.”

“We’re focused on the performance, not necessarily the results right now. Saying that, it’s still nicer to win. At the same time you’re evaluating a performance, you’re evaluating a team on a winning mentality. In the end, we got the results.”

With several regulars resting, Olsen experimented with trialist Brandon Barklage at right back, paired Stephen King and Kurt Morsink in central midfield and partnered Charlie Davies with rookie Blake Brettschneider, the goal scorer.

Davies was quiet but, Olsen said, contributed in small ways and showed an understanding in United’s system. Near the end, he blazed in for a breakaway, which was nullified by a questionable offside call. “That’s what he is going to do for us,” Olsen said. “His timing is still there as far as looking to get behind the back four. It’s a rare thing that people have, and he’s got that.”


GK Onstad (Willis 46th); Ds Barklage, White, Brasesco, Burch; MFs Quaranta (Najar 79th), Morsink (Kitchen 79th), King, Fred (Shanosky 69th); Fs Davies, Brettschneider.