Join Now | 
HomeAboutContact UsPrivacy & SecurityAdvertise
Soccer America DailySoccer World DailySpecial EditionAround The NetSoccer Business InsiderCollege Soccer ReporterYouth Soccer ReporterSoccer on TVSoccer America Classifieds
Paul Gardner: SoccerTalkSoccer America ConfidentialYouth Soccer InsiderWorld Cup Watch
RSS FeedsArchivesManage SubscriptionsSubscribe
Order Current IssueSubscribeManage My SubscriptionRenew My SubscriptionGift Subscription
My AccountJoin Now
Tournament CalendarCamps & AcademiesSoccer GlossaryClassifieds
D.C. United tackles Guadalajara in rematch
by Ridge Mahoney, September 26th, 2007 7AM

MOST READ
TAGS:  international, mls

MOST COMMENTED

[COPA SUDAMERICANA] Make no mistake, regardless of what its MLS opponents may think, D.C. United regards itself as the league's flagship franchise, and considers international competitions like the Copa Sudamericana vital to its reputation. A matchup with Mexican club Guadalajara on Wednesday (8:30 pm ET, Fox Sports en Espanol) also provides a chance for revenge, because Chivas nipped D.C., 3-2, on aggregate in the CONCACAF Champions' Cup last spring.

"We believe we were better than Chivas, outplayed them down there and Troy [Perkins] had a bad night and we gave up two bad goals," says United president and CEO Kevin Payne. "We're very anxious to play them again."

After a 1-1 tie at RFK in the first leg, United lost the rematch, 2-1, in a heavy rain at Estadio Jalisco. Perkins let a long shot from Gonzalo Pineda slip through this fingers - literally - for the goal that decided the second leg and the series.

United blew a good chance or two also, so while Perkins took most of the blame, others were culpable.

Much has changed since that series, which was played at the tail end of the MLS preseason.

Coach Tom Soehn has melded Fred, who debuted for United in the second leg, with fellow attackers Jaime Moreno, Christian Gomez and Luciano Emilio into the league's highest-scoring unit (49 goals); given Clyde Simms a lot of time as the holding midfielder; traded defender Facundo Erpen for veteran Greg Vanney; and switched from a 3-5-2 system to a 4-4-2 formation while transforming college striker Marc Burch into one of the league's best left backs.

"He took a little time to clean up some of the things he did as a forward," says Soehn, who acquired Burch from Columbus for a third-round 2008 supplemental draft pick. "He was a little bit cute taking guys on in the wrong spots, but he's got a soccer brain and he adjusted his game pretty quickly and learned from mistakes. He's done very well up to this point."

United sits atop the overall league standings at 15-6-5, and hasn't lost a league match in two months. Its only defeats came against Houston and Los Angeles - on the road - in the SuperLiga after it tied Morelia (1-1) and beat Club America (1-0) in its group games against Mexican opposition.

Guadalajara, which is halfway through the Mexican league season and has a mediocre 3-3-3 record, swapped strikers over the summer.

Gone is Adolfo "Bufo" Bautista, who scored the first goal against United in the second leg. In is Omar Arellano, who before leaving Pachuca helped it win the Mexican Clausura, CONCACAF Champions' Cup, and yes, Copa Sudamericana.

Mexican teams have performed well in the Sudamericana since they were first allowed entry two years ago. Pachuca won it last year, and UNAM lost the 2005 final in La Bombonera to Boca Juniors on penalties, 4-3, after the two legs ended, 2-2.

Arellano has just one goal in a sputtering attack that scored only seven times in nine Apertura matches. During a 1-0 loss at Toluca Sunday, two Guadalajara players were ejected and Omar Bravo failed to convert a penalty. Its defense, however, leads the league with six goals conceded and has shut out four opponents.

United is playing Guadalajara in the round of 16 of a competition that started with 34 teams from the 10 South American nations and Mexico. D.C. is the only MLS representative and bears the scars of its Sudamericana experience two years ago, when it led Universidad Catolica 2-0 (3-1 on aggregate) early in the second leg but succumbed to a Catolica rally in Santiago to go out, 4-3. Catolica reached the semis, beating Brazilian club Fluminense in the quarterfinals, before Boca knocked it out.

Bryan Namoff, Josh Gros, Brian Carroll, Christian Gomez, Jaime Moreno and Olsen all played against Catolica in that series. (Clyde Simms and Perkins were non-playing subs.)

"I just think we have the ability to go down into South America and get results," says Payne. "We still have pretty bitter memories of our game in Catolica. We had some young players on the field that let us down a little bit in that game, and if we have that opportunity with this group you'll see a different result."

Getting past Guadalajara is just the first step, yet in the head-to-head hierarchy of club clashes between the border rivals, it ranks highly.

Unlike the SuperLiga, the CONCACAF Champions' Cup and Copa Sudamericana tournaments require foreign visits, and few teams are as passionately supported as Guadalajara. By refusing to employ non-Mexican players it stands as a symbol to the nation as well as its own fans.

By taking on foreign clubs with great traditions, D.C. hopes to strengthen its own stature.

"We been through these and we haven't done well in situations when we had leads and we were the better team," says Olsen. "It's time that this team takes care of some business. We have an experienced team, we've got guys that have been through it, we've got some stars. This is a pretty exciting team right now."



No comments yet.

Sign in to leave a comment. Don't have an account? Join Now




AUTHORS

ARCHIVES
FOLLOW SOCCERAMERICA

Recent Soccer America Daily
Klinsmann: 'We did a lot of good stuff'    
The USA's 3-2 loss at Denmark on Wednesday gives Coach Jurgen Klinsmann's team a post-2014 World ...
TV Report: ESPN3 will air 120-plus NASL games    
ESPN3 will carry a minimum of 120 North American Soccer League games during the 2015 season, ...
Road to Russia: Heroics from U.S. collegians and prep star    
Heroics by a pair of former U.S. college goalkeepers highlighted the start of the long World ...
MLS Week 4: Vancouver loses Manneh for Timbers' match    
Vancouver will be without young Gambian star Kekuta Manneh for Saturday's Cascadia Cup game against Portland ...
French Guiana stuns Honduras in Gold Cup playoff    
Not so fast yet on that USA-Honduras match to open the Gold Cup. French Guiana, which ...
World Cup on ESPN garners six Sports Emmy nominations    
ESPN received six Sports Emmy Award nominations for its coverage of the 2014 World Cup from ...
Rewind: Breaking down the USA's late-game collapses    
The USA continued its recent trend of late collapses with the worst one of all, blowing ...
Video Pick: Too much celebration proves costly    
Players from Mozambique club Ferroviario Maputo celebrated so much after scoring against Zambia's K-Stars they weren't ...
What They're Saying: Jason Kreis    
"I'm a huge fan of Xavi Hernandez. I think he would be a huge player in ...
Tulsa brewer handcrafts Roughnecks Pale Ale    
The USL's Tulsa Roughnecks will offer Roughnecks Pale Ale, brewed by Tulsa-based craft brewer Marshall Brewing ...
>> Soccer America Daily Archives