A decidedly low-key setting didn't deter D.C. United, which ended a victory drought in the Concacaf Champions League group phase by beating San Juan Jabloteh, 1-0, Tuesday night in Port of Spain, Trinidad.
Christian Gomez's penalty kick in the 14th minute earned D.C. United the victory and moved it off the bottom of Group B. It had failed to win any of its matches in the group phase last year -- it only managed to tie one of its six games -- and opened this year's competition by losing, 3-1, to both Marathon (Honduras) and Toluca (Mexico). Jabloteh, pointless in three games, is in last place.
United left many of its regulars at home and took only 16 players for the match, played before a very small crowd - according to local reports -- at the same Hasley Crawford Stadium where the USA beat Trinidad & Tobago, 1-0, last week in the Concacaf 2010 World Cup qualifying tournament.
Referee Trevor Taylor called a handball on Jabloteh defender Noel Williamswhen he blocked a cross while sliding to dispossess Luciano Emilio. Gomez drilled his shot low past Jabloteh goalkeeper Cleon John to give D.C. a lead it would hold onto for the rest of match as keeperMilos Kocic and his teammates fended off numerous attacks.
Kocic twice stopped Lester Peltier on good scoring chances, and needed help from Trinidadian defender Julius James when Jason Marcano chipped him shortly before halftime. James, a recent acquisition from Houston, tucked in behind his stranded keeper to clear the ball off the goal line.
Peltier shot over the crossbar in the 60th minute, after which Emilio drilled a low shot narrowly wide of the Jabloteh goal. The hosts squandered two more chances late in the game when Devon Jamerson and substituteJerrel Britto both missed the target with headers from good positions.
D.C. has the weekend off from MLS play and returns to RFK Stadium Sept. 24 to host Marathon, which plays at Toluca Thursday.
Columbus and Houston resume their CCL group schedules Wednesday and both are on the road. The Dynamo plays at Pachuca (live on Fox Soccer Channel, 10 p.m. ET) and the Crew is in Costa Rica to play Deportivo Saprissa (delayed on FSC at 2 a.m. ET Thursday).
Sept. 15 in Port of Spain, Trinidad
San Juan Jabloteh 0 D.C. United 1.Goal: Gomez pen. 14.
San Juan Jabloteh -C.John, Lawrence, Hutchinson (Plaza, 71), Williams, E. John, Oliver (Britto, 62), Jamerson, Peltier, Guerra, Marcano (Glen, 84).
D.C. United -Kocic, A.John, McTavish, James, Simms, Jacobson (Raimondo, 69), Szetela, Wallace, Pontius, Gomez (Allen, 90), Emilio (Shipalane, 78).