[MLS PRESEASON: Carolina Challenge Cup] It’s a long road back to respectability for D.C. United after it set a league mark by winning just three games in 2013, so winning a preseason title has to be taken in context. Still, by tying Seattle, 2-2, in its final game in the Carolina Challenge Cup, D.C. wound up in first place ahead of the Sounders on goal difference.
Fabian Espindola converted a penalty kick for United’s first goal and sent over a cross that Perry Kitchen volleyed home for the second. Though Seattle equalized twice, and D.C. lost defender Christian Fernandez to a red card in the 76th minute, D.C. held out to secure the point and top spot among the four participating teams with a record of 1-0-2 and a goal difference of two. United hadn’t won a preseason game prior to beating Houston, 2-0, in its CCC opener a week ago. On Wednesday, it tied host Charleston, 1-1.
Seattle, which got its goals against United through newcomers Kenny Cooper and Marco Pappa, finished second with the same record as United but a goal difference of plus-one. Both Cooper and Pappa netted for the first time in the preseason for Seattle, which finished preseason with a 6-0-3 record despite the absence of Clint Dempsey, who played the last two months on loan to Fulham of the English Premier League.
Houston beat the host Battery, 2-0, in the Saturday finale to finish third with a 1-1-1 record. Charleston finished fourth at 1-2-0.
After a scoreless first half, Tony Cascio -- playing on loan this season from Colorado -- headed home a cross from Ricardo Clark in the 53rd minute. Ten minutes later, Gilles Barnes tucked away a feed from close range following some nice combination play. Barnes and Cascio each scored five goals during preseason as Houston compiled a 7-3-1 record.
Dynamo defender Eric Brunner left the match late in the first half with a leg injury and was replaced by rookie A.J. Cochrane, the No. 16 overall pick in the 2014 MLS SuperDraft.
March 1 in Charleston, S.C.
Seattle 2 D.C. United 2.Goals: Cooper 23, Pappa 63; Espindola pen. 8, Kitchen 53.
Seattle -- Frei, Yedlin (Rose 78), Marshall (Scott 66), Anibaba, Remick, Neagle, Alonso, Evans, Pappa (Kovar 77), Cooper (Parsemain 77), Martins.
D.C. United --Dykstra, Franklin, Parke, Boswell, Fernandez, Arnaud, Kitchen, Silva (Neal 84), DeLeon (Porter 79), Espindola (Munoz 84), Doyle.
March 1 in Charleston, S.C.
Charleston Battery 0 Houston 2.Goals: Cascio 53, Barnes 63.
Charleston --Ramos (Shannon 46); Mueller (Ramirez 61), Falvey, Ferguson (Farmer 46), Wilson (Ruggles 74); Sanyang (Chang 71), Griffith, Savage (Portillo 61), van Schaik (Teos 74), Prince (Marini 63); Kelly (Cordovesi 54).
Houston --Hall; Sarkodie, Horst (Arena 84), Brunner (Cochran 41), Ashe; Driver (Lopez 50), Davis (Johnson 84), Clark (Chabala 86), Cascio (Ownby 84); Barnes (Cummings 79), Bruin (Sherrod 84).