D.C. United sadly outclassed in Costa Rica

Fabian Espindola scored one goal and set up another, but the rest of D.C. United’s lineup looked sadly outclassed as Alajuelense inflicted a 5-2 thumping in the first leg of their Scotiabank Concacaf Champions League quarterfinal on Thursday.

Bill Hamid
, the 2014 MLS Goalkeeper of the Year, was an injury scratch, and he was dearly missed in goal. He has been nursing a shoulder injury that kept him out of the national team's January camp but he had played for United as recently as in the ATX Pro Challenge final against FC Dallas 10 days ago.

Andrew Dykstra, Hamid's replacement, had started in United's most recent friendly, a second match at FC Dallas last Friday, but he had not played a competitive match since last July after rupturing his Achilles.

Ariel Rodriguez converted a penalty kick in the 15th minute and Jose Ortiz doubled the lead eight minutes later. United got on the board when a long kick by Dykstra was headed by Chris Pontius to Espindola, who nodded it over Dexter Lewis in the Alajuelense net, but Dykstra quickly gave the goal back when his fumble of a low cross left the ball loose for Johan Venegasto tap into the net.

Ortiz blasted a shot past Dykstra in the second half to up the lead to 4-1. Birnbaum surged forward to drill home an Espindola cross in the 88nd minute but Alajuelense came right down the field to add a fifth by Jonathan McDonald, one of several attackers who tormented the D.C. defense throughout the match.

After the match, Olsen admitted Dykstra was put in a tough spot.

“I won’t sugarcoat this, and my goalkeeper won’t sugarcoat this: [Dykstra] had a bad night,” said Olsen. "What you guys don’t know is that he’s been out for seven months and we rushed him back several weeks ago. Our starting keeper went down and we had to use him today. He was out of rhythm and he wasn’t sharp. This is pretty normal when you have to rely on guys that are coming back from injury and have been out for almost a year, this is a normal thing. He is a very, very good goalkeeper and he’ll be back from this.”

Feb. 26 in Alajuela
Alajuelense 5 D.C. United 2.
Goals: A.Rodriguez (pen.) 15, Ortiz 22, 54, Venegas 27, McDonald 90; Espindola 24, Birnbaum 88.
Alajuelense –-
Lewis; Acosta, Gutierrez, Peralta, Lopez, A.Rodriguez, Alonso, Venegas (Caldo, 57), Mattarita (O.Rodriguez, 75), Ortiz (Palma, 84), McDonald.
D.C. United –
Dykstra; Franklin, Birnbaum, Boswell, Kemp; Rolfe (Aguilar, 71), Kitchen, Arnaud (Farfan, 80), DeLeon, Pontius (Arrieta, 57); Espindola.

Concacaf Champions League, Quarterfinals, First Leg
Olimpia 1 Herediano 1
Pachuca 2 Montreal Impact 2
Saprissa 0 Club America 3
Alajuelense 5 D.C. United 2

Concacaf Champions League, Quarterfinals, Second Leg
Montreal Impact vs. Pachuca
Club America vs. Saprissa
D.C. United vs. Alajuelense
Herediano vs. Olimpia

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