DC United beat Jamaica’s Waterhouse 1-0 on a nervy night at RFK Stadium in the CONCACAF Champions League Group 4.
The Black-and-Red are one of only two Major League Soccer clubs to have won the competition, back when it was known as the Champions Cup in 1998, and Eddie Johnson’s early conversion set them on their way for another year.
The Kingstonians were defeated by Mantego Bay United in the Red Stripe Premier League’s play-off final in May, after topping the division, but have made an ideal start to the new campaign, with an away success against Panama’s Tauro in the group’s opening game. They were similarly impressive here, granting Ben Olsen’s men few openings.
However, a first attack brought a first goal for United. Conor Shanosky played a glorious pass over the visiting defence, where the pace of recent acquisition David Estrada allowed him to keep the ball in play and centre for Johnson to score.
Joe Willis was soon called into action, though, as Waterhouse offered a threat. Hughan Gray had already shown flashes of his pace, and found Jermaine Anderson in the area, who spun and fired at the goalkeeper. Having blocked that effort, the 26-year-old then had to hold from Kenroy Howell’s uncontested strike.
While the American side always looked a threat on the break, their opponents dominated possession, but were limited mainly to attempts from distance. Romario Campbell angled a drive into Willis’ hands in the only shot of note before referee Armando Castro’s whistle signalled the interval.
The same pattern of play continued into the second period, and Kenardo Forbes finally hit the target. Though he was denied, DCU boss Olsen was growing frustrated on the touch-line, emphasising his feelings to the officials.
Reacting to their manager’s ill-feeling, the Black-and-Red eventually managed a forward foray, with Collin Martin obstructed by a blocking defender. There were further opportunities, but with no breakthrough, and close calls at the other end, the tension built.
After Willis had stopped Evan Taylor’s curler, Johnson missed the chance to seal the result, overrunning the ball as he rounded Richard McCallum.
It mattered little though, with Castro bringing the game to a prompt conclusion, and the hosts holding on for a narrow victory.