D.C. United Captures North American Title
WASHINGTON 08.16.98: In a scantly filled R.F.K. Stadium on Sunday, April 16th, Washington's soccer team D.C. United took a great step in the name of U.S. soccer, winning the 1998 CONCACAF Champions' Cup. The result was 1-0 against the last Mexican champions, Toluca. United defeated Leon of Mexico in the semifinal, and in the previous game smashed Trinidad and Tobago team Joe Public 8-0. Today the only goal was scored by US international defender Eddie Pope, who was kept busy all day at the back. His hard work payed off after the Toluca keeper made a grave mistake on an aerial ball. The ball was deflected and dropped in the area. Pope pounced on the ball and scored the gamewinner. There could have been more for DC, who truly showed to be the motivated team througout the match. At the onset, Toluca seemed stronger, showing a more organized game than that of the 2-time US champs. However, the tides turned about midway through the half, thanks to the midfield leadership of Bolivian star Marco Etcheverry. Rookie right wing midfielder Ben Olsen was also a standout on the attack, and his speed on the wing began to create chances for D.C. Toluca faded and D.C. scored a goal that was quickly disallowed as offsides by the referee. D.C. began getting closer, and only the crossbar rejected them after a scramble in the penalty area. However, before the half ended, Pope scored the eventual winner. The second half was rather uneventful, with D.C.'s Bolivaian star Jaime Moreno also hitting the crossbar after a great Etcheverry play.
In the end, D.C. surpassed the expectations of many, becoming the undisputed North American Champion. This could be a great step forward for D.C., who now has earned a spot in the Inter-American Championship, to be played against the winner of the Vasco da Gama-Barcelona final of the South American Copa Libertadores. If the Brasilians of Vasco were to win as expected, D.C. would gain another chance to prove itself against South America's best. Certainly the task will be more formidable, yet all is possible with the determination showed by the Americans today. Perhaps the MLS, or at least D.C., is now worthy of more attention.
TOLUCA--Mario Albarran, J.
Salvador Carmona, Omar Blanco, Antonio Taboada (Darko Vukic 60), Victor Ruiz, Jose S.
Cardozo, Fabian Estay, Alberto Macias, David Rangel, Jose Manuel Abundis (Mario Ordiales
76), Enrique Alfaro (Rafael Garcia 71)
D.C. UNITED--Scott Garlick,
Carey Talley, John Harkes, Brian Kamler, Jaime Moreno (Carlos Llamosa 76), Marco
Etcheverry, Jeff Agoos, Ben Olsen, Roy Lassiter, Richie Williams, Eddie Pope
Referee: Carlos Batres
THE BEST: has been Roy Lassiter for United, who is leading the league in scoring after being blatantly overlooked by Steve Sampson for France 98. He scored the 2 vital goals against Leon of Mexico, and has been absolutely on a tear for the MLS Champions. Marco Etcheverry, who has been the brain of this team, and has once again led them to triumph.
THE WORST: The performance of the Mexican teams. Much more was expected.
3rd Place game 8.16.98:
Saprissa (Costa Rica) 2