With a convincing 5-1 win over San Juan Jabloteh Wednesday, D.C. United moved to the cusp of qualifying for the quarterfinal stage of the CONCACAF Champions League. It is now a possibility that they can qualify without playing another match, depending on how Thursday night goes.
Should Toluca defeat Marathon on Thursday, then United will advance to the next stage. If Marathon manages a win or draw, the situation gets a bit complicated for United. They then must get a positive result against Toluca in Mexico, or hope San Juan, a team that has no points in 5 group play matches, can beat or draw Marathon.
With that in mind, United will be sure to keep an eye on that Marathon game, even while preparing for an all important Major League Soccer match against Chivas USA on the weekend.
"I am going to be watching [the game]," United coach Tom Soehn said in a press conference after the match. "But we also have to take care of business ourselves, and if we don't do that, there's no need to watch."
United's main focus now, though, is their home match against Chivas USA on Saturday. After a devastating loss to San Jose on Sunday, a victory over Chivas is a must for United, who are currently on the outside looking in for the MLS playoffs. And while the victory over San Juan was nice, the competition will pale in comparison to what they will see against Chivas.
"Without a doubt, Saturday's game is going to be more difficult for us," stated United playmaker Christian Gomez after the match. "But it all depends on us; if we are able to convert our opportunities when we create them, we should be okay."
"You have to have a short memory in professional sports," added Soehn after the match. "Both when you lose and when you win, knowing that, you go back to work, and it's a different day, and you have to do the same things."
In the 5-1 win over San Juan, United got a big performance out of Gomez, who has not featured much lately for United. Tonight, Gomez scored twice and assisted on Boyzzz Khumalo's first goal. With such a performance, Soehn acknowledged that Gomez might be back as an important part of United's team in the final three games of MLS league play. But Soehn also admitted that he would choose his team on a game by game basis, leaving the possibility open that Gomez might be relegated to a reserve role.
For San Juan Jabloteh, the 5-1 loss was their fifth loss in group play this year, with only two goals scored and 13 conceded. After the match, manager Earl Jean was upset with his team's performance, as he thought the energy was not what the team needed to be successful on the night.
"For me, it was a disappointment for my team," stated Jean in a press conference after the match. "I expected more, but I still need more commitment from them, so I am more disappointed in our performance and attitude."
But even with the possibility of advancing to the quarterfinals well gone, Jean vows that his team will continue to push on for a victory in their final group play match against Marathon, if not only just for their own self pride.
"I play to win, [and] I play positive football," said Jean after the match. "We need to win our games, because you want to come out of there with some pride and some dignity. We are going to go out in the last home game and try to win it."
Steven Streff, Goal.com
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