CONCACAF Champions Cup: DC UNITED vs. Pachuca Day 1

Log line: preseason form, playing at altitude and a slightly less deep bench lose out to perfect tactical plan.

Result: DC United 0 Pachuca 2

Read a recap from the Washington Post’s Steve Goff HERE

My Thoughts:

The knock for MLS fans on the revamped (read: now worth something as it is for a slot in the FIFA club world cup) CCC has been how early it comes in the season. It’s not an illegitimate claim. One needs look no further than Superliga last year to see how a dreadful Galaxy team nearly took Pachuca down.

However, credit is definitely due to Pachuca. They remained compact and connected their passes pretty well and were disciplined. It’s not like if this match was in season for both clubs it’d be a cakewalk for DC as Pachuca is a quality side.

The altitude this early in the season never helps and Pachuca definitely used that to their advantage by playing a much more uptempo than usual game the first half. They used the same approach to their advantage against Houston last year and is a smart choice. When you are used to training at 7000+ ft above sea level you damn well better use it to your advantage. Of course, it’s not all up to them, DC needs to do something to slow the game down but Gallardo wasn’t quite given the opportunity to do that despite his otherwise stellarplay in the first half.

The biggest problem for DC on this night was the same problem they had in the season opener vs. KC:Emilio.

Emilio was electric last year early on but this year he is looking sluggish. Perhaps the excitement of a new team amped him up, but he just looks ‘off’ so far this year. If DC is going to have any chance of of winning in DC (which they do) Emilio really needs to find his form. Having Moreno back, a skilled player at holding the ball up and keeping possession while everyone else works into the attack, will also go a LONG way towards helping Gallardo dictate the pace of the game.

In the end, Pachuca used the conditions and their slightly deeper bench to their advantage and showed the class they’ve had the past 2 years. The gaffes by Zach Wells certainly helped them out as the first goal really had no business going in.

7 days from now is Day 2 and DC will have it all to do at RFK. They are very capable of winning by 2 and forcing penalties (there is no away goals rule in CONCACAF) and there is even and outside shot of winning by 3 as the center of defense looked ROCK solid, especially Gonzalo Martinez.

It should be interesting once again. It will be sad to see this tournament go, but even more exciting to see what the Champions League will bring with the expanded field and longer competition format. Very exciting days for soccer/football/futbol in the CONCACAF region.

UPDATE: Some video of the match. (originally posted by Goff)


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