Chelsea gets by D.C. United before 31,473

Crespo's second-half goal wins for English titlists, 2-1

Soccer

July 29, 2005|By Glenn P. Graham | Glenn P. Graham,SUN STAFF

LANDOVER - Hardly a surprise, D.C. United came to FedEx Field with an extra dose of motivation last night, while fans - 31,473 strong and plenty noisy - were both curious and cautiously optimistic.

After all, how often comes the chance to see how you compare with one of the world's finest clubs, last night's being Chelsea, the English Premier League champ?

United, the defending Major Soccer League champion, had more than its share of moments and put some doubt in Chelsea's 2-1 victory.

The result - decided when Chelsea substitute Hernan Crespo scored in the 56th minute on a counterattack to break a 1-1 tie -was somewhat secondary.

The exhibition game was part of the 2005 World Series of Football, a four-match promotion that includes Italy's A.C. Milan, runner-up in this spring's European Champions League, and MLS's Chicago Fire, three-time U.S. Open Cup titlist.

Baltimore native Santino Quaranta, in his fifth season with D.C. United, said he'd love the chance to play in England. Last night, he got a first-hand taste of the competition he would find.

"It was enjoyable, definitely enjoyable. Just playing against these guys - they're constantly on the world stage, and you kind of look up to them - it was a great experience for us," said Quaranta, who just returned from playing for the United States in the Gold Cup, a national-team competition featuring teams from North and Central America and the Caribbean.

Last night's game was a first-of-its-kind match in that it featured the defending American champion going up against the English champ, and it also provided a global measuring stick for not only D.C. United, but also the MLS and U.S. soccer.

D.C. United coach Peter Nowak liked how his side didn't hold anything back.

"If you let [Chelsea] have a chance, then they are going to score and have results like that," he said. "My team did everything right. We pressed the ball. We pushed forward. For 90 minutes, we were still with these guys."

Growing more confident with each touch and every ball won early on, D.C. United got off the game's first shot on goal and scored first, in the 31st minute. Defender Bobby Boswell took a straight line to goal to head home a corner kick from Christian Gomez.

The goal clearly woke up Chelsea, which has lost just once in 39 matches, with Damien Duff tying the score in the game four minutes later off a world-class volley.

Shaun Wright-Phillips set up the goal, gaining space on the right side before sending a ball across to Duff, who cleanly left-footed a tough-angled shot into the net.

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