D.C. United falls to Chelsea before 31,473

Crespo's second-half goal wins for English champs


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 its supporters - 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 - clinched when Chelsea substitute Hernan Crespo scored in the 56th minute on a counterattack in the 56th minute to break a 1-1 tie -was somewhat secondary.

The game itself, an exhibition as part of the 2005 World Series of Football, clearly had center stage.

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 may someday 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 U.S. men's national team the Gold Cup, a national-team competition featuring teams from North and Central America and the Caribbean. The U.S. team won.

"There was more to it than your usual MLS game, because you know it's going to be a great challenge, playing against these guys. It was a battle and a great game for the fans to watch, and I thought everyone enjoyed themselves."

Last night's game wasn't just a friendly exhibition.

It 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.

So how did the home team stack up against England's finest? Just fine.

Growing more confident with each touch and every ball won early on, D.C. United not only got off the game's first shot on goal, but also the game's first goal when defender Bobby Boswell took a straight line to goal to head home a corner kick from Christian Gomez in the 31st minute.

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