Felipe Martins’ free kick gives DC United a 1-0 Capital Cup win over LD Alajuelense
DC United needed a lot of time, but finally found the breakthrough in a 1-0 win over LD Alajuelense in the very first Capital Cup game. Felipe Martins settled the game with an 87th-minute goal straight from a free-kick as United – featuring a mix of players from DC and Loudoun United – exhausted the 2020 Costa Rican champions Apertura.
Hernán Losada, making changes for a tournament friendly, had good news in store, as veteran defender Steven Birnbaum returned from two ankle surgeries in the offseason for his first action in 2021. United also called Jovanny Bolívar from his loan to Loudoun United started in the lead, while two other players under contract with Loudoun (Landry Nanan Houssou and Gaoussou Samaké) complete the training.
The opening exchanges were disjointed, with neither team managing the danger much. Carlos Mora shot wide as he was well placed in the 23rd minute, as Bolivar’s effort from the top of the box was deflected over the bar for a corner the home side couldn’t capitalize on. the league responded almost immediately, Brandon Aguilera recovering Mora’s cut and forcing a solid Jon Kempin save in the 29th minute.
Griffin Yow forced a save from goalkeeper Mauricio Vargas in the 37th minute, the Blacks and Reds then forcing another save as Birnbaum directed the resulting corner at goal. The ball found its way to Joseph Mora, who couldn’t quite make contact from three meters away, leaving the game goalless.
Yow looked like a threat again in the 49th minute, cutting off from the right to play a pass Alajuelense couldn’t handle. Kimarni Smith, one of the three halftime substitutes, kicked the ball to open a shooting window for Yordy Reyna, but the Peruvian cut the ball off and ultimately blocked his shot.
Within a minute of Reyna’s arrival, Kairou Amoustapha, called up by Loudoun, was scored on goal, but a first touch that left him too much to do resulted in a weak shot, much to the chagrin of the Nigerian international.
Smith then had another good look in the 73rd minute, but didn’t shoot fast enough to beat the defense of Alajuelense, who pulled off another block. At the other end, Chris Seitz didn’t have much to do after replacing Kempin at half-time, but he did well to come out and defuse a long ball in the 80th minute.
United had clearly exhausted Alajuelense with his possession in the second half, but had to wait until the 87th minute for a winner. Smith won a dangerous free kick at the edge of the box. With Vargas invisible by a crowd of black and red players, Felipe saw his chance to smartly shoot under the vault wall, beating Vargas with a cheeky 23-yard shot.
United will conclude their Capital Cup schedule this Sunday, taking on El Salvador’s Alianza FC at 5:30 p.m. on Buzzard Point.
The score of the box
Capital Cup – Match 1
DC United 1 (Felipe 87)
LD Alajuelense 0
DCU (343): Jon Kempin (Chris Seitz 46); Steven Birnbaum (Allexon Saravia 46), Frédéric Brillant (C), Joseph Mora; Griffin Yow, Felipe Martins (Nicky Downs 91+), Landry Nanan Houssou (Ted Ku-DiPietro 69), Gaoussou Samaké (Jacob Greene 81); Yamil Asad, Jovanny Bolivar (Kimarni Smith 46 years old), Yordy Reyna (Kairou Amoustapha 58 years old)
LDA (433): Mauricio Vargas; Ian Smith, Fernán Faerron, Daniel Arreola (Alexis Gamboa 34), Yurguin Román; Bernald Alfaro, José Miguel Cubero (Aarón Suárez 77), Brandon Aguilera; Carlos Mora (Dorian Rodríguez 88), Jurguens Montenegro, Barlon Sequeira
DCU – Assad 72
LDA – Faerron 43, Aguilera 82