DC United 1, Queretaro 1 | CONCACAF Champions League Recap
D.C. United's CONCACAF Champions League hopes died with a whimper at RFK Stadium on Tuesday, as a very early goal from Angel Sepulveda earned Queretaro a comfortable 1-1 draw that advances the Liga MX club to the CCL semifinals by a 3-1 aggregate score.
Carrying a 2-0 deficit from last week's first-leg loss in Mexico, Ben Olsen's side had stressed the importance of not conceding on home soil as they sought to stage a furious comeback. But those plans flew out the window just four minutes in, when Sepulveda lashed home an easy low finish after Edgar Benítez headed Sinha's deep cross to the far post into his path, with D.C.'s Steve Birnbaum caught out by the initial delivery from the right wing.
Needing at least four goals to advance, a shellshocked United tried to rally. Marcelo Sarvas drew a solid save from Queretaro goalkeeper Tiago Volpi with a knuckling drive in the 10th minute, and Fabian Espindola went agonizingly close on two good chances in the 53rd minute.
The Black-and-Red's fading hopes flickered when Patrick Nyarko earned a penalty kick in the 55th minute. But Volpi read Rolfe and denied him from the spot, diving to his right to parry the effort away.
United rookie Julian Buescher came off the bench to give the home fans some welcome joy in the 84th minute, as the German hammered a bending blast off the post from long range to level the score at 1-1. But it was far too little, too late to keep Los Gallos Blancos from moving on to the semifinals.
- 4' – QRO – Angel Sepulveda (Edgar Benitez, Sinha)
- 84' – DC – Julian Buescher (Fabian Espindola)
- Full box score
1. D.C. UNITED BROKE THEIR OWN RULE: Despite Olsen's pregame emphasis on keeping a clean sheet at home, United conceded mere minutes after kickoff on a sequence that may leave several D.C. players blushing when they watch replays. The match had barely begun, but that lack of focus effectively killed their hopes of overcoming the first-leg deficit.
2. ANOTHER OPPORTUNITY MISSED: As a result of their early lead, Queretaro could keep it on cruise control for the rest of the night. But over these two games, they did little to suggest that they're true title contenders. This was a beatable opponent – but United just couldn't muster enough attacking quality to take advantage of it. In that respect, it's a frustrating facsimile of their disappointing loss to Alajuelense at this stage a year ago.
3. SAY HELLO TO JULIAN BUESCHER: United's top SuperDraft pick needed only 16 minutes to make a jaw-dropping impression, as he uncorked a wicked blast from distance to salvage the home side's pride in the dying minutes. It wasn't enough on this occasion, but it hints at the quality this rookie can offer for the season ahead.
They Said It
"I think we knew how to manage both games … we did what we needed to do to go through. Maybe we expected more [from D.C.], but we did what was necessary to get through the two games."
– Victor Manuel Vucetich, Queretaro manager
- DC: Sunday at LA Galaxy (10 pm ET, UniMas/MLS LIVE)