CARSON, Calif. -- The last time D.C. United walked off The Home Depot Center pitch, it was with an MLS championship in tow. Although the stakes of Saturday's 2-0 season opening win against the expansion Club Deportivo Chivas USA
weren't as high as that championship match last November, the importance of the win was not diminished.
United entered the match with questions abounding. How would their defense hold up without departed captain Ryan Nelsen? Would Christian Gomez be able to play at the same level with which he finished the 2004 campaign? Could Josh Gros be an effective everyday starter?
Gros and Gomez may have helped answer two of those questions as they scored both of United's goals, giving the defending MLS champs reason to be optimistic about its title defense.
United's performance also did much to calm the nerves of those who thought the backline would be shaky with the absence of Nelsen. Bobby Boswell was solid in that center back position and Mike Petke did well to break up several Chivas USA runs down the left flank.
On the right, Brandon Prideaux was effective on both the defensive and offensive ends. He made several early runs up the right flank and was able to get back to defend the counter-attack when necessary.
The opening stanza of the match produced few scoring opportunities for either side.
United's offense had trouble getting organized in the early going with little ball movement going through playmaker Gomez.
In the 16th minute, Nick Rimando stopped Chivas USA's best scoring chance of the afternoon by making a diving save on a Hector Cuadros free kick from 25 yards out.
Alecko Eskandarian, who finished the match with few touches, picked up a yellow card in the 29th minute after a hard challenge on Francisco Gomez. Gomez was carried off the field on a stretcher and would not return.
Three minutes later, Gros put United ahead. Jaime Moreno led the charge on the goal-scoring attack. Moreno, who looks to be in the form he showed last year in his return from a pair of injury-plagued campaigns, found a streaking Brian Carroll on the left side of the box. Carroll quickly passed right across the goalmouth to Gros who placed a one-time shot squarely into the heart of the net past the scrambling Chivas USA goalkeeper, Brad Guzan.
The goal gave United a boost of confidence heading into the break and it stayed with them for the rest of the match.
Freddy Adu made his first appearance of his sophomore season in the 74th minute, in keeping with coach Peter Nowak's preference to use him as a late substitute.
In the 76th minute, Gomez sealed the victory with an unchallenged shot from five yards out past a diving Guzan.
D.C. United open their home schedule at RFK Stadium next Saturday against the Chicago Fire at 7:30 p.m. ET (HDNet).
MLSnet.com Man of the Match: Christian Gomez
Danny Bueno is a contributor to MLSnet.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Soccer or its clubs.
D.C. United (1-0-0) vs. CD Chivas USA (0-1-0)
April 02, 2005 -- The Home Depot Center
DC -- Joshua Gros 1 (Brian Carroll 1, Jaime Moreno 1) 32
DC -- Christian Gomez 1 (unassisted) 76
D.C. United -- Nick Rimando, Bobby Boswell, Mike Petke, Brandon Prideaux, Joshua Gros, Brian Carroll, Ben Olsen, Steve Guppy (Santino Quaranta 68), Alecko Eskandarian (Freddy Adu 74), Christian Gomez (Clyde Simms 83), Jaime Moreno.
Substitutes Not Used: Troy Perkins, David Stokes.
TOTAL SHOTS: 11 (Christian Gomez 3, Ben Olsen 3); SHOTS ON GOAL: 3 (3 tied with 1); FOULS: 15 (Joshua Gros 5); OFFSIDES: 0; CORNER KICKS: 3 (Steve Guppy 2); SAVES: 3 (Nick Rimando 2)
CD Chivas USA -- Brad Guzan, Orlando Perez, Aaron Lopez (Isaac Romo 74), Ryan Suarez, Ezra Hendrickson, Francisco Gomez (Francisco Mendoza 32), Hector Cuadros, Ramon Ramirez, Arturo Torres (Antonio Martinez 58), Thiago Martins, Matt Taylor.
Substitutes Not Used: Victor Arbelaez, Esteban Arias, Javier Barragan, Milton Blanco, Alfonso Loera, Jesus Ochoa.
TOTAL SHOTS: 13 (Matt Taylor 4); SHOTS ON GOAL: 3 (3 tied with 1); FOULS: 11 (Thiago Martins 2, Ramon Ramirez 2); OFFSIDES: 3 (Matt Taylor 2); CORNER KICKS: 7 (Antonio Martinez 3); SAVES: 1 (Brad Guzan 1)
CHV -- Hector Cuadros (caution; Reckless Foul) 18
DC -- Alecko Eskandarian (caution; Reckless Foul) 29
DC -- Ben Olsen (caution; Reckless Foul) 44
DC -- Christian Gomez (caution; Reckless Foul) 52
Referee: Kevin Stott
Referee's Assistants: -Craig Lowry; Chris Strickland
4th Official: Ramon Hernandez
Time of Game: 1:54
Weather: Partly Cloudy-and-72-degrees
All Statistics contained in this boxscore are unofficial.