D.C. United forward Santino Quaranta said recently if he got the opportunity to start, he wouldn’t relinquish the role easily.
“I just want one chance to run at it, and then I don’t think I’ll ever come off the field,” Quaranta said.
The Baltimore native got his chance in Saturday’s home opener and had a goal and an assist in the 4-1 victory over Toronto FC.
Despite breaking a bone in his hand in the game, Quaranta’s impressive efforts likely will earn him a starting role tonight in United’s crucial Champions’ Cup semifinal game against Mexican powerhouse Pachuca at RFK Stadium.
United lost 2-0 in the first game of the series in Mexico. In order to advance to the final series, United has the difficult task of scoring three unanswered goals to win or tying the series with two unanswered goals and taking the series into a penalty shootout.
“We need to get that early goal,” Quaranta said. “If the goal doesn’t come in the first 10 or 15 minutes, we shouldn’t panic. Even if the goal doesn’t come early, the way our attack is going to be, we are going to get the chances.”
Because United needs goals, coach Tom Soehn likely will stay with the attacking duo of Quaranta and Luciano Emilio and might add more offense by also playing forward Jaime Moreno. Moreno, who has recovered from a thigh injury, played the entire second half against Toronto and scored a goal.
“We need to be calm and do a better job at keeping the ball,” Moreno said of United’s strategy against Pachuca.
United has not advanced past a Mexican team in the Cup since winning the title in 1998.
“We’ve dug ourselves into a hole, but they have to come here and play in our environment,” Soehn said.
If United advances, it will play the winner of the Houston Dynamo-Deportivo Saprissa (Costa Rica) series, The first game of that series ended in a scoreless tie in Houston.
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