Saragosa earns moment of joy in difficult year United's players took extra pleasure in seeing the Brazilian's match-winn
There was hardly anything easy about D.C. United’s third round Open Cup victory over the Richmond Kickers on Tuesday night. The hosts defended valiantly for most of the affair’s 120 minutes as extra time was needed to separate the two regional foes. After the match, head coach Ben Olsen called the affair a ‘gut check’ and seemed more relieved than exulted as he boarded a bus bound for Washington.
Though the difficulty of the Black-and-Red’s triumph wasn’t ideal, the player who ensured D.C.’s advancement was a fitting hero for such a night. Midfielder Marcelo Saragosa found himself on the receiving end of Branko Boskovic’s corner in the 107th minute and showed expert cool in beating Richmond goalie Ronnie Pascale from just a few yards out. After the goal he jumped straight into fellow countryman Maicon Santos’ open arms, providing a rare moment of joy in what has been an incredibly trying season for the Brazilian.
“[It has been] a tough year because my dad just passed away,” an emotional Saragosa said after the match. “The last two months I was in Brazil. I’m just happy to score and get a chance to help us [advance] to the next level.”
Things seemed to be going just right for Saragosa in the days prior to United’s mid-April road victory over New England. After returning to Brazil earlier in the year to tend to his ailing father, the 30-year-old felt comfortable enough to get back to work. He did so with a vengeance and was penciled in as a starter against the Revs, only to receive the devastating news of his father’s passing that Friday night.
As Saragosa hastily made his way back to Brazil, the Black-and-Red mourned his loss. In the aftermath of that come from behind win at Gillette Stadium, D.C.’s players – to a man – talked about their teammate’s grief.
On Tuesday night, they gladly shared in his joy.
“It’s amazing,” said goalkeeper Joe Willis. “He’s been through a lot, had a pretty tough year. He is an amazing guy, a positive guy, and it’s infectious. He brings that into the locker room and he puts a smile on everyone’s face.”
“We are all happy for him,” added midfielder Stephen King. “Marcelo is one of those guys that comes in every day and works hard. Maybe he is under-appreciated around the league, [but] we know his value and we love having him as one of our teammates.”