Each year, adidas releases a new official match ball for MLS, and this year, we're going Brazilian!
The Brazuca, the official match ball of the 2014 FIFA World Cup has been given a make-over for MLS play. I tend to like the color update, which are said to represent the heart, "as the ball is the heart of soccer and MLS." MLS match balls are typically green and blue, like the league logo. But this year, it's all about the Black-and-Red!
What do you think of the new design?
The first day of the Developmental Academy Winter Showcase started out early. Both teams woke up at 7:30 a.m. They ate breakfast, picked up their kits, had a pregame meeting, and then left for the Lakewood Ranch complex by 8:30 a.m. Twenty-two fields with hundreds of soccer players, coaches, fans, referees and staff stretched across the green fields. Players commented on how everything back home was covered in snow and then preceded to enjoy the warm, breezy weather.
PHOTOS: DA Winter Showcase - Day 1
The D.C. United U-18 team matched up against the Carolina Railhawks at 10 a.m. The Black-and-Red started out quick and dominated the game for the first 20 minutes, but the Railhalwks tallied on a counter attack in the 22nd minute to lead 1-0. Carolina scored again six minutes later in the 28th to lead 2-0 going into halftime. United had more attacking changes in the second half, but couldn’t covert. The game ended 3-0 after the Railhawks scored another goal during stoppage time. The U-18s will play again on Dec. 12 at 9 a.m. against the New England Revolution.
The D.C. United U-16 team had a day off after their hectic travel day. They trained and did a quick workout before the U-18s played, and then watched the game. They will play on Dec. 12 against the Indiana Fire at 2:30 p.m.
D.C. United U-16 player Jose Carranza is training with the U-15 Boys National Team during the Winter Showcase and will play his first game of the weekend on Dec. 12 at 1:30 p.m. against Weston FC. Trey Vinson will be playing in the Developmental Academy Select Squad game at 6 p.m. on the 12th as well. To read more about Carranza and Vinson, CLICK HERE.
Finally, game day has arrived. What started as a typical day with breakfast, team stretch and a pre-game meal turned into more than we could have imagined once we hit the road. Imagine a Mardi Gras parade mixed with a Lot 8 tailgate, and you have a slight idea of what we just encountered on the way to the stadium. Every moped, van, truck, bus or car we passed seemed to be decked out in blue Persib gear en route to the game. If the vehicle they were riding in was full, they rode on top of it. I can now say that I have seen more people riding on top of a van than in one.
If the enthusiasm for soccer wasn’t clear enough on our hour drive to the stadium, it was certainly on display when we pulled up to the packed stadium two and a half hours BEFORE the game. The team was welcomed to the stadium with a standing ovation from tens of thousands of supporters in a display of pure class from our hosts. With chants and songs ringing through the stadium, we headed to the locker room with clear blue skies and a dry pitch, and then it happened. Mother Nature let her presence be known. Fans on the other side of the stadium turned to nothing more than a wet sheet of grey. They could be heard, but not seen. Indonesia rain isn’t normal rain. It’s like standing under a mini waterfall that lasts for four hours.
With no end in sight, the game took place as the Black-and-Red started Andrew Dykstra, Chris Korb, Ethan White, Conor Shanosky, Taylor Kemp, Lewis Neal, Jared Jeffrey, Kyle Porter, Luis Silva, Conor Doyle and Michael Seaton as I tried to hear myself over the roar of the crowd and the rain. Calling the field kind of wet would be like calling Mt. Everest a kind of tall. As you can imagine, the game was sloppy. Balls getting stuck in puddles, players slipping with every step, chunks of grass flying when someone attempted to stop, basically, the whole nine yards. After some quick counter-attacks by Persib with dangerous looks at goal, United settled down and got into a rhythm. What started out as a team who hadn’t played together, much less seen each other, in weeks turned into a cohesive unit midway through the first half as they scored the game's first goal, thanks to a Michael Seaton header. Persib answered late in the first half to tie the game going into the break.
The second half saw fewer familiar faces as Dykstra, Shanosky, Jeffrey, Doyle, Kemp and Seaton were the only original United members left on the field. The rest of the positions were filled with Richmond Kickers players, and as the game ended, only three Black-and-Red players were left standing. In a back-and-forth second half, both teams created good scoring chances, but Persib capitalized on their's as they went on to win the game, 2-1.
“We had a great time,” said D.C. United Head Coach Ben Olsen. “Both teams played attacking and had a lot of chances to entertain the crowd. We’re obviously disappointed in the loss, but I think we played a good team today, and the two goals they scored shows they have some very talented players. The fans are unbelievable here.”
In fact, they were so unbelievable that we had to sit on the bus, in the stadium for 45 minutes after the game because the traffic was so bad. Yes, that unbelievable. Thanks to our police escort, we made our way through the supporters back to the hotel where guys ate and watched the world cup draw with that that “oh crap” expression once we saw the USMNT's group. Tomorrow, the team will travel to Malang, Indonesia, the site of its last game during this trip.
The matches have been set. Who will you be cheering for, and which groups do you think have the toughest road to the second round?
As D.C. United prepares for its first match in Indonesia (Friday, December 6, 6:30 a.m. ET), we look back at another offseason trip to an Asian nation. In 1997, as winners of the 1996 MLS Cup, the Black-and-Red was invited to the Sanwa Bank Cup. The Cup, which ran from 1994-1997 was a single-match in which the champions of the J League would go head-to-head with the champions of a foreign league.
United lost to Nagoya Grampus Eight with a final score of 1-3 on March 2, 1997, but the trip marked a historic visit to the J League by the first-ever MLS Cup Champion.
Ahead of our match against Persib Bandung tomorrow t 6:30 pm local time (6:30 am here in the states), let's take a look back at the Black-and-Red's first stop on the Indonesia tour-- Jakarta.
While you were sleeping, the team departed from Jakarta and headed towards Bandung, where they will play their first friendly tomorrow morning (our time). Here are some of the tweets and Instagram posts coming from the squad as they arrived and checked out the view.
— Collin Martin (@martcw12) December 5, 2013
Left Jakarta and just got to Bandung, Indonesia.
— Ethan White (@EthanWhite15) December 5, 2013
I consider myself part of a new trend in the District of Columbia. I am a young professional living in the heart of the town, ushering in an urban revitalization of the federal city. While it has been amazing to see street car tracks laid down, new bars and restaurants opening their doors and even a craft beer revolution taking place inside the city’s boarders, it is impossible to look past the crowds of homeless individuals crowding the Starburst Plaza near H St. or the Martin Luther King Library on G St.
Yesterday, I had the chance to help those in need while volunteering through United Builds at DC Central Kitchen on 2nd St. NW.
A motley crew of D.C. United staff members including the Assistant Equipment Manager, Box Office Manager, and Director of Information Technology toiled in the massive kitchen preparing meals that would feed over 2,000 individuals.
How can 2,000 meals be prepared in less than three hours? Well, it certainly wasn’t easy.
I personally cut over 500 pieces of bread that would be used to make sandwiches to distribute through DC Central Kitchen’s various outlets. When the bread was all prepared we moved our efforts to pressing turkey patties. For over an hour I kept my hands wrist-deep in ground turkey, pressing over 400 patties on my own! After we finished our responsibilities, the group from D.C. United had prepared the elements for over 2,000 meals which would be distributed within a 24 hour period. While the work was tiring, it was rewarding to leave the facility knowing thousands in need would have a warm meal to eat because of our efforts.
DC Central Kitchen prepares over 10,000 meals per day and is open 365 days a year as “hunger takes no off days.” The facility relies on a base of volunteers to cut bread, chop vegetables, pound turkey patties and everything else that goes with feeding the masses. I highly recommend the experience to those looking to effectively donate their time. For more information visit http://www.dccentralkitchen.org/.