Preseason match 5: United vs UC Santa Barbara
It took nearly the full 90 minutes, but D.C. United finally broke down the University of California Santa Barbara's defense on Tuesday evening in the 81st minute. Only moments after coming on as a substitute, 2011 MLS Supplemental Draft selection Blake Brettschneider bagged this third goal in two matches after volleying home a Brandon Barklage cross. The club is now 5-0 in exhibition matches in 2011.
United struggled to break down a stingy UCSB defense under the lights at Harder Stadium, as the Gauchos repelled multiple Black-and-Red attacks. Brettschneider scored twice in Sunday's 3-1 victory over the Ventura County Fusion, and Head Coach Ben Olsen commends the South Carolina product for making the most of his time on the field. "What's impressive is that [Brettschneider] has three goals in 25 minutes. We haven't been giving him many minutes, and he keeps coming in and scoring. That's what you want to do when you are trying to make a team," said Olsen.
When asked about the narrow victory, Olsen comments, "I guess it's a result, it was a good exercise for us today. [UCSB] is very good, they have a lot of good young talent and they were very impressive. I'm looking forward to watching them next year."
As he has for much of the 2011 preseason, Olsen broke his squad into two separate teams for each half on Tuesday. Andy Najar was active throughout the first half, making defenders miss and charging up and down the right wing. Branko Boskovic played centrally in midfield behind Joseph Ngwenya and Chris Pontius, the latter making a return to his college alma matter.
In the second half Charlie Davies partnered Josh Wolff up front. This speedy fontline combined well at certain moments, with Davies bursting through the 18-yard-box late in the contest to cross to Wolff. The former Kansas City striker backheeled the ball to an oncoming Brandon Barklage, but the midfielder narrowly missed his attempt on goal.
Goalkeepers Pat Onstad and Joe Willis did their part to keep United's cleansheet intact, with both men making crucial saves at different points in the match.
When asked about Davies' progress, Ben Olsen had this to say, "Charlie had a pretty good day. Some of the things we've been working on with Charlie we saw improve today. That's what this is about - [Davies] getting better everyday and working on getting back to his form."
The Black-and-Red conclude their stay in California on Friday with a training match against Chivas USA at the Home Depot Center. The players fly home to Washington on Saturday, February 26 before departing once more for the Carolina Challenge Cup in Charleston, S.C. on March 4.
From the moment he walked into Harder Stadium former UCSB Gaucho Chris Pontius was treated to a first class reception. The stadium video board pictured the forward in a United jersey accompanied by the words, "Welcome back Chris Pontius." The third-year MLS player faced off against his brother Tim in the match, as the younger Pontius is currently a member of the UCSB squad.
Said Pontius of the homecoming experience, "There were more jitters tonight than your average preseason game, it's nice to play against these guys. We didn't play particularly well, but we got a win out of it."
Pontius continues, "I put a lot of time in at [UCSB] and I had a great time with the people in the community and the fans here, so it was good to come back and see that I was appreciated."
In regards to facing his brother, Pontius concedes that years of playing against one another may have provided Tim with an advantage. "[Tim] got the better of me tonight - D.C. needs to sign him up. He played well, he knows all of my moves. There's no way he's falling for that cutback anymore."
- D.C. United - Brettschneider 81' (Barklage)
D.C. UNITED FIRST HALF LINEUP
Onstad; Zayner, Kitchen, Jakovic, Woolard; Najar, Morsink, Boskovic, Quaranta; Ngwenya, Pontius
D.C. UNITED SECOND HALF LINEUP
Willis; Korb, White, Brasesco, Burch; Fred, Simms, King (Brettschneider 79'), Barklage; Wolff, Davies