Preview: D.C. United vs Paris St. Germain
Over the past decade, D.C. United has played host to some international soccer's biggest names. Chelsea, Real Madrid and AC Milan have all traveled to the nation's capital looking for good competition and the opportunity to expand their global presence. The club's opponent this Saturday is no different, as Paris St. Germain hopes to soon be counted among the world's best.
"They are like the Manchester City of Ligue One," said United defender Brandon McDonald. "Their owners have come in with a lot of money and brought in a lot of quality players. They are coming to play us, so that gets D.C. United a lot of publicity worldwide. There's a lot to be gained for both parties."
For the Black-and-Red, some much-needed confidence would be the most useful takeaway from Saturday's match. After spending most of June occupying the Eastern Conference's top spot, United has slipped to fourth thanks to consecutive road defeats. The contest serves as a brief break from the physicality of league play while doubling as a chance for Head Coach Ben Olsen's charges to test themselves against the very best.
"We'll get after them," Olsen promised, while adding that his team would approach the match with an intensity usually reserved for league play. "We'll use this as a good exercise to continue building our rhythm, tinker with some things and get ready for Columbus."
While PSG is still in its preseason, United's players expect their counterparts to turn in a competitive performance on Saturday. The Parisians well-documented spending spree has made for a roster loaded with talent and – with only two weeks until PSG opens their Ligue 1 campaign against FC Lorient on August 11 – battles for playing time are in full swing.
On Tuesday, manager Carlo Ancelotti acknowledged that his team is putting "greater emphasis" on this part of the season than usual.
"Their players will really be fighting for positions," noted D.C. captain Dwayne De Rosario. "Sometimes you have European teams that are already established, and the games are more relaxed. I think this match here is going to mean a little more, because their guys are fighting for minutes when their season starts."
Of all the visitor's talent, United's defense figures to face its biggest challenge in the form of Swedish superstar Zlatan Ibrahimovic. Should Ibra – as expected - make his PSG debut on Saturday, limiting him will be key to any hopes of an upset.
"He's a beast, a monster," said McDonald. "If you can keep his back to goal and as far away from our goal as possible, I think we'll be in good shape. But we know that probably won't happen. We are just going to have to take the blows as they come, and hopefully, we can give the crowd an exciting match."
TV SCHEDULE: FOX Soccer will air the D.C. United vs Paris Saint-Germain match on delay starting ay 10:00 PM ET.
SOCIAL MEDIA ALERT: We will report the match in real-time. If you don't want to know the score, avoid the club's Facebook and Twitter accounts.