With just 35 days until the start of the 2013 season, D.C. United played against someone other than themselves for the first time this year after a long and grueling first week of preseason. United faced off at the IMG Academy in Bradenton, Florida against a familiar Eastern Conference foe, the Columbus Crew.
Nick DeLeon, who started on the right side of midfield, after a stellar first season, noted that “it felt good to be back out there after a nice winter break. It was just the right amount of time and it feels good to be back out on the field with the guys getting some touches on the ball.”
Despite dropping the decision to the Crew on a penalty kick converted by Sercan Guvenisik in the 66th minute, United and the coaching staff seized the day to work out the kinks coming off an extended break. “It was a typical first preseason game,” said D.C. United Head Coach Ben Olsen.
“There were a bunch of instances where guys weren’t on the same page and the rhythm was off, but this is normal and it happens every time. It gives us a good idea of what we need to work on,” continued Olsen. While United walked away scoreless, Ben Olsen did see some positives from the contest, “Overall, the energy and commitment level from the guys was exactly what we wanted.”
Two of the Black-and-Red’s newest off-season acquisitions, Rafael and Casey Townsend had about 30 minutes to play together in the second half. Between the two, there was some promising play from. One of United’s best chances came on a nifty one-time shot from Rafael, which in the end was deflected out of danger by the Crew.
“With Rafa [Rafael] and Casey [Townsend], it was the first time they had seen each other, so the rhythm was off, but it wasn’t just them,” said Olsen.
Rafael, who has been working hard on the field to adjust to the new style of play, and off the field to the new culture, said after the game through a translator that “I have had to adapt a lot to the new style of play, the new players, but over the next few weeks of playing and getting to know the guys, I will be able to pick it up pretty quick.”
Looking ahead to the coming week, D.C. United will face off against Malmo on Friday before returning home to the nation’s capital for a few days of home cooking. “This week, we will work on a few things that will get us better and improve the quality of play. As long as we continue to improve each game and push our fitness, I think we are in good shape,” said Olsen.
- The only players that were part of the 2012 D.C. United roster that featured in the second half of today’s game were Ethan White, Conor Shanosky, and Lance Rozeboom.
- The starting lineup for today featured two newcomers, John Thorrington and trialist Ryan Richter.
- United’s Chris Pontius and Lewis Neal were both rested for today’s game.
- New United striker Casey Townsend arrived in Bradenton, Florida at 10:15 p.m. last night.
D.C. United Starting XI:
Dykstra (*VanOekel 45’); Korb (*Omphroy 45’), McDonald (White 45’), Woolard (*Altman 45’), Russell (Kemp 45’; Rozeboom 75’); DeLeon (Raynr 45’), Kitchen (Shanosky 45’), Saragosa (*Nane 45’), Thorrington (Townsend 45’; Seaton 75’), *Richter (*Markovic 45’); Pajoy (Rafael 45’)
Columbus Crew Starting XI:
Gruenebaum (Lampson 45’); Barson (Matte 45’), Marshall (Gehrig 45’), Williams (Beckie 45’), Wahl (Hyland 45’); Gaven (Finlay 45’), George (Trapp 45’), Tchani (Witkowski 45’; Sloan 85’), Speas (Meram 45’); Higuaín (Guvenisik 45’; Basom 85’), Finley (Schoenfeld 45’; Brettschneider 67’)
CLB: 66’ – Sercan Guvenisik penalty kick
DC – 24’ caution shown to Brandon McDonald
CLB – 44’ caution shown to Tyson Wahl
CLB – 78’ caution shown to Will Trapp