D.C. United today ended its first leg of pre-season on a positive note with a 1-1 tie against one of Sweden’s most storied clubs, Malmo FF. The final game of the 13-day long trip to Bradenton, Fla., was played on a sunny morning at the famed IMG Academy.
The game started with an onslaught of pressure and possession from Malmo FF early on, but United did well to weather the storm and bounced back with long spells of possession after the first 10 minutes. Malmo did break through in the 28th minute after Erik Friberg, a former Seattle Sounders FC standout netted the first goal of the game off of a pass from Magnus Eriksson. The rest of the half saw bouts of possession for each side. Lionard Pajoy did well throughout the half to control balls out of the back and lay them off to midfielders to jump-start the attack going forward.
Chris Pontius – coming off a groin injury from last year – and Bill Hamid – having just arrived from U.S. Men’s National Team camp – were both subbed in towards the end of the half, with Malmo taking a 1-0 lead at the interval.
“It felt good to be back out there with the guys, you know?” said Hamid. “We had a special season last season, we just want to carry on the mentality and get ready for another long season.”
The second half saw almost a complete change in United’s and Malmo’s respective lineups. The Black-and-Red did well to possess and control most of the second half. Kyle Altman and Conor Shanosky holding the back line together until United finally broke through to equalize.
After a great defensive effort from Altman in the box, United countered to earn a corner kick. Newcomer Kyle Porter, who joined the team last night, went to the far side to take the corner. His whipped ball found the head of Joseph Nane, a trialist who formerly played with the Colorado Rapids. Nane rose above the rest and put home a powerful header.
“What we were looking for in this game was improvement, along with the next game,” said D.C. United Head Coach Ben Olsen. “And today we saw that. Overall, we got better in a lot of the areas we worked on throughout the week, and that’s what we want to see.”
United will return home tonight and have two days of rest before getting back to work on Monday with three training sessions at Long Bridge Park in Arlington, Va., next week. The Black-and-Red will then travel Thursday morning to Orlando, Fla., for its final preparations for the 2013 MLS season.
“It’s gonna be a lot of games in a short period of time,” said Hamid. “We want to continue building. We got a lot of new guys, a lot of new faces, and now it’s all about building the chemistry again and gelling again and getting results.”
D.C. United Starting XI:
Hamid (Dykstra 36’); Russell (White 45’), McDonald (*Altman 45’; *Richter 90’), Woolard (Shanosky 45’), *Markovic (Kemp 45); *Richter (*Navas 80’), Kitchen (*Nane 45’), Saragosa (Rozeboom 45’), Townsend (Seaton 45’); Pontius (*Porter 31’;*Vollmer 82’), Pajoy (Raynr 45’)
Malmo FF Starting XI:
Dahlin (Olsen 45’); Concha (Sentsrom 45’), Helander (Blounquist 45’), Jansson (Johansson 45’), Ricardinho (Konate 45’); Thern (Pekalski 45’), Halsti (Forsberg 45’), Friberg (Nazari 58’), Hamad; Eriksson (Rexhepi 70’), Fadi (Cibichi 45’)
Malmo FF: 28’—Friberg (Eriksson)
DC: 75’—*Nane (*Porter)
DC—55’ caution shown to Ethan White
* Denotes Trialist