Under conditions that will likely be comparable to United’s season opener against the Houston Dynamo in seven days time, D.C. United sent Eastern Conference rivals Philadelphia Union home with a 2-0 loss. United ended its pre-season with a 2-2-3 record and a bit of confidence for goal scoreres Dwayne De Rosario and Lionard Pajoy (four goals in three games).
After controlling much of the first half possession and thwarting any chances by the Union, things started the heat up after a series of hard tackles on both sides of the ball. United’s high pressure forced numerous turnovers by the Union and made possession a luxury for the Union when they had the ball.
Pajoy helped jump start the scoring today after his high pressure caused central defender Bakary Soumare to give up the ball near midfield. Pajoy made a 50 yard uncontested run right at the Philadelphia Union keeper Zac MacMath, who took out Pajoy, earned a red card, and gave up a penalty kick. De Rosario did the rest from there and put away the penalty kick into the lower left corner. In the spirit of pre-season, the referee allowed MacMath to continue and both teams remained at full strength.
The half ended just seven minutes later but the favor was returned later on in the second half after De Rosario was taken out on a dangerous challenge near midfield. The Black-and-Red captain got up and pushed a player, earning him a red card for his actions. De Rosario headed to the locker room, while trialist Marcos Sanchez headed onto the field to even out the numbers in the 65th minute.
Just two minutes after entering, Sanchez got the ball along the right flank and played a perfectly weighted pass to Lionard Pajoy, who was just inside the 18 and hammered home a curling shot past a diving MacMath in the 67th minute. United only saw one newcomer in the starting lineup today and that is a testament to the teams ability to find a rhythm, hold the ball for much of the game, and defend as a cohesive unit. “We haven’t really made any changes to the whole team from last year,” said D.C. United defender Dejan Jakovic. “We have some strengths and the whole back line looked sharp today.”
In one weeks time, D.C. United will travel to Houston and open the season against the Dynamo, a matchup of the 2012 Eastern Conference Championship. Today’s test against Philadelphia, in a game where the temperature topped 90 degrees during the game, was good preparation for next weekend’s game in Houston, where the humidity and termperature often get to opponents. “We’re excited to be going there right away instead of the summer when it gets really hot,” added Jakovic.
D.C. United Starting XI:
Hamid; Korb (Riley 46’), McDonald, Jakovic, Woolard; DeLeon (Porter 83’), Thorrington (Saragosa 46’), Kitchen, Pontius (Neal 87’); De Rosario (Sanchez 65’), Pajoy (Rafael 77’)
Philadelphia Union Starting XI:
Zac MacMath, Raymon Gaddis (Daniel 83’), Jeff Parke, Bakary Soumare, Sheanon Williams, Brian Carroll, Amobi Okugo (Lahoud 77’), Michael Farfan (Roger Torres 82’), Danny Cruz (Casey 65’), Sebastien Le Toux, Jack McInerney (Hoppenot 65’)