IMAGE: Rolfe zach ben

D.C. United’s 2016 preseason, which started in Bradenton, Florida in late January, ended Saturday night following a 4-1 loss to the Montreal Impact at Al Lang Stadium.  The match was also United’s last action in the inaugural Tampa Bay Rowdies Suncoast Invitational.  

United departed from Washington just in time to escape the blizzard, and began training at IMG Academy.  The Black-and-Red trained at the prestigious multi-sport complex for two weeks and played two matches against Swedish sides.  

Nick DeLeon, who has become well known for his work rate and skill on the ball along the wing, played in central midfield in the first match against IF Elfsborg.  Offseason addition Lamar Neagle (Seattle Sounders FC), started his first match for United and looked dangerous in attack, making runs in behind and dribbling at defenders.

The team then had several days to train before their next match, and with trialists coming in and out of camp trying to make the team as well as new signings trying to learn the tendencies of their teammates, every practice was vitally important.

United then played Jönköpings Södra IF, another Swedish team, later in camp.  New signing Marcelo Sarvas played for the first time in the black-and-red, and the two-time MLS Cup-winner’s incredible work rate and innate ability to spring a counter attack was a welcome addition to the side.  

After a short stint at home in D.C. where the team unveiled the new primary kits for the 2016 season, United headed back down to Clearwater for Part 2 of preseason.  

Another new signing, Luciano Acosta from Argentina’s Boca Juniors, played his first minutes for the club and proved important almost immediately, providing the assist for the only goal (Fabián Espíndola) between United and the Tampa Bay Rowdies on February 13, while offseason acquisition Patrick Nyarko (Chicago Fire) showed off his trickery on the outside.

One day after acquiring English midfielder Rob Vincent from the Pittsburgh Riverhounds of the United Soccer League the Black-and-Red faced the Philadelphia Union in their second match of the Suncoast Invitational and drew 1-1; Acosta and Espíndola seem to be on the verge of a blossoming offensive partnership.

In Saturday’s match against the Impact, top goalscorer from last season Chris Rolfe looked lively after he entered in the second half, while Álvaro Saborío scored his first goal of the preseason.  Espíndola ended as the team’s top scorer in preseason with three goals.

United now travel to Mexico to face Querétaro F.C. in the first leg of the Scotiabank CONCACAF Champions League quarterfinals on February 23.  The return leg is on March 1 at RFK Stadium, with MLS opening weekend kicking off March 6.

<strong>Offseason Acquisitions</strong>
<strong>Previous Club</strong>
<a href="//">Lamar Neagle</a>
Seattle Sounders FC
<a href="//">Patrick Nyarko</a>
Chicago Fire
<a href="//">Marcelo Sarvas</a>
Colorado Rapids
<a href="//">Luciano Acosta</a>
Boca Juniors (on loan at Estudiantes)
<a href="//">Rob Vincent</a>
Pittsburgh Riverhounds
<a href="//">Paul Clowes</a>
Clemson University