Daily training report
Preseason reset: Day 7
On a perfect Friday in Bradenton, Fla., D.C. United and Orlando City SC battled to a 1-1 draw in the first preseason game at IMG Academy. The first competitive game of the 2015 MLS preseason started the way most would expect it to, with both teams shaking off the rust trying to figure each other out. But it didn’t take long for the Black-and-Red to find its footing. In the 8th minute United had several attempts on goal, including two corner kicks, but neither made it in the net. In the 14th minute Chris Pontius headed home United’s first goal of the season off a great left footed cross by Taylor Kemp who was previously set up by Fabian Espindola. Pointus and Espindola looked dangerous a few times, in the first half, as the duo connected on more than one attempt.
United started the second half with an entirely new lineup, and things got chippy between the two sides as younger players tried to earn their roster spot. Orlando City took advantage of a mis-handled free kick by Diego Restrepo, in the 55th minute, to convert the game-tying goal. United had its chance to take the lead in the 76th minute, when Jairo Arrieta slid in for a deflected ball, but Orlando’s keeper just got enough of a hand on it. Ultimately, the final whistle saw both D.C. United and Orlando City SC earn draws in their first preseason match.
On Field Highlight of the Day: It only took 14 minutes for the Black-and-Red to record its first goal of the 2015 season, and of course it started with Fabian Espindola. Espindola played a perfectly weighted ball to a streaking Taylor Kemp. Kemp took a touch and fired his patented left footed in-swinger to Chris Pontius, who made the finish look easy. That play summed up a little bit of everything 2014 had to offer. Espindola’s brilliance, Kemp’s left foot and the Pontius’ resurgence.
Off Field Highlight of the Day: On a game day, everyone has their own rituals. Some workout, others nap and a good amount of players hit the treatment table. But down in Florida it’s a little different. Most players will stay out of the sun, some of the staff takes the down time to work out or take a quick dip in the pool, but Head Coach Ben Olsen was doing none of the above. Sitting poolside with pencil and paper in hand scribbling, erasing and scribbling some more, you could tell he had a lot on his mind with plenty of options and formations to work with tonight. How long do you play your starters vs. how much time do you give the new and young players to see what they have?
Q&A with Ben Olsen and Chris Pontius: