Albeit against a much younger opponent, D.C. United opened their 2017 preseason campaign with a strong victory over the United States Under-17 Team. Even though the match was less about the result and more about the progress of individuals returning to fitness and the group as a cohesive unit, head coach Ben Olsen was pleased with how his side played, given the circumstances. “We were very good at both ends and [playing the U-17’s] allowed us to work on our offensive patterns at a good pace," Olsen said. "There was plenty of possession, so it was a very good exercise at this stage early in the preseason.”
In the first half, Patrick Mullins led the line for the Black-and-Red in front of a central midfield pair of Luciano Acosta and Ian Harkes, the club's most recent Homegrown signing. Lamar Neagle and Lloyd Sam manned the left and right wings, respectively, while Rob Vincent played holding midfield in front of a back line consisting of Nick DeLeon, Bobby Boswell, Jalen Robinson and Sean Franklin. Travis Worra played in goal.
Goal! Vincent hits a screamer outside the 18 off a pass back from Sam in the corner.— D.C. United (@dcunited) February 1, 2017
Goal! Neagle on the wing passed to Sam in the box who dribbled around a defender and tapped it in the net— D.C. United (@dcunited) February 1, 2017
In the second half, new loan acquisition and Costa Rican forward José Guillermo Ortiz played up top while Patrick Nyarko and fellow new signing Sébastien Le Toux played outside midfield. Second-year midfielder Julian Büscher partnered with Jared Jeffrey in the center of the field in front of Brazilian Marcelo Sarvas, and Max Tissot (trialist), Kofi Opare, Chris Durkin and Chris Odoi-Atsem (first-round draft pick) comprised the defense. Another United draft pick, Eric Klenofsky (Monmouth University), played in goal.
While numerous players played well, Sam scored twice and Le Toux, Vincent and Büscher all scored, Olsen was pleased with the new signings.
“I thought Ortiz was sharp," he said. "His movement off the ball, his ability to get on the end of service and his finishing ability were all good today. [And] Ian’s a super-talented kid. His passing ability and skill set are going to allow him to be a good professional, but there are still some things in his game we need to tweak to fit him into central midfield, but that’s what preseason’s all about and he’s a very quick learner.”
The Black-and-Red complete their first week of preseason Thursday, Feb. 2, and will train in Bradenton for another week before flying back to Washington on Feb. 9.