DC United to use Indonesian tour as prep for CONCACAF Champions League, "global exposure"
WASHINGTON – Among the many challenges facing D.C. United next season as they attempt to rebound from a poor 2013 campaign will be competing in the always-grueling CONCACAF Champions League.
By virtue of United’s US Open Cup victory in October, Ben Olsen’s club earned a berth in the competition, which requires frequent international travel right in the middle of the MLS stretch run.
In order to prepare for playing clubs outside of the US, United will spend the first week of December in Southeast Asia.
D.C.’s postseason Indonesian tour, which has been in the works for several months, will run from Dec. 3 through Dec. 9. During that time, they will play two friendlies, both against teams in the Indonesia Super League -- against Persib Bandung Dec. 6 and Arema FC Dec. 8. Both matches will be televised in prime time on SCTV, the largest free-to-air television station in Indonesia. United also will hold a youth soccer clinic in Jakarta before the matches.
“These matches will provide global exposure for our club and league in a market where soccer is ingrained in the daily lifestyle of the region,” said D.C. United chief operating officer Michael Williamson in a statement.
United majority owner Erick Thohir is Indonesian and has long expressed his desire to make United a global brand.
“I don’t think many of the guys have been to that part of the world so it should be interesting, to say the least, and a great experience,” said United midfielder Perry Kitchen during the club’s final media availability session of the season.
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United’s first opponents, Persib Bandung, were founded in 1933 and have won seven national titles while Arema FC have captured five domestic titles in their history and reached the quarterfinals of the AFC Cup in 2012.
“Everyone’s really excited to see that part of the world,” said United midfielder Jared Jeffrey. “It looks like it’s going to be fun. I’m looking forward to it there. And I know some of the guys are going to go to Bali a couple days after that, so we’re looking forward to that, too.”