Behind the Badge: Festive times
Santino Quaranta, Eliseo Quintanilla and trialist Allen Handy scored goals and D.C. United won their fourth consecutive exhibition match to start the preseason in the first game of Sunday's doubleheader at the inaugural Tom Fitzgerald Memorial Soccer Festival at Pepin Stadium on the Florida campus of the University of Tampa. A capacity crowd watched the defending MLS Cup Champions use a youthful line-up to hold off the U.S. U-17 national team 3-2.
"After a tough week of training, I'm glad that we've emerged with two wins this weekend," said United Head Coach Peter Nowak. "We gave our young guys a lot of minutes today. They made a few mistakes and those are things that we will focus on in the coming weeks."
D.C. United (4-0) pushed forward in numbers from the opening whistle with Jason Thompson nearly finding Stephen Deroux at the back post two minutes in. At the nine-minute mark, Thompson touched a ball along the right flank to Nick Van Sicklen in full stride. The rookie midfielder took the ball to the end line before slipping a cross to Quaranta for a near post one-timer and a 1-0 lead.
The U-17s tied the score six minutes later, however, when a long cross to the left wing found Amaechi Igwe free of defenders. Igwe took a touch and pounded a shot that beat Troy Perkins to the far side netting.
United quickly regained control and had several chances to extend their lead. Shawn Kuykendall's half-volley forced Bryant Rueckner to a lunging save, Ben Olsen's cross passed just beyond Thompson on the doorstep and Quintanilla's long-rang bomb nearly beat the U-17 keeper before he set up Quaranta for another scoring chance that was saved by a sprawling Rueckner.
The Black-and-Red, however, would regain the lead in the 42nd minute. Olsen and Quintanilla engaged in a series of one touch passes through the U.S. midfield and defense before Olsen's final pass was touched beyond Rueckner's reach and into the left-hand portion of the goal by the Salvadoran midfielder.
United again extended their advantage five minutes into the second half. Olsen played a short corner to Nana Kuffour, who touched the ball back to Olsen. His one-timed cross was headed home from the far post by a leaping Handy.
Quavas Kirk converted an 89th minute penalty for the final 3-2 margin.
Sunday's line-up included: Perkins; Tim Merritt, Bobby Boswell, Handy; Van Sicklen (David Stokes 65'), Shawn Kuykendall (Freddy Adu 65'), Olsen (Tim Lawson 62'), Quintanilla (Kuffour 46'), Deroux; Quaranta (Zeferino Soares 62')and Thompson (Matt Nickell 46').
Following the match, Kuykendall returned to Washington, D.C. to tend to his continuing education at American University. The rookie midfielder will return to training with the Black-and-Red in the Nation's Capital later this week.
Sunday's match was a homecoming of sorts for Boswell, a Tampa native.
D.C. United return to action Tuesday against the MetroStars. The match, scheduled for a 10 a.m. kick-off at IMG Academies in Bradenton, Fla., will be the last session for the Black-and-Red before returning to Washington, D.C. on Wednesday.