Behind the badge: On the right foot
In Bradenton, Fla., Jaime Moreno scored, Bryan Namoff, Mike Petke and David Stokes held the Crew's newly crafted forward combination of Ante Razov and Edson Buddle in check, and D.C. United beat the Columbus Crew 1-0 in the first game of the defending MLS Champion's preseason.
"This was a very good first game for us," said United head coach Peter Nowak. "Everyone was able to play and we see what we need to work on. We're going to continue to work hard."
Though Columbus saw much of the ball early on, Nowak's XI (Troy Perkins; Namoff, Petke, Stokes; Santino Quaranta, Tim Lawson, Brian Carroll, Christian Gomez, Josh Gros; Freddy Adu and Moreno) countered early and often. Stokes' overlapping run was rewarded by Gros. The defender crossed the ball to an open Adu, but his blistering left footer was deflected wide of target.
Eleven minutes in, Moreno put his stamp on the game. Adu fed the Bolivian striker near midfield. Moreno turned to goal, beat the central defender at the top of the 18-yard box by pushing the ball to his right and calmly slotted a shot to the far post past a diving Matt Jordan. Shortly thereafter, United began keeping better possession and would control much of the game to the final whistle.
Just prior to the half, United used the width of the field to create space for Gros. He found Gomez for a shot that was easily snared by the Columbus goalkeeper. Minutes later, Gros again beat his defender. Having gained the end line, his cross was just too tall for the leaping Jordan, but a well-positioned defender cleared the deflection before Adu could tuck the ball home. Gros made his physical presence known throughout the stanza, drawing a 32nd minute yellow from Alex Prus, for persistent infringement. The half ended as Namoff's 60-yard run led to his right-footed shot being saved by a diving Jordan.
Nowak sent Nick Rimando; Tim Merritt, Stokes, Stephen Deroux; Nana Kuffour, newly acquired Shawn Kuykendall, Lawson, Eliseo Quintanilla, Nick Van Sicklen; Quaranta and Zeferino Soares to the field in the second half. The group continued to dominate possession, though created few scoring opportunities before Adu re-entered the game in the 60th minute, spelling Quaranta.
Adu drew woodwork five minutes later with a clever move and a whipping left-footed shot to the far post from the right flank. Later, Soares hit the near post with a close range toe poke. Quintanilla provided United's last quality chance late, but the midfielder's 25-yard strike passed just wide to the right.
Rimando preserved the shutout win by smothering an open 12-yard blast in the 75th minute and forcing an open Crew forward to push an attempt wide in the waning moments. United (1-0) returns to preseason action on Tuesday against Real Salt Lake. Kick-off at IMG Academy is set for 10 a.m. ET.
Rimando and Alecko Eskandarian joined United's camp Friday night, having been released from the U.S. men's national team camp. Eskandarian and Brandon Prideaux sat out the scrimmage, but will return to work with the Black-and-Red in the afternoon session. Jason Thompson and trialist Hugh Leefah are currently nursing injuries.
Supplemental draft selections Andrew Terris and Matt Nickel will arrive in camp Satrurday night and Monday, respectively, and newly signed Kenny Arena will join United on Thursday. Dema Kovalenko remains in Chicago, the result of a broken foot.
Also in Bradenton, former United great Raul Diaz Arce was announced Saturday as an Assistant Coach with the U.S. U-17 national team. Diaz Arce brings a wealth of experience to the Under-17s. Diaz Arce was D.C. United's No. 1 pick in the inaugural MLS draft in 1996, scored the first ever goal in the club's history and, during his first two years with United, helped collect consecutive MLS Cup championships and one U.S. Open Cup title.
After stints with four other teams, including a return to United, Diaz Arce finished up his five-year MLS career in 2001. With over 12,000 minutes played in 150 games, Arce is third in all-time goals scored in MLS with 82 and seventh all-time in regular season points with 193. During his time with El Salvador's national team, Diaz Arce scored 16 goals in more than 60 appearances.