Behind the badge: A win, but work ahead
Jaime Moreno, Freddy Adu and Josh Gros scored goals and D.C. United beat the University of South Florida 3-0 on Saturday in an exhibition match-up at IMG Academies in Bradenton, Fla. With the win, United runs its preseason record to 3-0.
"Today's game was good for us," said United Head Coach Peter Nowak. "We were able to get a group of guys a lot of minutes and we'll be able to do the same for another group tomorrow. We still have a lot of work to do, however."
In control throughout, D.C. United saw a majority of the ball from the opening whistle. An early opportunity for Alecko Eskandarian saw him dribble the keeper and place a shot on goal from a tight angle that was deflected wide. Gros followed with a blistering left footed shot that passed just over the crossbar before a cheeky give-and-go between Moreno and Christian Gomez ended with Moreno hammering a full volley just high. A reflex save on Eskandarian's 20-yard attempt kept the game scoreless through the half hour mark.
United opened the scoring at the 36 minute mark courtesy of Moreno. A low Gomez corner kick found its way through the goal box to the far post where Moreno one-timed a shot into the net. Six minutes later, Mike Petke nearly doubled the lead on another Gomez corner, but his skying header flashed just above target.
The defending MLS Cup Champions extended their lead immediately after the half. Eskandarian found space at the top of the Bulls' penalty area, drawing two defenders before slotting the ball to his right. The pass found Moreno whose shot was knocked down by a sprawling goalkeeper, but Adu was on the doorstep to tuck home the rebound.
Gros finished the scoring by knocking home another rebound after Eliseo Quintanilla had taken Moreno's pass and made several crafty moves freeing himself for a bending left footed shot. Nick Rimando's quality reflex save in the 72nd minute and Bryan Namoff's hustling clearance of a shot before it crossed the goal line kept a clean sheet for United.
Saturday's line-up included: Rimando; Namoff, Mike Petke, David Stokes; Gros, Adu (Tim Lawson 67'), Brian Carroll, Gomez (Eliseo Quintanilla 67'), Brandon Prideaux (Nick Van Sicklen 46'); Moreno and Eskandarian (Zeferino Soares 67'). Several United players sat out today's scrimmage in preparation to play a full 90 minutes tomorrow.
Kenny Arena joined the Black-and-Red at their Bradenton headquarters on Thursday and was joined by new trialists Allen Handy and Bobby Boswell. Following his stint with the U.S. national team, Ben Olsen will join the club later today. Dema Kovalenko remains in Chicago recovering from a broken foot.
D.C. United will be in action again tomorrow when the club participates in the Tom Fitzgerald Memorial Soccer Festival. The day's events, held on the campus of the University of Tampa include a Youth Soccer and Goalkeeper Clinic (11:00 a.m. - 2:00 p.m.), a Coaching Symposium (2:00 - 3:00 p.m.), United's match vs. the U.S. U-17 National Team (4:00 p.m.) and the Columbus Crew vs. Real Salt Lake (6:00 p.m.). The cost of admission for the festival for adults 18 and older is $12, $7 for children 12-17 and $5 for children under 12. Tickets can be purchased by calling 253-6240, ext. 3100. Donations to the Tom Fitzgerald Memorial Scholarship Fund can be mailed to: Tom Fitzgerald Memorial Scholarship Fund, University of Tampa, 401 W. Kennedy Blvd., Box I, Tampa, FL 33606.
An on-line auction will also be a part of fundraising plans for the event. The auction will begin at Noon (ET) on Sunday and will run for five days. The bidding section will be done on eBay. A signed D.C. United preseason jersey is one of the many available items. All proceeds from the festival and auction will help fund the Tom Fitzgerald Memorial Scholarship named after the UT soccer coach and former Crew head coach who died in December from injuries suffered in a motorcycle accident.
A gracious Adu signed autographs and posed for pictures with a girls soccer team training at the facility moments after the teenagers had anxiously approached Nana Kuffour, having mistook him for the 15-year-old midfielder.
Saturday's scrimmage allowed United goalkeeper Troy Perkins the opportunity to catch up with several members of the USF team. Perkins played with the Bulls for three seasons prior to finishing his collegiate eligibility at the University of Evansville.
Among the spectators at the match were Alicia Terry, Kenley Davis and Chico Solares. The three Barra Brava members flew to Florida from the Nation's Capital in order to catch United's two exhibition games this weekend.