WASHINGTON — Vurnon Anita’s 87th-minute goal earned Dutch champions Ajax a late 2-1 win over D.C. United in a friendly match at RFK Stadium on Sunday evening.
Anita’s goal broke a 1-1 tie after Miralem Sulejmani and DC forward Blake Brettschneider traded goals in the first friendly pitting an MLS club against an overseas squad in 2011.
Ajax dominated the opening 10 minutes, spraying the ball over the field and maintaining a stranglehold on possession. The start was rewarded with a goal in the 10th minute, when Nicolás Lodeiro fed forward Miralem Sulejmani in space, and he slotted a shot past DC goalkeeper Bill Hamid.
United responded almost immediately, getting forward and looking much more dangerous. Right back Brandon Barklage tested Ajax 'keeper Kenneth Vermeer with a tremendous 40-yard drive that was turned away for a corner.
With the lead, Ajax sat back, and DC bossed the game as the Dutch side looked to pounce on the counter. Hamid had to be alert on a couple of occasions, including a one-on-one with Darío Cvitanich that the ‘keeper snatched off his foot.
At the start of the second half, D.C. United coach Ben Olsen made five changes, shaking things up for the home side. Fred then had a glorious chance to equalize in the 52nd minute, played in on goal by Chris Pontius, but the Brazilian sprayed his shot wide of the frame.
The chances kept coming for DC. In the 55th minute, Barklage came up from his right back position, his cross finding substitute Brettschneider, but Vermeer was equal to the effort.
Persistence finally paid off for Brettschneider and United in the 58th minute. Joseph Ngwenya stripped midfielder Eyong Enoh close to the Ajax box, and crossed to the rookie who finished strong to level the score.
In the 76th minute, Ajax almost took the lead again. Lorenzo Ebecilio played a one-two with Cvitanich to get behind DC’s back line, but substitute 'keeper Steve Cronin stood tall to keep the game tied.
The Dutch side found the winner in the 87th minute, as Anita stripped Fred in midfield, dribbled into DC’s penalty area and fired in a now shot that beat Cronin at the far post.
Brettschneider had a chance on a set piece a minute later, but volleyed high of the goal, and Ajax held on for the win.
AJX -- Miralem Sulejmani (Nicolas Lodeiro) 10
DC -- Blake Brettschneider (Joseph Ngwenya) 58
AJX -- Vurnon Anita (unassisted) 87
AJX -- Lorenzo Ebecilio (caution; Reckless Foul) 69
AFC Ajax -- Kenneth Vermeer, Vurnon Anita, Daley Blind, Andre Ooijer (Toby Alderweireld 60), Olegar (Jan Vertonghen 60), Demy De Zeeuw (Siem De Jong 46), Eyong Enoh, Nicolas Lodeiro, Miralem Sulejmani, Dario Cvitanich (Gregory van der Wiel 76), Aras Ozbiliz (Lorenzo Ebecilio 46).
Substitutes Not Used: Jeroen Verhoeven.
D.C. United -- Bill Hamid (Steve Cronin 46), Brandon Barklage, Ethan White, Dejan Jakovic (Chris Korb 46), Daniel Woolard, Andy Najar (Rodrigo Brasesco 71), Perry Kitchen (Conor Shanosky 76), Dax McCarty (Fred 46), Chris Pontius (Stephen King 59), Joseph Ngwenya, Santino Quaranta (Blake Brettschneider 46).
Substitutes Not Used: Clyde Simms, Joe Willis.
Referee: Mark Geiger
Referee's Assistants: Sean Hurd; Kermit Quisenberry
4th Official: John McCloskey
Time of Game: 1:49
Weather: Cloudy and 76 degrees