An Eliseo Quintanilla brace and goals by Jaime Moreno, Nick Van Sicklen and Matt Nickell propelled D.C. United to a 5-1 exhibition victory over Real Salt Lake in the expansion club's MLS preseason debut. The Black-and-Red (2-0) led 1-0 at the half before pulling away from RSL with a four-goal second stanza at IMG Academies in Bradenton, Fla.
"Our soccer still needs to improve, but our starting points were better today," said United assistant coach Tom Soehn. "This was a great chance for our young guys to get their feet wet."
Nick Rimando; Bryan Namoff, Mike Petke, David Stokes; Santino Quaranta, Tim Lawson, Brian Carroll, Christian Gomez, Josh Gros; Moreno and Alecko Eskandarian opened the game for United. The group quickly grabbed control of the game. Gros, Quaranta and Moreno all had quality early chances denied by sheer hustle from the RSL back line.
Twenty minutes in, however, Moreno broke the seal. Gomez received the ball at midfield before turning into space. The Argentine midfielder ran with the ball at the defense, drew the center back to him before calmly laying the ball off to his left for Moreno, who snuck the ball into the far side netting.
The RSL goalkeeper kept the margin at one with a reaction save on a Gomez diving header in the 24th minute. Gomez later nearly allowed United to double its lead twice before the break from set pieces. After Eskandarian was dragged down from behind 30-yards from goal, he swung a dangerous ball to the far post just beyond an on-rushing Stokes. Minutes later, Gomez drew a foul in nearly the same position and served another beautiful cross that went unfulfilled.
United's depth was on full display in the second half. With Troy Perkins; Tim Merritt, Brandon Prideaux, Stephen Deroux; Nana Kuffour, Shawn Kuykendall, Eliseo Quintanilla, Freddy Adu, Nick Van Sicklen; Matt Nickell and Zeferino Soares on the field, the MLS Cup Champions immediately pulled away.
Quintanilla, Van Sicklen and Nickell found quick chemistry and gave the RSL defense fits the entire second stanza. In the 50th minute, Quintanilla found Nickell behind the expansion club's back line. Drawing the goalkeeper off of his line, the Drake University product slid a pass across the goal mouth for Van Sicklen to finish into the open net. Shortly thereafter, Van Sicklen rewarded Quintanilla's forward run with a pass freeing his left foot for a clinical finish.
United pushed the lead to four when Deroux left his left back position and ran through the RSL midfield. He sent Van Sicklen clear to the end line, where United's fourth-round selection in last month's SuperDraft spotted Nickell's near post run. Though he only arrived in camp Monday night, Nickell was quick to put away the low cross in the 79th minute. Two minutes later, he checked backed to the ball 25-yards from goal and left the ball to Quintanilla's deadly left foot with a clever outside of the foot move. The Salvadoran midfielder closed United's scoring with a laser to the upper portion of the goal.
A late goal by Luke Kreamalmeyer allowed the 5-1 final score.
United returns to action Saturday morning against the University of South Florida. Kickoff is set for 10 a.m. ET at the IMG Academies.
All procedes from the event will fund the Tom Fitzgerald Memorial Scholarship at the University of Tampa. Donations can also be mailed to: Tom Fitzgerald Memorial Scholarship Fund; University of Tampa; 401 W. Kennedy Blvd., Box I; Tampa, FL 33606. For further information, please contact Adrian Bush at (813) 253-6240 ext. 3407 or 3184 or email@example.com.