WASHINGTON – A chance to stretch their legs against a world-class side, their first result in more than a month and a compliment from Carlo Ancelotti.
All in all, not a bad day’s work for D.C. United, which played free-spending Ligue 1 side Paris Saint-Germain to a 1-1 draw Saturday evening in an Herbalife World Football Challenege match at RFK Stadium.
“D.C. United played a tough game,” said PSG manager Ancelotti from a crowded media room underneath RFK. “They were very dynamic, they showed good footwork. It was a good game for us and our preparation.”
Reigning MLS MVP Dwayne De Rosario played the hero for United on a night when PSG’s newest acquisition, Zlatan Ibrahimovic, did the same for the French side.
De Rosario converted a penalty kick in the 33rd minute, scoring D.C.’s first goal since June 30 and helping his club earn the tie in a game that was delayed 45 minutes for a passing thunderstorm.
“I think by the way we played, it boosts confidence that we can play with any team,” said De Rosario, who played a half following his appearance against Chelsea in Wednesday’s All-Star Game. “We just have to show up every game and play with that same confidence.”
Ibrahimovic generated plenty of media buzz before the match and quickly delivered a show-stopping moment when he scored in the third minute. The Swedish striker logged 39 minutes and attempted three shots while creating plenty of trouble for D.C.’s defenders. Perhaps an ideal test for a unit that will play six matches in August.
“It was demanding,” said United goalkeeper Bill Hamid about matching up against Ibrahimovic. “I was definitely trying to make sure guys knew where to be when he was around. He was trying to frisk off the defenders once the defenders turned their heads to look at the ball. I let them know to keep their eyes on him and it worked out well.”
United also weren’t shy about pressuring the Parisian powerhouse as a ninth-minute free kick by Branko Boskovic – who played for PSG from 2003-05 – appeared to ignite the offense. In the resulting stretch before the storm hit in the 23rd minute, D.C. generated three quality chances, including a near goal by Chris Pontius that banged off the crossbar. PSG goalkeeper Nicolas Douchez was also called into action on two attempts on goal in the second half.
“It’s a great experience for all of us. We were definitely very excited to get out there coming off two losses in the league,” said midfielder Perry Kitchen. “We were trying to come out and get a win. I think we played well.”