Joseph Ngwenya scored for D.C. United in the Reserve match today, but he wasn't as impressive as some of United's Academy players.
The D.C. United Reserves remained undefeated today with a 2-2 draw against the New England Revolution at the RFK Stadium Auxiliary Field. United used a blend of full-team roster players and D.C. United Academy players, while all of the 11 starters for the Revs were full-team players.
Two of the youngest players on the field for United shined more brightly than some of the veterans. Collin Martin, a sophomore from Bethesda Chevy Chase and leading scorer for United's U-16 Academy team (11 goals in 25 matches), had the single most-impressive play of the day, blasting a shot from the top of the box past the Revolution goalkeeper while well marked. His high school teammate Bradley Vorv played all 90 minutes in central defense, and even appeared to take on the lone center back role in United's 3-5-2 formation for a small period in the second half. He actually looked more competent and composed than Rodrigo Brasesco in my opinion.
Both young players are absolutely good enough to continue playing at the MLS Reserve league level. Beyond that, it may be too soon to tell.
Three more U-18 Academy players also saw time in the match. Midfielders Mikias Eticha, Cody Albrecht, and Tyler Rudy each held their own. Eticha played all 90 minutes on the right wing for United, while Albrecht started in central midfield and moved up top in the second half once his father Dax McCarty entered. Rudy earned the assist on the first United goal, playing Joseph Ngwenya through into space behind the Revolution defense.
I arrived at RFK just before halftime so I'll forgo judgment on Charlie Davies (who left with a slight knock according to Travis Clark of MLSsoccer.com ), Jed Zayner (who could be a candidate to start Saturday according to Sebastian Salazar of CSNwashington.com ), and Steve Cronin. They all departed at the half, but here are some thoughts on the rest of the full-teamers who suited up for United today:
- Ngwenya is who he is. For United's first goal, he got in behind the New England backline on a fast-developing play and slotted the ball easily past the goalkeeper. Given time, he's money. If he's pressured in the least, he's much more likely to either shoot over the bar, or turn around and dribble the other way. He's not quick in his decision-making, and always seems intent to try to maintain possession himself with his back to the goal rather than to look for an open teammate.
- Stephen King and Brandon Barklage both looked to be a step of class above their teammates. King seemed to be playing higher than McCarty, and was instrumental in several scoring opportunities in the second half, including finding Martin for the tying goal. Barklage was active on both ends of the field while lining up as a left back for all 90 minutes.
- McCarty and Brasesco didn't really look like MLS starters, which may have had something to do with the confines. McCarty is still working his way back from a groin injury and might not yet be ready to start on Saturday, while Brasesco looked a step slow for most of the second half after picking up a knock while making a tackle on Revolution forward Alan Koger (hate that guy).
- Junior Carreiro looked a bit tentative, but just being on the field was a great sign for the 19-year old winger who was getting his first real minutes since January.
- Conor Shanosky seemed to me like he'd still fit in better with the Academy kids than with the first team. He had a few turnovers, caused the foul that led to the Revolution's penalty kick goal in the first half, and didn't add much offensively. His positioning was generally fine, but I think he still has a ways to go before he can compete with King, McCarty, Simms, and Fred for time in the D.C. central midfield.
- Joe Willis was in goal for the second half and gave up a free kick score to Kenny Mansally. The Revolution midfielder placed the ball well into the upper left corner of the net, but I thought Willis appeared to be just a hair too slow in starting his jump and may have been able to make the save otherwise (although his vision was probably screened by the wall).