If today's preseason match was a preview of the first regular season match of the year, then we shouldn't exactly be looking forward to First Kick on Mar. 10. Sporting Kansas City defeated D.C. United 2-1 in Arizona today. The two teams will meet again in less than one month.
The Sporks were the top team in the MLS Eastern Conference last season, and for good reason. Their high pressure, high scoring attack is one of the fastest in recent league history, and they took advantage of that speed today, keeping United under fire for much of the game. Both teams used most of their starters for 60 minutes, with only Bill Hamid coming out in favor of Joe Willis at halftime.
The score was 1-0 Kansas City when the starters came out, which means that United's top squad (including Hamid) is now -2 for the preseason.
Fortunately, the Sporks had far more of its best 11 in the match than United did. Dwayne De Rosario, Brandon McDonald, Branko Boskovic, Chris Pontius, Ethan White, and Josh Wolff all sat out for D.C. Far as we can tell, all are on track to be ready for minutes by Mar. 10.Best as we can tell, United's starting 11 for the third preseason match for 2012 was:
Judging from the tweets from @SKCgameday and @DCUmatchday, Kansas City had far more chances in the first half with both sets of starters on the field. The positives from United were a few crosses from Robbie Russell, a run from Andy Najar, and a narrow miss from Maicon Santos.
The lone first half goal was scored on a free kick by Graham Zusi after an extended bit of pressure from the Sporks. United gave up chance after chance to the best team in the East, and they ultimately paid for it.
Both teams made wholesale changes at the 60 minute mark, with United bringing on the following lineup:
Sporting Kansas City added its second goal immediately following the substitutions, with Soony Saad and Jacob Peterson combining for the score. D.C. guest player and former Kansas City great Jose Burciaga Jr. scored the only goal for United, connecting on a half volley with his left foot late in the match. No word yet on who created the chance for United.
Brazilian trialist Alfredo Francisco Martins got his first run in a United uniform and received some nice reviews for his ball work on the left flank. Perhaps the most interesting development though was seeing trialist and second round Supplemental pick Lance Rozeboom playing in central defense. Rozeboom had been used primarily as a more attack-minded midfielder or withdrawn forward in previous scrimmages from what we were able to discern. Rozeboom appearing in the back line gives him another positive point for versatility, and probably gives us another hint that he'll be earning a contract.
In addition to Burciago, D.C. used two other guest players to fill out the roster. The Armstrong listed is most likely Matt Armstrong, a midfielder from Notre Dame who grew up in Phoenix, AZ. Today's roster for United also included a dude named Garre, who I'm speculating is Phillippe Garre, a forward who graduated from Gonzaga a year ago and played high school soccer in Scottsdale, AZ.
Of course we shouldn't read too much into a 2-1 preseason loss with a guest player scoring the only goal. Hamid emphasized that point with a tweet following the match: "Our best performance yet.. Team is really confident and the score did not reflect the game."
United will get a chance to right the ship on Tuesday with another preseason match in Arizona against Real Salt Lake. We all know what happened the last time these two teams met...