The Akron Zips won the NCAA National Championship in 2010 with a 22-1-2 record, and had five players selected in the first round of MLS Draft 2011 earlier this month. It was their best season ever. D.C. United finished in last place in MLS in 2010 with a 6-20-4 record and are now in the process of rebuilding. It was their worst season ever.
The natural question then is this: Which team would win in a real match, the 2010 Akron Zips or the 2010 D.C. United?
The answer could depend somewhat on the rules, since professional soccer is different from college soccer. For example, in college soccer the clock counts down, teams are allowed unlimited substitutions, and whoever is closest to the ball when it goes out of bounds earns the throw-in.
Assuming we are playing under standard FIFA rules as used in MLS, I’ve got a hunch that D.C. United would win. Mainly because these are grown ass men playing against younger, smaller, and less experienced kids. While the Zips might have an edge in natural ability, possessing at least five of the most talented college soccer players in the country, and quite possibly the best and most promising American coach at any level, United should still have an advantage. Plus, since this match would technically be considered a friendly, United should prevail, because they always win friendlies. Especially if they're on Wednesdays.
You don’t believe me? Ok. Don’t just take my word for it then. Read on and you’ll see how I think this match would really turn out.
0’: The players are announced and take to the field. Confused, the referee tries to send Anthony Ampaipitakwong back to the sideline, thinking he was one of the youths escorting the players onto the field.
1’: United kicks off and goes to work on maintaining possession. Branko Boskovic manages to beat Perry Kitchen and put Danny Allsopp through on goal, but the forward shoots straight at the goalkeeper, wasting the opportunity.
18’: Andy Najar uses his speed to beat Michael Nanchoff and earn a foul just outside the box. Santino Quaranta steps up to deliver the free kick and sends the ball clear over the crossbar, wasting the opportunity.
37’: United continues to shut down the Zips on the defensive end. Troy Perkins looks shaky handling a few errant crosses, but Dejan Jakovic and Julius James do well at using their superior size to overpower Akron’s attackers, while Clyde Simms provides help in limiting Kofi Sarkodie whenever the quick fullback tries to enter the attack.
44’: In the dying moments of the first half, thanks to some quick passing between Najar and Boskovic, Pablo Hernandez finds himself alone in the box with no one to beat but the goalkeeper. Hernandez gets nervous and starts looking around for someone to pass to. Eventually, Chris Korb catches Hernandez from behind and dispossesses the forward, wasting the opportunity.
45’ The referee blows the whistle to close out the scoreless first half. The shot total is United 5, Akron 0.
Halftime: In the locker room at the half, the president of the University of Akron extends Caleb Porter’s contract another five years, to the year 2068.
47’ Shortly after the start of the second half, Akron scores on their first legitimate opportunity of the match. Sarkodie sends a long ball in to Darlington Nagbe, who has no trouble beating Jordan Graye, and kicks a low shot inside Perkins’ near post as the goalkeeper is frozen in place. Jakovic was caught out of position up field.
71’: Kevin Payne comes down from the box to join his team on the sidelines. He’d like a word with Porter after the match. Porter, who turned Payne down for the United coaching job prior to Curt Onalfo’s hiring, sees Payne and gives him a wink. Ben Olsen chuckles and goes over to give Porter a friendly pat on the back. Olsen is ejected.
72’: Chad Ashton assumes the reigns as head coach and immediately inserts Jaime Moreno, who had been attempting to get Porter to notice his son’s juggling abilities.
74’: The Godfather of Goals makes an immediate impact. Moreno collects the ball just outside Akron's box on the left wing. He guards the ball, makes a few turns, does a few card tricks, lulls his opponents into a trance, and then kicks the ball right into the arm of Zarek Valentin. As expected, Moreno converts the penalty kick with ease to tie the game at one goal apiece.
86’: Quaranta picks out Najar from the other side of the field and sends an excellent cross to play the young winger through into space. Najar doesn’t waste the opportunity. He takes on four defenders, jumping over a slide tackle from the first, cutting the ball back to beat the second, knocking the ball to his left and running around the third, and then shooting the ball through the legs of the fourth and into the net. RFK Stadium erupts. Beer is spilled. Chest Rockwell runs down the aisle in celebration. Several minutes later, he realizes that he kept running and is now lost on the streets of D.C. He wound up having to take the Metro home from Fort Totten that night.
93': The whistle blow. The game ends. United has won! They've defeated a college team!