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Darren Mattocks scores as D.C. United fall 2-1 to Malmö FF in preseason opener

Thursday’s preseason game was the first chance to get a look at United’s new signings

D.C. United, Jason Roberts/Envision Sports

After several weeks of preseason training, D.C. United finally got their first friendly game under their belts, as they lost 2-1 to Swedish side Malmö FF. Darren Mattocks, one of several new signings this offseason, scored in the 56th minute to give the Black-and-Red the lead, before two late goals from Carlos Strandberg gave the 2017 Allsvenskan champions the win.

Head coach Ben Olsen gave starts to four newcomers, while United dealt with several injuries. According to the Washington Post’s Steve Goff, Russell Canouse, David Ousted, Steve Birnbaum, and Luciano Acosta were all held out due to injury, while Taylor Kemp was withheld as he continues his recovery from surgery. That allowed Mattocks to start, with Ulises Segura, Junior Moreno, and Frederic Brillant also making their first appearances in a United shirt. John Requejo Jr., a trialist, got the start at left back. Olsen reverted to a 4-1-4-1 formation, with the first half lineup looking as such:

The first half was rough at times for United, none too surprising against a team that is closing up their preseason rather than just getting started. However, Segura almost opened the scoring in the 11th minute, as his header from a Zoltan Stieber corner bounced off of the far post. Steve Clark was called into action five minutes later, getting down to palm a shot that was destined for the far corner away from danger.

Malmö had the better of the chances for most of the half, but Mattocks was aggrieved to have not won a penalty in the 33rd minute. A pass from Segura wrong-footed a defender, as Mattocks raced onto the ball in the box. The same defender was able to catch up to Mattocks, and appeared to knock over the Jamaican striker before a shot was taken, but there was no call from the referee.

At halftime, Olsen brought on Bruno Miranda for Paul Arriola, and Chris Odoi-Atsem for Nick DeLeon. Miranda immediately gave the Malmö defenders fits with his speed, as he took advantage down the left hand flank twice. The first time, in the 51st minute, a low cross for a wide open Mattocks was just behind the striker, though there was a defender between the two of them to make the pass difficult. Then, in the 55th minute, Miranda just kept the ball in play in the box, and cut a pass back to Mattocks, but his promising shot was blocked before reaching goal.

A minute later though, and Mattocks had his goal. An interception from Ian Harkes in his own half eventually led to a deflected pass from Stieber looping over the Malmö defense. Mattocks was able to take advantage with his speed, and smartly applied the finish to give the Black-and-Red the advantage.

That goal was followed by a line change for United, with eight new players coming in. New signing Oniel Fisher was brought in to play as a midfielder, while trialist Sheanon Williams appeared as a left back. Draft pick Rafael Andrade Santos got time in the second half, replacing Harkes in the lineup. In the same formation, this was the lineup:

Mullins had two attempts in the half to try to extend United’s lead, but twice fired directly at the goalkeeper. And United seemed on course to win the game, before Strandberg’s double late on. On the first goal, a pass into the box for Strandberg split Robinson and the Academy player, and Strandberg slipped a shot underneath Clark. Moments later, a scramble in the box wasn’t dealt with properly by the Black-and-Red, and Strandberg acrobatically smashed a shot past Clark from 10 yards out to win the the game.

United are set to return to Washington, D.C. tomorrow, before heading back down to Florida next week, where they will take on the Philadelphia Union and the Jacksonville Armada, before heading out west to take on Las Vegas Lights FC.