D.C. United got their 2019 preseason off to a winning start, defeating USL Championship side Bethlehem Steel FC 1-0. United grabbed the game’s only goal early in the second half via 3rd round draft pick Shinya Kadono, who replaced Wayne Rooney in the 18th minute after the England legend picked up a knock that he couldn’t run off.
Ben Olsen’s first lineup of 2019 consisted of Bill Hamid in goal; Leonardo Jara, Frederic Brillant, Steven Birnbaum, and Akeem Ward across the back; a defensive midfield duo of Chris Durkin and Junior Moreno; an attacking trio of Ulises Segura, Lucas Rodriguez, and Zoltan Stieber; and Wayne Rooney up top in a 4231.
Olsen was missing Paul Arriola, Russell Canouse, and Joseph Mora due to national team duty, and also opted to give Luciano Acosta — only just back with the team after nearly moving to Paris Saint-Germain on Thursday — the day off:
Luciano Acosta is on site. He wanted to play, but after not training for a few days and arriving back in Florida from Paris late last night, Olsen will hold him out.— Steven Goff (@SoccerInsider) February 2, 2019
As one would expect, United took charge in the early going, though genuine chances didn’t appear to be too common. The first noteworthy action of the game was bad news, as Rooney went down with some kind of knock:
10 minutes into the match, Rooney down with apparent right ankle/lower leg injury. Requires treatment, walks off slowly. Trying to walk it off on sideline. ....— Steven Goff (@SoccerInsider) February 2, 2019
Rooney returned to the field long enough to have a header blocked in the goalmouth, but soon thereafter was removed from the match due to the injury. 3rd round draft pick Shinya Kadono replaced Rooney up top in the 18th minute. It did not appear that the team was overly worried about Rooney’s knock, as he joined the substitutes on the bench rather than needing serious treatment. Steve Goff of the Washington Post reported that Rooney is “day to day”:
Ward and Stieber appeared to be having success down the left flank, popping up repeatedly in the team’s tweets about the game. Ward, a natural right back, may have an easier path to minutes on the left side given that Mora is the lone left back on the team, and has just begun to break through with Costa Rica’s national team:
25' lovely bout of possession by the Black-and-Red. Jara cuts in from the right and finds @ZoltanStieber who dances past a few defenders before finding @akeemjward who drives a low cross across the goal. Promising signs.#DCU— D.C. United (@dcunited) February 2, 2019
That flank created what appeared to be United’s only true chance of the half, with Ward apparently involved before Kadono ended up with an unfortunate miss:
Ward continues to impress with footwork and crosses. Kadono misses a sitter.— Steven Goff (@SoccerInsider) February 2, 2019
Segura, we’re told, went close near the end of the half, which saw Olsen swap out everyone bar Kadono. There may have been a formation change, but we’ll never know because the game was not streamed. Trialists Colton Storm (formerly with Sporting Kansas City’s affiliate Swope Park Rangers) and Peabo Doue (a product of United’s academy who played for North Carolina FC last year) took up the fullback spots, while two unnamed academy players and a trialist (later revealed to be winger/forward Kyle Murphy, formerly of San Antonio FC) came on as well.
DCU lineup in 2nd half: Edwards; Storm (trialist), Pines, Robinson, Doue (trialist); Shinya (trialist), Bustamante, academy, Alves (trialist); academy guest, unidentified trialist.— Steven Goff (@SoccerInsider) February 2, 2019
It didn’t take long for United’s second group to break through, as one of their trialists struck quickly to hand the Black-and-Red a 1-0 lead:
Since we’re doing this recap on second-hand information due to the lack of stream, it’s worth pointing out that La Barra Brava were able to find out that it was Kadono (who has not yet been offered a contract, and is thus a trialist) scoring the goal:
Heard from a friend at the match it was Shinya that scored.— Barra Brava (@Barra_Brava) February 2, 2019
The teams exchanged chances just after the hour mark, with someone from United forcing Steel goalkeeper Tomas Romero to come up with a save just three minutes before Earl Edwards Jr. had to do the same, apparently coming up with a solid stop after a shot got through some traffic in the D.C. box:
That was apparently it, as no one present at the game made mention of anything else significant. It could well be that more things happened, but without a stream, we just don’t know.
United will be back in action later this week, facing MLS expansion side FC Cincinnati on Thursday, February 7th, in a game that is apparently, mercifully, going to be streamed.
Highlights will be added if they ever become available.