Despite a goal and some impressive moments from youngster Griffin Yow, a reserve-laden D.C. United fell 5-2 in a friendly tonight against Real Betis before 11,201 at Audi Field tonight. The Spanish side were up 2-0 at halftime, but a fightback from United — involving goals from Yow and Quincy Amarikwa — made things interesting before a pair of late goals put the game to bed for los Verdiblancos.
Ben Olsen fielded a side mostly made up of his frequent substitutes, with only Paul Arriola (suspended on the weekend) and Junior Moreno (back after missing two games following the passing of his father) getting starts among United’s top side. Wayne Rooney, Luciano Acosta, Lucas Rodriguez, Bill Hamid, and United’s entire first-choice back four were not in uniform.
After both teams exchanged spells of possession, Betis had the opening look. A ball from Andres Guardado found a seam between Jalen Robinson and Akeem Ward, letting Loren Morón race in alone on Chris Seitz. Making his first appearance in United colors since before the season began, Seitz was up to the challenge, stopping both Loren’s initial low bid and then smothering a follow-up.
The Spanish side, playing a strong lineup, looked the sharper side, and Morón wouldn’t be denied in the 16th minute. A lightning-quick passing sequence involving Guardado and Sergio Leon pulled the Black-and-Red’s defense apart, and once Chris McCann’s desperate tackle attempt didn’t break the play up, United’s fate was sealed. Sergio Leon drew Seitz to his left before rolling a pass across to Morón, who had the simplest of tap-ins.
An enterprising 28th minute run from Chris Odoi-Atsem saw the defender, making his first appearance in a United shirt since March 24, 2018, pick out Arriola with a cross. Arriola twisted and turned before finding Quincy Amarikwa, whose acrobatic shot took a fortunate deflection for Betis goalkeeper Pau Lopez.
United were showing increased comfort, and after bringing homegrown winger Griffin Yow on in a planned substitution in the 32nd minute, they started to create more chances. Yow won a corner with his first involvement, and Robinson headed just wide after Stieber picked him out at the back post.
Unfortunately for the home side, the next Verdiblancos attack ended in a goal. Ward had to concede a corner in the 38th minute, and the outswinger found Marc Bartra at the top of the box. Bartra had shed his markers, and cushioned a header to Sergio Leon, who blistered a low shot through traffic and past Seitz, giving the visitors a 2-0 lead.
Just seconds into the second half, Yow pulled one back for United., A poor pass from substitute goalkeeper Joel Robles, under pressure from Arriola, went right to Chris McCann. McCann fed Yow, whose shot ramped up off of Zouhair Feddal, looping over Robles and into the back of the net in the 47th minute.
Yow had another shot, picking up a loose ball at the top of the box in the 58th minute, only for Robles to make the save. Shortly thereafter, the teams had a sliding doors moment that ended with Betis up 3-1. At one end, Odoi-Atsem’s bullet of a cross from the right found substitute Connor Presley knifing in unmarked, but the 20-year-old Loudoun winger got under the ball, sending his point-blank header straight up into the air.
Right up to the other end, Betis scored, with veteran midfielder Joaquin delivering a vicious, knuckling shot from the top of the box in the 64th minute that left Chris Seitz helpless.
Odoi-Atsem was replaced with Loudoun fullback Allexon Saravia, and within five minutes there were goals at either end. First, a United corner found halftime substitute Orlando Sinclair, another Loudoun call-up, unmarked and on the run. Sinclair nodded the ball off the crossbar, but with Robles still down, the rebound went right to Amarikwa, who calmly headed United back within one in the 69th minute.
Betis restored their two-goal lead within three minutes. Referee Guido Gonzalez Jr. called Akeem Ward for handling inside the box, and defender Marc Bartra stepped up to take the penalty. After an exaggerated series of stutter steps, Bartra powered his shot past Seitz in the 72nd minute.
The game was stretched out, and Betis made it 5-2 in the 76th minute. This time, substitute Roberto Gonzalez used a feint to freeze United’s defense inside the area, before rolling the ball across the frame of goal, just out of Seitz’s reach.
That goal ended a wild patch of the game, with Betis settling into confident possession play whenever possible. United kept pressing, though, with Robles absolutely robbing Loudoun’s Shinya Kadono in stoppage time. Kadono was picked out well by Amarikwa from the endline, but Robles managed to paw his volley away at full stretch.
United will return to MLS regular season action this weekend, as they travel north to take on the New England Revolution Saturday night at 7:30pm.
D.C. United 2 (Yow 47, Amarikwa 69)
Real Betis 5 (Morón 16, Sergio Leon 37, Joaquin 64, Bartra 72pen, Gonzalez 76)
DCU (4231): Chris Seitz; Chris Odoi-Atsem (Allexon Saravia 65), Collin Verfurth, Jalen Robinson (Shinya Kadono 62), Akeem Ward; Junior Moreno (C) (Orlando Sinclair 46), Chris McCann; Ulises Segura (Griffin Yow 32), Paul Arriola (Omar Campos 91+), Zoltan Stieber (Connor Presley 62); Quincy Amarikwa
Betis (352): Pau Lopez (Joel Robles 46); Marc Bartra, Zouhair Feddal, Sidnei (Roberto Gonzalez 68); Emerson, Andres Guardado (Wilfrid Kaptoum 59), Javi Garcia (Roberto Rodriguez 79), Joaquin (C) (Jose Manuel Calderon 62), Cristian Tello (Rodrigo Sanchez 79); Loren Morón (Jese Rodriguez 46), Sergio Leon (Raul Garcia 46)
DCU - Sinclair 54
Betis - Robles 52