D.C. United opened their 2020 preseason with a 3-1 loss to the Montreal Impact this afternoon in a game played at the University of South Florida’s Corbett Stadium. Ballou Tabla had a brace for the Impact, who were making their first preseason appearance under new head coach Thierry Henry, while United got a late goal from draft pick Josh Fawole.
With the teams playing behind closed doors, and with neither side streaming the game, details were sparse. Montreal had what may have been the game’s first chance, as trialist Steevan Saba found right back Clément Bayiha coming forward, but Bayiha’s cross to Maxi Urruti ended with the striker missing the mark:
7' Construction à droite, Saba donne à Bayiha qui bat son défenseur et permet à Urruti de tirer de la gauche, ça rase le poteau.— Impact de Montréal (@impactmontreal) January 28, 2020
Saba sends Bayiha in space and he finds Urruti, his left-footed shot is just wide.#IMFC
Per B&RU’s own Ryan Keefer, Saba — a Haitian national team midfielder — was once a player of at least some interest for United:
Understand that DC kicked the tires on Saba at some point, should be exciting!— Ryan Keefer (@reefa_k) January 28, 2020
With Montreal doing virtually all of the commentary on the game, it’s hard to say what United did going forward. However, we can note that Earl Edwards Jr. — per Steve Goff, United’s expected starting goalkeeper for the day with Bill Hamid away on USMNT duty, a report he reiterated during the match — made his first save in the 27th minute:
27' Bojan et Urruti jouent dans la boite adverse, ce dernier tire, c'est cadré mais arrêté par le gardien.— Impact de Montréal (@impactmontreal) January 28, 2020
Chance for Urruti who's fed by Bojan, his shot is on target but saved.#IMFC
The Impact were creating more chances as the half wore on, with Saba hitting the woodwork soon after Urruti’s shot was stopped:
33' Saba sur le contre touche le poteau puis Piatti n'est pas capable de marquer sur le retour.— Impact de Montréal (@impactmontreal) January 28, 2020
Saba hits the post, Nacho can't score on the follow-up.#IMFC
After making an early substitution, Montreal continued to create opportunities, with Urruti having a shot blocked by someone for United, and Ignacio Piatti firing wide from distance. However, just before halftime, United carved out a major chance, only for goalkeeper Clément Diop to make the stop:
45' Diop s'illustre sur un 1v1.— Impact de Montréal (@impactmontreal) January 28, 2020
Diop with a good save on a 1v1.#IMFC
Apparently that wasn’t United’s lone look, as they reportedly had some other chances inside the box that went awry:
Well-informed sources say DCU and Montreal are scoreless after 45 minutes: quality chances on both sides as Impact hit the woodwork and DCU had 3 good bids inside the 18. No other info. Sorry.— Steven Goff (@SoccerInsider) January 28, 2020
Unsurprisingly, Thierry Henry swapped out most of his starters at the break, with only Amar Sejdic (the aforementioned first half sub) staying on after the break. In came a mix of second-choice options, one academy player, and former Houston Dynamo attacker Romell Quioto, who moved to Montreal during the offseason in a trade:
Le XI pour commencer la 2e mi-temps— Impact de Montréal (@impactmontreal) January 28, 2020
Our XI to start the 2nd half
Bush; Corrales, Waterman, Camacho, Brault-Guillard; Shome, Giraldo (Académie), Sejdic; Quioto, Jackson, Ballou.#IMFC
For their part, United left Edwards in goal, but made a series of subs of their own. This is the only indication we have that the starters were more likely than not the guys most observers expect to play a major part this season:
Several trialists and academy players enter at start of second half. Only Earl Edwards will play 90. (Chris Seitz starts in net Saturday.)— Steven Goff (@SoccerInsider) January 28, 2020
Even here, we’re having to do some work: if trialists and academy call-ups subbed in, then it’s logical to assume projected starters were among the starting lineups. But, still, an assumption nonetheless.
Montreal’s subs conjured up a chance in short order, with Anthony Jackson-Hamel and Ballou Tabla combining, only for (reportedly) Edwards of some kind to produce another save:
47' Tir de Ballou à la suite d'une course en profondeur de Jackson, c'est arrêté.— Impact de Montréal (@impactmontreal) January 28, 2020
Ballou shoots following a run in behind by Jackson, it's saved.#IMFC
Just past the hour mark, the Impact broke the scoreless deadlock. Tabla provided the finish after being set up by Quioto, who played his fellow wide man in behind D.C.’s defense:
63' Corrales à Quioto qui lance Ballou dans le dos de la défense. Ballou marque!— Impact de Montréal (@impactmontreal) January 28, 2020
Corrales to Quioto and he finds Ballou in behind. Goal!#IMFC
Fullback play continued to be a factor for Montreal, who got Zachary Brault-Guillard forward to create what was likely the game’s next chance:
65' Brault-Guillard sur le contre centre dangereusement, Quioto est au bout et tire, c'est dévié en corner.— Impact de Montréal (@impactmontreal) January 28, 2020
Brault-Guillard crosses on the counter, Quioto is there and shoots, it's blocked for a corner.#IMFC
United then fell behind 2-0 after falling victim to some high pressure from Montreal. This time, Tabla created the opportunity, with Quioto eventually finding the back of the net:
78' Pression de Ballou et sur le contre, Shome trouve Quioto dans la surface. But!— Impact de Montréal (@impactmontreal) January 28, 2020
Ballou presses and wins the ball, then Shome finds Quioto in the box. Goal!#IMFC
Things went from bad to worse from there for United, who coughed up a third goal in the 84th minute. Tabla made it a brace, firing home after a cross from Jorge Corrales:
84' Sejdic lance Corrales à gauche, bon centre pour Ballou qui tire à la volée. But!— Impact de Montréal (@impactmontreal) January 28, 2020
Sejdic turns in front of the box and sends Corrales down the left channel. He crosses for Ballou who volleys it. Goal!#IMFC
The final stages weren’t all bad for the Black-and-Red, who scored some kind of goal in the 86th minute. One can only speculate on how it came about, but apparently it did happen!
Apparently the goal was scored by United’s 2nd round draft pick, striker Josh Fawole:
3-1. Goal by Josh Fawole, 2nd-round pick from Loyola (Baltimore)— Steven Goff (@SoccerInsider) January 28, 2020
That was the last reported action of the game, though, with a red-clad United unable to produce any more goals. They’ll be back in action this Saturday, as they take on the New York Red Bulls in another closed-door game that will probably be very difficult for us to have anything meaningful to say.
Corbett Stadium (Tampa, FL)
D.C. United 1 (Fawole 86)
Montreal Impact 3 (Tabla 63, 84; Quioto 78)
DCU (???): Earl Edwards Jr.; ten other guys (different guys, including Josh Fawole*, 46, and probably other times)
Impact (433): Clément Diop (Evan Bush 46); Clément Bayiha (Zachary Brault-Guillard 46), Rod Fanni (Rudy Camacho 46), Karifa Yao (Joel Waterman 46), Keesean Ferdinand (Jorge Corrales 46); Mathieu Choinière (Tomas Giraldo 46), Samuel Piette (Shamit Shome 46), Steevan Saba (Ballou Tabla 46); Bojan Krkić (Amar Sejdic 34), Maximiliano Urruti (Anthony Jackson-Hamel 46), Ignacio Piatti (Romell Quioto 46)
DCU - None reported, but who can be sure?
Impact - None reported, but who can be sure?
All players marked with an * are players who are not under contract with United.