D.C. United picked up their second straight preseason win, defeating Orlando City 1-0 today at Corbett Soccer Stadium in Tampa. Just like their previous match against Louisville City, United relied on a late goal from Loudoun United call-up Michael Gamble after apparently having the bulk of the chances.
However, the bigger news is a potential injury to USMNT attacker Paul Arriola, who was forced off early with what the Washington Post’s Steve Goff has reported is a knee injury.
Ben Olsen selected what would appear to be his strongest available side. Edison Flores, Yamil Asad, and Donovan Pines were all unavailable, as Olsen told reporters at United’s last practice before heading back to Florida, but otherwise, the lineup on the day was stocked with projected starters:
United also took the field in their new jerseys for the first time, and added the red shorts that fans have been calling for since their existence was first reported by The Athletic’s Pablo Maurer:
After fending off a pair of early set pieces, United began to push into the Orlando half on what appears to be a more regular basis. First, Julian Gressel had a cross blocked, which was followed quickly by Ola Kamara drawing a free kick that United couldn’t turn into a genuine chance.
Notably, United created an early opportunity by forcing a turnover and bursting forward, with Arriola leading the charge.
14' Arriola's work rate pays dividends when he steals the ball in midfield and starts a counter attack for the Black-and-Red. After working the ball around, United win a corner. Brillant is then fouled just outside of the box Free kick for the Black-and-Red.— D.C. United Matchday (@DCUmatchday) February 15, 2020
Perhaps unsurprisingly, two teams that have had their share of physical battles produced a game that was low on real news beyond fouls and set pieces. An unknown Orlando player was booked after fouling Junior Moreno in the 18th minute, while Moreno conceded a free kick a few minutes later.
A giveaway from United apparently caused trouble in the 27th minute, but between Frederic Brillant and Steven Birnbaum, the Black-and-Red dealt with the danger without conceding a shot on goal. At the other end, United had a claim for a penalty kick turned down after Arriola and Kamara combined in the 30th minute:
Seconds later, Olsen made a pair of substitutions, bringing Erik Sorga (still technically under contract with Loudoun United) and Emmanuel Boateng in for Kamara and Arriola. While the change up front was probably a planned substitution, Arriola’s exit is one that will trouble United fans:
The moves most likely resulted in a shuffle of the attacking midfield trio, with Gressel moving inside, Ulises Segura switching to the right, and Boateng playing on his customary left flank.
Olsen made just one substitution at halftime, replacing Moreno (who has been coming back from an offseason hernia procedure) with homegrown midfielder Moses Nyeman. Whether United carried on in the apparent 4231 they were listed in at the start, or if they shifted into a 433 or 4141, is unclear, but all three are possibilities:
Segura had the second half’s first look of note, and he came extremely close to opening the scoring, hitting the crossbar. Within a minute, United had another look, with Gressel finding Birnbaum on a set piece, but the game remained scoreless:
United had a similar chance after Boateng won a free kick, but after D.C. couldn’t convert the set piece, a counter ended up forcing Hamid into action:
55' Boateng gets the ball in the corner and is fouled. Resulting free kick is whipped into the box by Gressel but doesn't find a player in black. Orlando counter and Hamid collects a cross safely to end the danger. 0-0#DCU | #DCvORL— D.C. United Matchday (@DCUmatchday) February 15, 2020
The Lions went very close to opening the scoring in the 75th minute, just seconds before United opted to substitute out nine of the eleven players they had in the game. The group included trialist Carter Manley and the rest of United’s homegrown contingent:
75' Another wave of subs to end the game. New lineup: Edwards Jr., Academy player, Weidt, Dengler (Loudoun), Odoi-Atsem, Manley, Nyeman, Yow, Boateng, Paredes, Gamble (Loudoun)— D.C. United Matchday (@DCUmatchday) February 15, 2020
Normally in preseason games, mass subs lead to the game slowing down, but in this case, United quickly nabbed the game’s first goal. As was the case in their last preseason game, it was Gamble, the versatile Loudoun midfielder/forward, doing the honors:
Orlando replied quickly, only to be denied by Earl Edwards Jr., who denied his former club an immediate equalizer. From there, United apparently relied on their customary grit to keep the Lions at bay, notching their second straight 1-0 victory.
Now with two wins and two losses in preseason, United will have just three days of training before they face MLS expansion club Nashville SC for the first time ever. That game is scheduled for 6:00pm at the Joe DiMaggio Sports Complex in Clearwater, FL.
Watch the build up and the goal from the young guys to deliver the win. pic.twitter.com/f1yNVDh3bL— D.C. United (@dcunited) February 16, 2020
Corbett Soccer Stadium (Tampa, FL)
Orlando City 0
D.C. United 1 (Gamble 77)
Orlando (): No players listed, though Orlando’s game photos indicate that Ruan, Junior Urso, and Mauricio Pereyra played in the first half.
DCU (4231): Bill Hamid (Earl Edwards Jr. 75); Russell Canouse (Chris Odoi-Atsem 75), Frederic Brillant (Jake Dengler* 75), Steven Birnbaum (Shane Wiedt 75), Joseph Mora (academy player 75); Felipe, Junior Moreno (Moses Nyeman 46); Julian Gressel (Kevin Paredes 75), Paul Arriola (Emmanuel Boateng 30), Ulises Segura (Griffin Yow 75); Ola Kamara (Erik Sorga* 30, Michael Gamble 75*)
Note: Players marked with an asterisk are under contract with Loudoun United. Players in italics are trialists/academy players who are not under contract.
Orlando - ??? 18
DCU - Felipe 63